On the philosophical treatment of dualism

This article continues and strengthens a general criticism, already initiated in other pages (1, 2) against the belief that most of current academic philosophers in the world would be proper rational thinkers. Of course the situation is diverse, but quite terrible cases can be found and do not seem isolated. Here will be the focus on a concrete example: the way philosophers handle the topic of substance dualism, with pseudo-discussions on physics heavily loaded by their incompetence in this field. The point is continued in another page with the case of the philosophy of mathematics

I undertook to write this page after stumbling on a web link to this article "Why philosophy is so important in science education" by Subrena E Smith, assistant professor in philosophy. Let us quote some exerpts:

"philosophy addresses issues that can’t be settled by facts alone (...) the philosophy of science is the application of this approach to the domain of science (...) science proceeds by induction, the practices of drawing on past observations to make general claims about what has not yet been observed, but that philosophers see induction as inadequately justified, and therefore problematic for science."
Science sometimes proceeds by induction, but not always. Mathematics is a crucial science, and usually proceeds by deduction. Now indeed some aspects of science proceed by induction. And there are times when induction is not reliable. For theoretical physics, the inductive aspect, while crucial of course, has been relatively trivial (a rather simple story) from an intellectual viewpoint compared to the bulk of other intellectual resources that this science involved. But I understand that point could be easily missed by philosophers. The works of inventing mathematical theories that may better fit observation, then mathematically exploring the consequences of given theories, all require high mathematical skills, that played by far the biggest role. You still want to point to its inductive aspect that you accuse of being dubious for the reasons you say (risk of lack of true statistical significance) ??? for physics still, times when the reliability of data was still debatable, were just very precise times when a first bunch of data is obtained to support a given theory, but it usually did not take long after this until the supporting data becomes astronomically large and diverse making obsolete and ridiculous any debate on its significance. Now the problem of initial doubt may sound crucial as it plays a huge and dangerous role from a journalistic viewpoint that is hurried to report the very last findings of science (a journalistic viewpoint is usually quite far from normal scientific viewpoints on what a "fact" is) and thus very problematic for those philosophers who may look at science from that angle.
I am aware that in other scientific fields such as medicine the role of induction is much higher and subsequent confirmations are often lacking, I'm just personally far from that, sorry....
So there, a majority of published experimental results may have false conclusions because authors focused on doing some experiment (hopefully) and, as experimenters, neglected to pay attention to the theoretical part about what the statistics exactly mean. Anyway it would not be their interest to pay too much attention to the theoretical aspects of lack of significance because they just need to publish a maximum of articles to add to their CV. So what ? We don't need philosophers to reveal the existence of this unreliability problem. Any scientist a little bit serious already knows that, by science alone. Still scientists in such fields need to keep working in that flawed manner because the environment has such incentives and even if they might dream of a better world giving better incentives to proceed more reliably, they just don't find it their job to care designing and implementing a better world that would fit such ideals - it would be very unpractical for them to worry too much about it.
Then what ? Can philosophers do or say any better ? Do they have any solution to this political problem ? Or would they have on their side more reliable methods of research, just because... their own field of research is not itself proceeding by induction but by deduction ? However, absolute validity standards for deduction only exist in mathematics. In other fields like philosophy, "deduction" turns out to be about as unreliable in average as induction from poor pieces of empirical data, as will be illustrated below.
" I then touch on the difficulty of deciding which evidence fits which hypothesis uniquely, and why getting this right is vital for any scientific research. I let them know that ‘the scientific method’ is not singular and straightforward, and that there are basic disputes about what scientific methodology should look like. Lastly, I stress that although these issues are ‘philosophical’, they nevertheless have real consequences for how science is done (....) students were skeptical of [the philosophy professor's] views about science, because, as some said, disapprovingly: “He isn’t a scientist.” (...)They are aware that prominent scientists have stated publicly that philosophy is irrelevant to science, if not utterly worthless and anachronistic.(...) many of them believe that scientists can answer philosophical questions, but philosophers have no business weighing in on scientific ones.(...) Why do college students so often treat philosophy as wholly distinct from and subordinate to science? In my experience, four reasons stand out."
