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Arnold Kling cites William Byers’ book The Blind Spot:

Until recently, the conventional scientific view was that mind could be reduced to brain, that the physical brain was primary phenomenon and the mind was merely an epiphenomenon. Yet, in recent years, evidence has emerged that the physical configuration of the brain is malleable and can change as a result of learning, thinking, and other mental activities–in short, that the mind can influence the brain…

The underlying question here seems to be whether mind consists of more than just the particles of the brain.  What’s at stake is whether minds can be fully understood, modeled, and replicated.  Particles of the brain, being particles, are somewhat predictable, whereas any non-particle metaphysical component of the mind might not be.  In other words, can the mind be modeled accurately, or not?  I consider this an open question.

Kling continues:

Byers afflicts the comfortable by emphasizing the role of ambiguity in science. Most people want science to play the role of resolving ambiguity. Byers argues that scientific progress comes from confronting and sometimes even embracing ambiguity–for example, the theory that an electron is both a wave and a particle. Thus, the role of ambiguity in science is….ambiguous.

Indeed, ambiguity results from accepting multiple conflicting models.


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