Monday, February 28, 2011

Graham Priest Interview, Part I

A few weeks back, Edgar Aroutiounian told me on Facebook that he was planning to interview Graham Priest for the Florida Student Philosophy Blog, and he asked me if I had any questions I'd like asked. I gave him some, then blogged my questions here, since I figured they were detailed enough to double as a pretty decent (if incomplete) snapshot of a lot of my objections to Priest's version of the dialetheist project. Anyway, the interview's been split into two parts, and my questions are all in the second part, which hasn't been posted yet, but Part I is available here.

Most of the questions in Part I are relatively light and biographical in nature (nothing wrong with that--some of his answers are quite interesting), but the most philosophically interesting question was the last one, a somewhat confusingly-worded question about "consistent physicalism." Priests answer included the following passage:

"Functionalism, and materialist views of the mind in general, of course have problems. The most obvious is what to say about 'raw feels' (though the problem of intentionality is also a hard one). There are different possibilities about what to say about this. I guess that most of them are consistent, but how adequate they are is much debated. (I’ve never heard anyone suggest that dialetheism might help with the matter.)"

........which, of course, amused me because I do know someone who has publicly suggested just that!

More seriously, though, Ryan's comic raises a good point:

Why on earth hasn't Priest or anyone else floated a dialetheic theory of mind and the (ir)reducibility of raw feels to functional states? The arguments for both halves of the relevant contradiction are independently extremely powerful and compelling (and often felt to be that way even by philosophers who unambiguously put themselves in one or the other camp), the problem has been with us for a long time, and it seems to exhibit much the same sort of intuitive intractability as Priest's favorite paradoxes.

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