So, what she thinks the reasons are... bad reasons she pleads ? but we'll examine that and then compare to some facts about possible reasons to dismiss the value of philosophy and the work of philosophers...
"[1.] lack of historical awareness [about the origins of] departmental divisions..."
Yes the departmental division between science and philosophy is rather recent, as the first developments of science might be described as looking more like the way philosophers are still now working. Well very long ago, humans were not clearly distinct from apes either, and their ways of living were probably more similar to the way apes are living now. That is where humanity is coming from. This still does not mean that apes have lessons to teach humans about how to live.
"[2.] Philosophy doesn’t seem to have any tangibles to show. But, to the contrary, philosophical tangibles are many: Albert Einstein’s philosophical thought experiments made Cassini possible. Aristotle’s logic is the basis for computer science, which gave us laptops and smartphones. And philosophers’ work on the mind-body problem set the stage for the emergence of neuropsychology and therefore brain-imagining technology. Philosophy has always been quietly at work in the background of science."
Hum, am I not seeing here a fallacy of changing the topic ? One topic is the existence of philosophical aspects of the scientific activity but as far as I saw it did not seem anyone challenges this. The whole disagreement seems to focus on a quite different question that is who understands these philosophical aspects of science better : scientists or philosophers ? So yes Einstein's theoretical researches involved some kinds of philosophical aspects, with a skill of considering philosophical aspects he had precisely because he was a scientist and not a philosopher. Is that clear ? well it should be clear, so if you already feel lost when reading this, maybe you just need to go back to sleep and stop trying to bother with your difficulties of understanding other people who are clever enough to follow.
Now the first basis for computer science is normally considered to have been given not by Aristotle but by Alan Turing, who was especially a great mathematician before being a philosopher, and did not seem very interested with Aristotle.
"[3.] Science, students insist, is purely objective, and anyone who challenges that view must be misguided. A person is not deemed to be objective if she approaches her research with a set of background assumptions. Instead, she’s ‘ideological’. But all of us are ‘biased’ and our biases fuel the creative work of science (...)"
Of course, but that again is just an obvious remark which needs no help of philosophers : personal inspiration can well be influenced by personal biases. But scientific inspiration is one thing while scientific publication is another. After a long research process whose course may be guided by any such biased inspiration, scientists must keep in mind that their job is to end up publishing stuff whose validity is independent of any bias (whose conditions of validity are made explicit as conditionals) in order to deserve the name of scientific publication. They might eventually fail in this requirement, so if it happens then it is (or should be) the job of other scientists to correct them. That is what science means. Just like logicians are not people without feelings, they are just people with the ability to produce stuff which is not a matter of feeling.
"I invite students to look at something nearby without any presuppositions. I then ask them to tell me what they see. They pause… and then recognize that they can’t interpret their experiences without drawing on prior ideas. Once they notice this, the idea that it can be appropriate to ask questions about objectivity in science ceases to be so strange.
[4.] that they think of science as mainly itemizing the things that exist–‘the facts’–and of science education as teaching them what these facts are. I don’t conform to these expectations. But as a philosopher, I am mainly concerned with how these facts get selected and interpreted, why some are regarded as more significant than others, the ways in which facts are infused with presuppositions, and so on(.. .) What students mean to say by ‘facts are facts’ is that once we have ‘the facts’ there is no room for interpretation or disagreement. It’s not because this is the way that science is practiced but rather, because this is how science is normally taught. There are a daunting number of facts and procedures that students must master if they are to become scientifically literate, and they have only a limited amount of time in which to learn them.
Of course, it is often impossible or dubious to recognize individual facts in isolation, but only on the basis of having accepted many other facts. Depending on particular sciences and objects of study, such bodies of facts whose validity rely on each other, may be globally reliable or not. There are fields where it is extremely reliable as the amount of confirmation data far exceeds the complexity of the needed prerequisites, which means that inconsistencies would surely have been detected, leading to the questioning and correction of the prerequisites if they were not actually true, so past science ended up to a large body of facts that needs acceptance to be able to go forward. Now the above baby pedagogical experiment appears designed to disable the understanding of such matters of fact, so in this sense, if done in isolation without mention of the other possible side of things, it can be somewhat anti-pedagogical.

