RPD12.8: Can naturalism account for qualia?





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Published on Jan 5, 2012

Ben Schuldt from the St. Louis Ethical Society (http://www.ethicalstl.org/) debated Carla Mae Streeter, Professor of Systematic Theology, from the Aquinas Institute of Theology (http://ai.edu/AboutUs/FacultyandAdmin...) on the true nature of mind.

Naturalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphys..., ) is the worldview that (basically) only things made of the Standard Model in physics exist (or are what we know, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard...). There are no irreducible mental substances.

Qualia is the philosophical term for "sense experience." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qua...

So is the brain a biological computer or is there some immaterial, supernatural component as well? The heart of the mind/body debate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind%E2%...) between physicalists and dualists is the nature of qualia.

The framing of this debate is based off of the popular counter in religious philosophy when evidence of the supernatural is demanded by critics of religion like the New Atheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_atheist). Qualia is a popular "go to" argument to point out a ready example of the supernatural in action.

Both the student and professional debates at Skepticon 2 (Ben Schuldt participated in that student debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUjOu2...) brought up a number of issues between Christianity and atheism, but both eventually funneled into this one issue that never really got proper treatment. So this debate is meant to follow up and focus in on that topic.

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