Making Sense of Biological Naturalism
Hodges, Jennefer Anne
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.