Now there are indeed times when things are less clear than usually assumed, particularly about how things should be presented (as I innovate in presentation of maths and physics and dig into the relevance of the choice of axioms), and how teaching should be organized (which is actually a political/sociological question which hard scientists often cannot have in mind to work on since it is far from their area of specialization even though they should be concerned since it rules their professional activity itself), but there are also times when things are actually clearer than they seem in non-experts eyes and there are philosophers and other people philosophizing too much about them by not knowing enough the body of evidence.
When the question whether there is or there is not evidence for something, is disputed, philosophy may still be useless, as the root of the dispute and its lack of resolution may be not philosophical in nature, nor matters of principles, but technical : a matter of details that need to be analyzed or interpreted in the very specific contexts, or missing information, or too much information that would need to be sorted out, that would require to involve too many principles too many times in too many ways for a single question, so that people have not the time to go study stuff extensively enough. It would be either impossible or a waste of time to try classifying things into specific principles. While principles would be clear in themselves, they are too far away. Struggling with complexity is the only relevant thing to do.

"(...) science brims with important conceptual, interpretative, methodological, and ethical issues that philosophers are uniquely situated to address"
That philosophers would be uniquely situated to address these : what an opinion ! but where are the facts to support it ??? I do not even see this as claim as a consensual one among philosophers themselves. Indeed, strong reasons to doubt this may be inferred from the lack of progress in philosophy (reported for example in David Chalmers, Why Isn’t There More Progress in Philosophy?, 2015), if it was expected that a good understanding of methodological issues by a community of researchers should lead to collective progress of knowledge and thus convergence of opinions in their discipline, which I do personally expect. But more concrete, detailed supporting observations will be given below.

David Chalmers on dualism

I must admit there are times when philosophers do contribute to the awareness of such kinds of issues which may indeed be crucial problems at the very basis of a whole field of inquiry. Here is an example of such a contribution by the famous philosopher David Chalmers: an observation he brought to public attention in his 2002 paper Consciousness and its Place in Nature:
" The collapse dynamics leaves a door wide open for an interactionist interpretation. Any physical nondeterminism might be held to leave room for nonphysical effects, but the principles of collapse do much more than that. Collapse is supposed to occur on measurement. There is no widely agreed definition of what a measurement is, but there is one sort of event that everyone agrees is a measurement: observation by a conscious observer. Further, it seems that no purely physical criterion for a measurement can work, since purely physical systems are governed by the linear Schrödinger dynamics. As such, it is natural to suggest that a measurement is precisely a conscious observation, and that this conscious observation causes a collapse. (...) there are alternative interpretations (...) Nevertheless, quantum mechanics appears to be perfectly compatible with such an interpretation. In fact, one might argue that if one was to design elegant laws of physics that allow a role for the conscious mind, one could not do much better than the bipartite dynamics of standard quantum mechanics: one principle governing deterministic evolution in normal cases, and one principle governing nondeterministic evolution in special situations that have a prima facie link to the mental. Many physicists reject it precisely because it is dualistic, giving a fundamental role to consciousness. (...) There is some irony in the fact that philosophers reject interactionism on largely physical grounds (it is incompatible with physical theory), while physicists reject an interactionist interpretation of quantum mechanics on largely philosophical grounds (it is dualistic). Taken conjointly, these reasons carry little force (...). I have been as guilty of this as anyone, setting aside interactionism in Chalmers 1996 partly for resons of compatibility with physics"
The points about the likely role of consciousness in quantum physics are not any discovery as they should be attributed to the original authors of this interpretation : physicists and mathematicians Arthur Eddington (1928), John von Neumann (1932), Sir James Jeans (1932), Fritz London and Edmond Bauer (1939), and the Physics Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner in the 1960s. The one page introductory essay by Richard Conn Henry (2008) to Arthur Eddington's book, would deserve being quoted here so it is a must read.
The effective philosophical contribution here is to point out this sociological accident of misunderstanding between both communities of researchers who somehow passively relied on each other's opinions in guise of authorities in support of a presumed fact which nobody actually had any genuine argument for. Now this raises a few questions.

A first question is the share of responsibility in this misunderstanding, between both communities (physicists and philosophers). Are physicists guilty of giving excessive trust to philosophers on this topic ? This is unlikely to happen, since they generally distrust the works of philosophers. They freely choose their personal philosophy, which as explained above they have full right to do with no obligation of backing it up with scientific evidence, as long as this "risk of error" does not undermine the objective validity of their scientific publications. And this is actually the case : this whole issue plays no foundational role for physics and can thus be safely ignored by physics research, in the sense that predictions of quantum physics remain valid independently of the interpretation. More precisely, if the mind chooses by free will the result of some neurological processes among "probable" ones instead of leaving them to the strict application of the probabilities deduced from quantum theory, therefore driving the actual outcomes of these processes away from these theoretical probability laws, this still does not undermine the validity of quantum theory and its probabilistic predictions in most of other, "purely physical" phenomena, that is under circumstances (yet to be characterized) in which such an influence of preferences from any observer's free will would not apply.

