Kripke’s Modal Argument Against Type Identity Theories

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Type identity theories are mainly concerned with the premise that the brain and the mind are identical and discuss mental states and reduce them to the physical. Saul Kripke made some influential criticisms to type identity theory. Kripke’s criticisms rely on views about essentialism, modality and possible world semantics, (Hanks) Kripke’s argument is directed at the thesis from Identity theory that each physical state is identical to an undifferentiated mental state, Kripke relies upon the concept of a rigid designator, and the necessity of this rigid designator to disprove statements of identity. Kripke states these “analytic tools go against the identity theory.” (Munitz,1971:163)

The identity theory of the mind is a physicalist theory which holds that “every mental state is identical with some state in the brain” (Braddon-Mitchell&Jackson,2006:95), According to the identity theory, desire and beliefs are all just physical states of your brain. Many philosophers agree that the mind is not an entity that can exist independently of its states and is an aggregation of its ‘mental states unified into ‘one’ mind.’(ibid) If one thinks of experiencing pain, the identity theory of mind claims that this experience is a brain process and not merely correlated with brain processes.(Smart,2012) Kripke disagrees with type identity, because one can conceive of the mental state without the brain state (and vice versa), which will be explained later in this essay.

Type identity theories, speak of scientific identity, science talks of causal links, but also of identity. In science no truth can be gained from just thinking about instances, empirical truths must be gained a posteriori, through observations and experiments. Therefore, one know’...

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... London. p32.
Kripke, S., 1980, Naming and Necessity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp.150-160

Lowe, E.J. 2007, An introduction to the philosophy of mind, United States of America, New York, Cambridge University Press. pg 146.

Munitz, M (1971) Identity and Individuation. “Identity and Necessity” New York, New York Press. pg 163

Putnam, H., (1975), ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’, in H. Putnam, Mind, Language and Reality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Smart, J.J.C., (1981), ‘Physicalism and Emergence’, Neuroscience, 6: pp. 109–113.

Smart, J. J. C., (2012) "The Mind/Brain Identity Theory", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , Edward N. Zalta (ed.), [Online at 07/12/2013]

Soames, S (1998). The Modal Argument: Wide Scope and Rigidified Descriptions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
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