Philosophy of nature, Reductionism, Mind and body, Materialism, Subjectivity
This paper assesses the main argument of Thomas Nagel's recent book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. The paper agrees with Nagel that, as an approach to the relation between mind and matter and the mystery of subjective experience, neutral monism is more likely to be true than either materialism or idealism. It disagrees with Nagel by favoring a version of neutral monism based on emergence rather than on a reductive pan-psychism. However, the paper invokes a reductive view when applied to information (as opposed to psyche), and posits a hierarchy of types of information that span the domains of matter, life, and mind. Subjective experience is emergent, but also continuous with informational phenomena at lower levels.
Zwick, M. (2013). "Is the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature False?" Presented at the 65th Annual Northwest Philosophy Conference, Pacific University, Oct. 4-5, 2013.