Therefore, the responsibility of the misunderstanding has to be mainly put on the shoulders of philosophers. Indeed, considering any description of philosophy in terms of its list of main topics of inquiry, this question of the status of consciousness with respect to physical laws and phenomena regularly appears as a prominent question. Add to this the fact that any study or debate about the interpretations of quantum physics, even those only opposing several interpretations which all deny any role of consciousness, inevitably faces prominent philosophical, metaphysical issues. In such conditions, the debate on the interpretations of quantum physics really ought to have been a main focus of concern for philosophers. Yet there is a kind of big difficulty here : to be able to fully understand the issue and its possible arguments, one needs to study quantum physics first.

A second question is how could so many philosophers, thus, have persisted for so long in the ignorance of this news of such importance for their own work, since these philosophical lessons from modern physics were first explained by Arthur Eddington in his 1928 book "The Nature of the Physical World" and further by more prominent physicists since then ? I mean let us compare a little bit with the methods of physics: when the community of physicists agreed to identify a prominent question of their field (is there a Higgs boson), they undertook to unite their efforts, with a whole structured organization, to build the LHC that would test this hypothesis. Now, which great project did the community of philosophers undertake to investigate the physical possibilities or impossibilities of mind-matter interaction ? Any crowdfunding to support the great and courageous efforts of a few adventurous members of their community who would dare going for the mission of making a little step for a philosopher but giant leap for the philosophical community : undertaking the great voyage to go put a foot on the alien planet of theoretical physics, by attending some high-level courses on quantum physics, and then reporting any philosophical consequences they could learn from there to the rest of philosophers, all waiting in front of their radio or TV set in passionate expectation of that report ? Actually some philosophers did undertake the quest of learning quantum physics but it does not seem clear if while doing so, any of them had in mind the crucial question of assessing the possibility of dualism, not only focusing on some examination of naturalistic interpretations and assessing the merits and drawbacks of each naturalistic interpretation against other naturalistic interpretations. Moreover, why are there still so many other philosophers who pretend to talk about the state of affairs in metaphysics or the mind/body problem by focusing for example on Descartes or other philosophers formulations of the "physical", ignoring all reference to interpretations of quantum physics.

A third question is, did this news of having been so deeply mistaken for so long in their officially "established", teachable body of evidences, news thus brought closer to the eyes of the philosophical community by David Chalmers in 2002, induce the electroshock that such news should necessarily have induced in any decent community of supposedly rational researchers ? How many of those philosophy teachers who had thus falsely presented for so long to their students as a "conclusive proof" that argument of the "closure of physics" which should have been already dismissed as empty since long, had the decency to resign from their academic position to apologize for that fault, otherwise why didn't they ?

Now let us review a few philosophical references and articles, to see how they present stuff.

Encyclopedia articles

Looking at the Dualism article of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, for how it handles the connections with the laws of physics.
The first is "The Conservation of Energy Argument". This argument is ridiculously outdated. It may belong to the history of philosophy, but should have nothing to do in current lists of significant arguments anymore. To say in short, that is because the law of conservation of energy (more precisely the conservation of a 10-dimensional stuff having energy as one of its components in a given frame), is a consequence of the laws of physics but does not determine them : it leaves plenty of freedom for behavior (as is roughly explained already among replies in the wikipedia article : "...may influence the distribution of energy, without altering its quantity"). In that section I see "The dualists' basically have three ways of replying." Which dualists please ? The first two of these "ways of replying", which are the same, are stupidities that may only be said by people who have no idea about physics so that they are unaware, both that this argument being void does not deserve a reply, and that in modern physics the conservation of energy is not a postulate but a mathematical theorem from the definition of this stuff that is conserved (namely a theorem of curved geometry in general relativity), making it logically impossible for this conservation to be violated whatever law-breaking miracle might be thought of. The "third reply", then, is of course a sketch of the actual modern scientific view explaining by quantum physics the action of immaterial minds over matter, and it is not a reply to the conservation of energy non-argument, but to the actual general argument from a presumed determinism of physics, by the fact that physics is not actually deterministic... Still the expression written there of this "third reply" is polluted by its strangely added two last sentences which are another repetition of the previous two stupid replies ("Further, it should be remembered that the conservation of energy is designed around material interaction; it is mute on how mind might interact with matter. After all, a Cartesian rationalist might insist, if God exists we surely wouldn't say that He couldn't do miracles just because that would violate the first law of thermodynamics, would we?").
The article continues with its next section "c. Problems of Interaction" explaining that supposed "problem", forgetting that it was resolved by the reply by quantum physicists which was mentioned in the above "third reply". The discussion there is senseless since it just involves some philosophical pseudo-concepts of "causality" and the like, ignoring the much more precise solution by quantum physics. Fortunately, it takes note of the vacuity of what would be but an incompetence argument :

