Skip Navigation

2002 - Vol. 23, Number 3, Summer

Intertheoretic Identification and Mind-Brain Reductionism

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 193–222, ISSN 0271–0137

A recurrent candidate for exemplification of intertheoretic reduction, put forward over past decades within philosophy of science, is the proposition “pitch is identical with sound-frequency.” Paul Churchland revives this nominal ontological reduction, placing it beside others as “lightning is an electrical discharge,” and “heat is high kinetic energy.” Yet no matter whether frequency is considered physically or merely semantically, there is no conceivable format in which such an identity is viable. An analysis of objective qualia said to represent the ground of such equations indicates their fictitious existence, save as misidentified percepts. The criterion of logical identity cannot bridge sensory and stimulus field divisions of perception, hence Churchland’s objective qualia, said to straddle both fields, cannot furnish an intelligible or sound basis for identification. Naive realism and its intellectualization as direct realism are shown to be at bottom of confoundment of these fields, generating pseudo-problems involving the putative nature and localization of qualia. These conclusions collectively would then disallow the usual attempts to extrapolate from such fictive identities to a further positing of mind-brain identity, by analogy therewith. It is suggested that the method employed in refutation of “pitch is frequency” may have a more general application. The misemployment of the concept and method of intertheoretical identification in connection with phenomenological experience and science of perception is made explicit.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mark Crooks, P.O. Box 745, East Lansing, Michigan 48826. Email: or

Don’t Go There: Reply to Crooks

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 223–232, ISSN 0271–0137

From the fact that experiencing is in the head, nothing follows about the nature, location – or even the existence – of the experiencing’s presumed object. It does not follow that direct realism “cannot possibly be true” (Smythies, 1989, p. 84); much less that “that the experienced world is wholly locked up within one’s brain”; much less still, that it must be “located” in in some spiritual “place” outside of physical space (à la Descartes) or some “higher-dimensional space (higher relative to the physical world)” (Smythies, 1989, p. 98). Direct realism is not only consistent with all the known neurophysiological facts, it coheres far better with surrounding and grounding science – and the neuroscience itself – than the Smythian alternative towards which Crooks (2002, this issue) tends; and it may be had for a reasonable naïve phenomenological cost.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Larry Hauser, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Alma College, Alma, Michigan, 48801. Email:

Identism Without Objective Qualia: Commentary on Crooks

The Journal of Mind and Behavio, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 233–238, ISSN 0271–0137

Crooks (2002, this issue) has rightly pointed out that perceptions are unlike the external stimuli that trigger them, and that any discussion of “objective qualia” is likely to confuse or mislead. The important issue is whether the concept of objective qualia has been just unfortunate terminology and a bad example, or whether discarding the concept seriously harms the underlying position of mind-body identity. Neuroscience research to date has been fully consistent with some version of mind-brain monism, and is beginning to establish which brain areas and types of brain activity are critical for conscious awareness. Nevertheless, it is uncertain how soon, if ever, research will answer the question of why consciousness and brain activity are linked.

Requests for reprints should be sent to James W. Kalat, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7801. Email:

The Compatibility of Direct Realism with the Scientific Account of Perception; Comment on Mark Crooks

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 239–244, ISSN 0271–0137

These comments are concerned to show that direct realism about perception is quite compatible with the physical and neuroscientific story. Use is made of D.M. Armstrong’s account of perception as coming to believe by means of the senses. What we come to believe about is the bird on the gatepost, say. So the account is direct realist. But it is obviously compatible with the scientific story which explains how the coming to believe comes about. We can also identify beliefs with brain states.

Requests for reprints should be sent to J.J.C. Smart, Department of Philosophy, Monash University, Victoria, 3800, Australia.

