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Title: Making sense of biological naturalism
Author: Hodges, Jennefer Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 8040
Awarding Body: University of Hertfordshire
Current Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Date of Award: 2014
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Searle’s theory of Biological Naturalism has been largely ignored in the philosophical literature and Searle’s commentators are confused by his seemingly contradictory views. In this dissertation I attempt to make sense of Biological Naturalism. In chapter 2 I will ascertain which concerns prevent Searle’s readers from understanding his position. The remaining chapters aim to dissolve the tensions and dispel any confusion. Chapter 3 considers Searle’s notion of first-person ontology, finding that it expresses a belief that experiences are essentially subjective and qualitative. In chapter 4 I consider the notions of levels of description, causal reduction and what Searle means by causation and realisation. Chapter 5 turns to the question of how to categorise Searle’s position. Many of his critics charge him with being a property dualist. By highlighting the difference between the meaning of irreducibility intended by the property dualist and Searle I show that there is sufficient difference in their use of the term so as to reject an interpretation of Biological Naturalism as a form of property dualism. Chapter 6 is where I turn to the other end of the physicalism/dualism spectrum and assess whether Searle should be seen as holding a form of identity theory. I first argue for a neutral form of identity that I call real identity, which does not include the inherent reductive privileging of standard identity. I then argue that Searle should be seen as advocating a form of real identity theory; a form of token identity theory which does not privilege the physical over the mental. In chapter 7 I return to the main barriers to making sense of Biological Naturalism which I identified in chapter 2 and lay out my response to each. I conclude with a coherent interpretation of Searle’s position.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: John Searle ; Biological Naturalism ; levels of description ; real identity theory ; mind-brain identity ; privileging the physical ; mental causation