"It is useful to be reminded, however, that to be bewildered by something is not in itself to present an argument against, or even evidence against, the possibility of that thing being a matter of fact. To ask "How is it possible that . . . ?" is merely to raise a topic for discussion. And if the dualist doesn't know or cannot say how minds and bodies interact, what follows about dualism? Nothing much. It only follows that dualists do not know everything about metaphysics."
Now about the wikipedia article. Similar waste of time debating philosophical pseudo-concepts and the irrelevant "conservation of energy" instead of focusing on the modern physical solution. More waste of time with the conservation of energy: "Well understood scenarios in general relativity violate energy conservation". No they don't, it is just problematic to write a proper definition of energy in a curved space-time, since, so to say, its definitions depend on coordinate systems, while there is no natural coordinate system in a curved space-time. The sense of words being relative to definitions, it can be just as legitimate to say energy is conserved as that it is not conserved, because these are just meaningless packs of words written in common language which cannot properly reflect the subtle and complex mathematical concepts which are actually involved.
"where the degree of determinism increases with the scale of the system (see Quantum decoherence)" False. By decoherence, what increases with the scale of the system is not determinism but the relevance of classically probabilistic descriptions (the impossibility of making alternative possibilities interfere again with each other). Large scale behavior can very well be fundamentally indeterministic, by a randomness coming from quantum source. When looking at the Brownian motion of some nanoparticle by heat in a liquid or gas, the randomness of this motion comes entirely from some quantum source in almost no time. In the case of the brain it can be naturally expected to give macro reactions coming from quantum randomness, simply transferred from the microscopic scale to the large scale as can be classically described in intermediate scales by the Butterfly effect, in small fractions of a second.

In another wikipedia article : the article on naturalism in philophy,

Clear expression of a kind of acute hallucination, when the actual build-up of scientific evidence from the twentieth century goes into the exactly opposite direction to this claim by the success of quantum physics.

Finally, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, while still reviewing the usual wasteful stuff, includes a correct report of the main aspect of the natural solution :

"The problem with closure of physics may be radically altered if physical laws are indeterministic, as quantum theory seems to assert. If physical laws are deterministic, then any interference from outside would lead to a breach of those laws. But if they are indeterministic, might not interference produce a result that has a probability greater than zero, and so be consistent with the laws? This way, one might have interaction yet preserve a kind of nomological closure, in the sense that no laws are infringed. Because it involves assessing the significance and consequences of quantum theory, this is a difficult matter for the non-physicist to assess."
Checking by archive.org, this part was already included in all previously archived versions of the article (the first archived version is from 2006).

More articles

A little bit of googling for further articles on the topic quickly gave the following.
One article I will not comment because it just repeats the above stuff; the author is actually specialized in other fields of philosophy, so I will excuse him for carelessly repeating the rumor about what the debate is supposed to be...
A more interesting article is Giving Dualism its Due by William G. Lycan (2009):
"This paper argues that no convincing case has been made against substance dualism, and that standard objections to it can be credibly answered.
(...) like many other materialists, I have often quickly cited standard objections to dualism that are widely taken to be fatal, e.g. [Lycan 1987: 2–3]—notoriously the dread Interaction Problem. My materialism has never wavered. Nor is it about to waver now (...) Being a philosopher, of course I would like to think that my stance is rational, held not just instinctively and scientistically and in the mainstream, but because the arguments do indeed favour materialism over dualism. But I do not think that, though I used to