Comment on Crooks’s “Intertheoretic Identification and Mind-Brain Reductionism”

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 245–248, ISSN 0271–0137

This paper focuses on perception and surveys the scientific evidence that the theory of direct realism adopted by most contemporary philosophers is incorrect. This evidence is provided by experiments on the spatial and temporal “filling-in” of percepts. It also examines the myth of the projection of sensations. The conclusion is that we do not perceive the world as it actually is, but as the brain computes it most probably to be.

Requests for reprints should be sent to John Smythies, M.D., Department of Psychology, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California, 92093-0109. Email:

Four Rejoinders: A Dialogue in Continuation

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 249–278, ISSN 0271–0137

Defenses of realist reductionism may involve petitio principii by a tacit and inadvertent reintroduction of naïve realism through continued supposition of stimulus and sensory fields’ conflation. The legitimate meaningfulness of identity statements involving scientific discoveries is examined, as are their illicit or gratuitous expressions. While experimental psychological data has a role to play in refutation of direct realism, we should not underestimate the ingenuity of its proponents’ extenuations (epicycles), hence the need for emphasizing the logic of perceptual processes for conclusive refutation of philosophic realism. A further instance of Paul Churchland’s misinterpretation of psychophysical correspondence as intertheoretic identification is given, concerning Edwin Land’s retinex theory of color vision.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mark Crooks, P.O. Box 745, East Lansing, Michigan 48826. Email: or

Understanding Physical Realization (and what it does not entail)

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 279–292, ISSN 0271–0137

The notion of realization is defined so that we can better understand what it means to say that mentality is physically realized. It is generally thought that physical properties realize mental properties (thesis PR). The definitions provided here support this belief, but they also reveal that mental properties can be viewed as realizing physical properties. This consequence questions the value of PR in helping us capture the idea that mental phenomena are dependent upon (i.e., obtain by virtue of) physical phenomena. In particular, Kim’s functional model of reduction and Melnyk’s functional definition of physicalism are refuted.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert Francescotti, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, California 92182-8142.

The Experiential Presence of Objects to Perceptual Consciousness: Wilfrid Sellars, Sense Impressions, and Perceptual Takings

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 293–316, ISSN 0271–0137

Discussion of W. Sellars’s rediscovery of experiential presence continues with special reference to J. McDowell’s and J.F. Rosenberg’s recent articles on Sellars’s understanding of perception, and a later effort by Sellars to cast light on the intimate relation between sensing and perceptual taking. Five main sections respectively summarize my earlier discussion of Sellars’s account of experiential presence, draw on Rosenberg’s explication of two Sellarsian modes of responding to sense impressions, consider McDowell’s claim that Sellars’s perceptual takings are shapings of sensory consciousness, introduce Sellars’s Kantian late account of experiential presence, and return critically to McDowell’s thesis: Sellars’s perceptual takings, notwithstanding their being purely conceptual actualizations, give us awareness of the very pinkness of a pink ice cube.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616-8686. Email:

Book Reviews

Animal Cognition: The Mental Lives of Animals

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, , Pages 317–320, ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Animal Cognition: The Mental Lives of Animals, by Clive Wynne, provides a brief exploration of important concepts, methods, and fields of study in the area of animal cognition. Wynne includes information on the history of research into animal minds, and a wide range of data collected from a host of experiments. Animal Cognition encourages those interested to join in the much-needed study of animal behavior, and offers a plethora of graphs, illustrations, and photographs to aid readers.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. L.A. Kemmerer, Department of English & Philosophy, Montana State University, 1500 University Drive, Billings, Montana 59101- 0298. Email:

Philosophical Practice

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 2002, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 321–324, ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Lou Marinoff’s Philosophical Practice outlines the rise of the new profession of philosophical practice and argues that philosophy should aim to be more applicable to issues people face in their everyday lives. Marinoff is the President of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, and author of Plato Not Prozac, and he has arguably managed to draw more attention to philosophical counseling than any other person in America.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Christian Perring, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Dowling College, Oakdale, New York 11769. Email:

Back to 2002