[in conclusion] The dialectical upshot is that, on points, and going just by actual arguments as opposed to appeals to decency and what good guys believe, materialism is not significantly better supported than dualism."
Another top google result I got was this teaching material of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (London) which according to its url is from 2015. It was probably linked at some time from its teaching resources page but is no more. Here are some excerpts:
"...It turns out to be very difficult to say how the mind and body interact once you say that they are made up of different substances. Descartes himself was very aware of this task facing his theory, and (...) give a direct answer to it. Unfortunately, his answer was not altogether convincing.
[in footnote:] The correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia is great fun to read
It should be kept in mind that substance dualism is very much out of favour in contemporary philosophy of mind (with a very few exceptions - see further reading). In large part, its decline in popularity came from a science-led 19th century movement to bring our understanding of the mind under a world-view that appeals only to entities we would recognise as part of the natural, or physical, world. As a part of this effort to ‘naturalise’ the mind, philosophers started looking for a way to answer the mind-body problem that avoided the substance dualist’s mysterious ‘ghosts in the machine’...Because of this, substance dualism is now normally taught as part of the historical overview of the mind-body problem, and as a useful alternative with which to contrast the substance monist physicalist theories that dominate contemporary philosophy of mind. (...) It’s likely that most students will intuitively be quite sympathetic to dualism, so this is a good place to start in a course on the philosophy of mind. This also means, however, that the arguments against it might be a bit of a hard-sell. It’s important, however, that the students are persuaded of the inadequacy of substance dualism if they are going to stay on board with the search for the right physicalist theory of mind for the rest of the course, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on why it can’t be right. "
Now I understand : all students who won't be convinced of the falsity of dualism aren't going to stay on board, as they would die of boredom and unease while being obliged to learn the huge amount of developments of materialistic views required to complete their philosophy graduation requirements, which they would see as a big bunch of pure nonsense. That may explain why the 19th century shift of the philosophical community towards materialism became irreversible. Let us continue:
"The interaction problem amounts to the challenge to the substance dualist to explain how such causal interaction could take place between substances as radically different – on the substance dualist’s account – as the mind and the body. How is it possible? It is deeply mysterious, ... The substance dualist is left with an explanatory gap which has yet to be filled in satisfactorily; even Descartes had little to say in response to it. "
yes because he did not know about quantum physics
"Notice that it is really this failure on the part of the substance dualist rather than the argument itself that gives the interaction problem its force. After all, we rarely take the fact that we don’t yet know how to explain something as decisive reason to reject the phenomena that gave rise to the explanatory question in the first place – scientific disciplines would hardly get very far if we did! It is, then, the fact, that the explanatory gap in this case is so apparently difficult to fill in that really gives the interaction problem its teeth.
Teaching tips: As noted above, the force of the interaction problem really comes from the substance dualist’s failure to come up with a satisfying response to the explanatory challenge. One way to get students to see the power of this problem is to get them brainstorming on the part of the substance dualist, each time trying to show that their suggested answer won’t work. This way they will get to feel the frustration of the substance dualist for themselves, and hopefully be moved by the force of the challenge. "
How unfair is this game of challenging philosophy undergraduates to solve a problem whose solution is naturally but only accessible to master level students of theoretical physics (but even if one physicist was in the class and tried to explain the solution he would not have the time and possibility because the assistant professor of philosophy leading that class, being clueless about modern physics, would not understand what he is talking about). When mathematicians wanted to prove that there is no algebraic solution to the general polynomial equations of degree five or higher with arbitrary coefficients, they did not proceed by challenging a class of humanities-oriented students to search for such solutions and victoriously observing their utter failure to find any.
Here is the argument from the causal closure of the physical:
(1) Mental states often, or systematically, cause physical events
(2) Every physical event has a sufficient physical cause
(3) Physical events do not systematically have more than one sufficient cause
Therefore mental causes must be identical to physical causes
(...) The interaction problem is a kind of ‘brute’ argument that works by simply confronting the substance dualist with a seemingly unanswerable explanatory challenge. By contrast, although the argument from the causal closure of the physical relies on a number of premises that require a bit of working out, the syllogistic form of the argument can make its conclusion feel more gratifyingly ‘earned’ than that of the interaction problem "
This reminds me the following joke I once heard in high school :
How can you put an elephant into a fridge in 3 steps ?
(1) You open the door of the fridge
(2) You put the elephant inside
(3) You close the door of the fridge
So well philosophers can feel proud of their skill of using Aristotelian logic, that is the use of syllogisms, in try to solve great philosophical problems. However, mathematics and other sciences had to develop logic and other methods to a much higher level, much more elaborated than the logic of Aristotle, in order to solve the harder problems there are in the world.
So the trouble I see in this reasoning is the dire inability of philosophers to make the difference between some trivial steps of reasoning, which hardly deserve a mention, and the core steps on which the work should obviously focus if we want to interpret the wanted question in accordance to its proper natural meaning. And just as one needs to be a baby thinker for not dying of boredom while detailing all those trivial steps with all the crazy "alternative possibilities" by which these trivial steps might fail, one also needs to be a baby thinker for tolerating the core steps to be passed over so quickly and superficially as presented in this paper.
"We could, according to (2), describe all of the physical happenings in the world (including our bodily movements) in this way, using purely physical language. If that is right, then for every physical event we are sure to find a physical cause – to think otherwise, the thought is, would be something like believing in telekenesis."
By the way, what do you have against psychokinesis ?
"There are also somewhat more theory-laden arguments than this that we could have appealed to to motivate the second premise. The arguments I have in mind rely on the fundamental scientific principle of energy conservation which, roughly speaking, says that the total amount of energy within a closed physical system can’t ever go up or down, even if it can move around the system. If this is right (and it is almost universally accepted) then any physical event must be wholly describable as an exchange of energy occurring entirely within the physical system in question. This is probably more than would be needed to motivate (2) at this level so I won’t pursue this line of thought here, but see further resources below.
Some responses to the causal closure argument have focused on whether or not we have a sharp enough notion of ‘the physical’ to know what a thesis like that of the causal closure of the physical would really amount to. Should it only include entities allowed into our current best physical theories? But how can we be sure that our best theories capture everything there really is to capture in a physical theory? Should we instead be talking about ‘the physical’ as a domain that includes all of the entities in some future or ideal physical theory? But then, do we really know what we’re talking about? "
Well you really don't what you are talking about, not because you don't include all the entities in some future or ideal physical theory, but because you are remaining stuck in the 19th century, so that the much closer-to-ideal 20th century physics still belongs to some inconceivable future with respect to you (you never started learning about what our current best physical theories may actually have to say).
" For a clear, thorough and reader-friendly discussion of the causal closure of the physical see David Papineau’s chapter in The Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Mind, Oxford: OUP (2009), online copy here:(...)
For more on the principle of energy conservation, have a look at Robin Collins, ‘Modern Physics and the Energy Conservation Objection to Mind-Body Dualism’ in American Philosophical Quarterly...."
[which shows the vacuity of the argument, so why having wasted time mentioning that empty argument in the first place ?]
Then looking at David Papineau’s chapter found at a different url. Again a huge waste of pages on ridiculously irrelevant stuff, among which again the current vs future physics dilemma. The core of the topic there is only addressed in the following little excerpts.
"(Isn’t the causal closure of physics undermined by quantum-mechanical indeterminism? Well, quantum mechanics does call for a more careful formulation of the causal-closure thesis, but this doesn’t matter for the philosophical implications. Let us shelve this complication until Section 2.3.)
[Section 2.3] To make sure we have the right kind of closure thesis, we thus need to require that every physical effect have a physical cause that suffices on its own. However, this last requirement now highlights the need for the final qualification entered above— that every physical effect has a sufficient immediate physical cause ‘in so far as it has a sufficient immediate cause at all’. The reason for this latter qualification is to accommodate the indeterminism of modern quantum mechanics, which tells us that certain physical effects are random, without any sufficient determining cause. At first sight it might seem as if this qualification will empty the causal-closure thesis of any interest, and in particular prevent it from implying that everything with physical effects must itself be physical. For it might seem that quantum indeterminism creates room for sui generis non-physical causes (operations of the will, perhaps) to exert a ‘downwards’ influence on the physical realm, by influencing whether or not random quantum events occur. However, this appearance is illusory. Quantum mechanics still specifies that random physical effects have their probabilities fixed by sufficient immediate physical causes. If we understand the causal closure of the physical as covering this kind of physical determination of physical probabilities, then it will once more rule out any sui generis non-physical cause for a physical effect. For any such sui generis cause would have to make a difference to the probability of the relevant physical effect, and this would once more run counter to the causal closure thesis, understood now as implying that this probability is already fixed by some sufficient immediate physical cause."
I just wonder why, philosophers being supposedly better inspired by scientists to raise questions about philosophical aspects of given scientific concepts, no philosophical question was raised here about what it could exactly mean for the laws of nature to be probabilistic at a fundamental level, and what it might mean for the probability of a given event to be completely fixed by a given law. Now this excerpt satisfies itself writing its definition of how to interpret the statement of the "causal closure of the physical" but where is the reason to hold it at true ? The first paragraph of the article announced where the evidence of its truth was supposed to be: "Section 2.2 then discusses the evidence for the thesis from a historical perspective." A proof by historical perspective, is that a proof by deduction or by induction ? So, section 2.2 supposedly proved by history a statement then only defined in section 2.3. Now, coming back to that proof of 2.2. After so many pages wasted with the prehistory of physics and the conservation of energy and "the Newtonian conservation of energy does not stop deterministic vital and mental forces affecting the physical realm", it only touches the 20th century as follows:
"Nevertheless, during the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries an increasing number of scientists have come to doubt the existence of vital and mental forces. "
So, centuries of wondering on the basis of classical physics ended up formulating the question in the wrong physical terms, after which modern science provided a negative answer to that wrongly formulated question.
"The most significant evidence seems to have come directly from physiology and molecular biology, rather than from physics. Over the last hundred and fifty years a great deal has come to be known about the workings of biological systems (including brains), and there has been no indication that anything other than basic physical forces is needed to account for their operation. In particular, the twentieth century has seen an explosion of knowledge about processes occurring within cells, and here too there is no evidence of anything other than familiar physical chemistry"
Wait wait, of course a lot of valuable advances were made, but much of the findings of biology still largely proceed by induction rather than deduction, which leaves significant possibilities to fail identifying the exact nature of the causes of some observed effects such as placebo effects. And no I cannot accept the claim that known physical forces might explain it all. Not all biologists reach the same conclusions (see Biocentrism by Robert Lanza). And I have a quite different personal experience in this field.

The same fuss is given for example in the SEP article on naturalism, with this paragraph saying it in a way which vaguely seems to present itself as an argument, but with my best effort I cannot find which logical argument is supposed to be contained there :



I'd be tempted to propose a new kind of substance dualism : the science/philosophy dualism. It separates two kinds of thinking substances : the scientific thought vs the philosophical thought. While the scientific thought has clear, intense interactions with the external world via its empirical methods and its technological contributions, classifying the philosophical thought as of a fundamentally different nature from the scientific thought would account for this very serious interaction problem : how can it have any significant interaction with this science-world combination ? Following the idea of Occasionalism according to which "on every occasion on which it seems as if there is such an interaction, God is intervening so as to cause a mental experience appropriate to the physical event, or vice versa", might we explain by the intervention of God all the cases when the works of scientists benefit being inspired by some good philosophy which philosophers had the impression of providing but without having directly interacted with them ? and are philosophers expecting God to ensure their thought to be regularly updated to the current best scientific theories with no need of doing the work to learn them ?
So no, I don't think, in average, philosophers would be uniquely situated to address important conceptual, interpretative, methodological, and ethical issues. Because many of them just know no method, no rationality, no logic, no concept, no interpretation, no debate, no truth seeking, no relevant question, no ethics, nothing.

Philosophers response to this

(Maybe this isn't worth adding as it may be just the personal problem of one moderator which other people would not support, but... what brought that philosophical forum to be ruled this absurd way ? this is a philosophical question...)
I wrote in reply to this thread the following comment:
None of the usually considered forms of dualism face any interaction problem, which is a mere imaginary problem, an artifact caused by the ignorance of academic philosophers who are clueless about physics. I debunked it there :
On the philosophical treatment of dualism
The only relevant question should thus be whether a form of dualism can be found which actually faces an interaction problem. And I finally provided one in the Conclusion of that page.
The reaction ? My post was censored, by "Bernard J Ortcutt" (seems not a real name but a pseudonym taken from some philosophical fiction) ! Why ? Because it was not "up to standards" of that subreddit. What are these standards ?
Answers on /r/askphilosophy should be:
Substantive and well-researched (i.e. not one-liners or otherwise uninformative)
Accurately portray the state of research and literature (i.e. not inaccurate or false)
Come only from those with relevant knowledge of the question (i.e. not from commenters who don't understand the state of the research on the question)
What does it mean ? (Apart from the fact they may be wishing people to waste time writing just for that forum at the risk of being censored instead of linking to arguments developed in an external site)
Visibly, it means that the criteria for acceptance have nothing to do with stuff being logical, scientifically informed and well-justified. What only matters is that it must be in conformity with what this crowd of idiots who call themselves "philosophers" keeps repeating and believing in their circles. Oh yeah. What does it mean by "(i.e. not inaccurate or false)" : what if it is the "state of research" which is clearly false ?? the "i.e" here is an unjustified assumption of equivalence. I do perfectly understand the "state of the research" on the question, and I did not need much study to conclude that it is a state of vain, incompetent "research".
I made a logically valid analysis to refute a dominating utter nonsense of philosophers thought, and the only defense of these philosophers against genuine argument is censorship of criticism ! that is how their bullshit level can keep forever going up to the stratosphere. I understand, philosophers rejected logical positivism, so they also rejected the concern of being falsifiable (= accepting correction), which the scientific truth seeking is based on. But this remark may be an over-interpretation of a kind of reaction which actually is just a reaction having nothing to do with any kind of definite thought or philosophical principle whatsoever, as is so often the case.
That seems to be a general law : the more absurd a dominating view is, the better this preserves it from any risk of criticism, since any geniune criticism would seem much too incredible and insulting to "deserve" being taken seriously.
A general law which I observed in another issue, while more developments on the issue of the academic system are in my videos.

Finally another pseudo-debate occurred in the comments of that video

Related pages :
About the FQXI essay contest on the math/physics connection
Introduction to quantum physics for philosophers
The Mind makes collapse interpretation
The naturalism of physicists
The decay of materialism and its conflict with quantum physics, and other pages on materialism vs. parapsychology
What is science
Philosophy : currently a pseudo-science