Philosophy Paper 11/19/13 Property Dualism Throughout the medical field, the theory of the mind has an important impact on how medicine is practiced in society. How a physician diagnoses and treats patients will affect the overall health that the patients receive. There are two different theories that I will be assessing in this paper, dualism and physicalism. In this paper, I argue that a physician should have the theory of property dualism, that the mind and body are two different units acting together. In order to best treat patients in medicine, dualism is essential for the best possible care.
First, I will identify the meaning of property dualism and physicialsim by looking at the arguments of Switankowsky supporting why physicians should adopt dualism, and show examples. After that, I will show the counterargument of Forstmann et al on physicialsim. Dualism is the presumption proposed by Descartes that the human mind and the body are two distinct entities that interact with each other to make a person. Descartes argued that the mind and body communicated with each other through a small structure at the base of the brain called the pineal gland.
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Reality for dualists is divided into a hysical natural world and a non-physical supernatural world. Humans have a theoretical foot in each camp, so to speak ??” a physical body attached to the natural world and a temporarily-housed spirit that wants to be reunited with the supernatural. Property dualism claims that there is only one kind of substance, material substance. There are however two different kinds of properties, physical properties and mental properties. The mental properties in this view cannot be reduced to physical states.
Importantly, the mental properties are able to produce an effect on the physical states of one’s body (eg. generate movement). Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, there are no kinds of things other than physical things. The definition physicalism as the universe is composed of everything known by physics, one can point out that physics cannot describe how the mind functions. Take love for example: Love is something that dualists would probably say is clearly entirely separate from the physical body.
You can’t point to love, you can’t open up your head and see the love there in your skull, so they would argue that it is clearly eparate from the physical body. However, modern science has shown us that when someone is in love or has feelings of love, different parts of the brain light up and certain chemicals are released. Although love may not be its own physical structure inside your head, it is creating some sort of physical change in the brain, which then also creates a change in the mind (serotonin, endorphins, etc. Switankowsky makes many arguments why adopting dualism would be preferable to physicialsim in a medical context. One argument she makes is that patient consists of two things, self and body, and that both are disrupted with illness. The “lived-body’ belongs to a particular person, and the person is closely connected to the body. Illness is not merely regarded as the physical dysfunction of the body but rather as a disorder of the body and self of a particular patient. It concerns about long and short term projects in your life.
Another argument that she made is treating the “livid- experience” of illness. Dualistic framework can create a more humanistic account of patient care within the medical context. Physician will have to: reassure patient by giving them confidence, help them gain the strength to resume their normal daily ctivities, spend time discussing the impact of the particular illness has on a patient’s life, shift their focus to the subjective, personal features of the illness and pay attention to the psychological and physical disturbances cause by the patient during the illness.
Illness as well as treatment for illnesses affect both the body and the mind of the patient “Thus, an interactive form of mind-body dualism is essential for the patient’s illness to be adequately treated (p. 567). ” To be able to treat the patient, a physician has to do it in a way that is a complete person. The physician cannot Just reat the body and not the mind, because the mind and body are both necessary for the complete wellness of the patient, and to properly treat them. An example of dualism, is for one premise that you have a special ways of knowing about your own mental states.
This knowledge is not usually based on any evidence or observation. You can Just tell that you’re thinking about something. You don’t have to infer it from any evidence. But other people do have to infer what you’re thinking, from your behavior and from what you say. So you’re in a better position to know what you’re thinking than they are. You have a kind of special or privileged access in which people can’t see ‘physically. You dont have any privileged access of that sort to your height or weight or shoe size. In principle, other people could be in a better position to know your height than you are.
Fortsmann at el argues the counter, he believes physicians need to have the mindset of a physicialsim. He states “Study 4 focused on a concrete health-related behavior, thereby moving beyond participants’ self-reports. Participants were again primed with either dualism or physicalism and, at the end of the experiment, were asked to select one of four books as compensation for articipation… We thus predicted that participants in the dualism condition would be more likely to choose one of the unhealthy cookbooks than would participants in the physicalism condition (p. 242-1243). Fortsmann argument is based upon the fact that mind and body do not interact, therefore he insists that the body and the mind cannot make good decision. But we have to reject his claim because of the lack of causation, there is no evidence to support his claim. The only he can state is that the people who choose to identify as dualist have a correlation to choose unhealthy ookbooks. He does not have empirical data which makes his sources unreliable; therefore, we cannot accept his studies.
Another argument that is made by him states “Manipulating dualism in four studies (1, 2, 4, and 5) with three different priming procedures, we provided consistent evidence for the notion that holding dualistic beliefs decreases the likelihood of engaging in healthy behavior (p. 1244). ” Despite the results of these five studies, there are serious problems with the methods employed in the study. One of the errors is that the process of priming and evaluating is faulty. All five studies intentionally used priming techniques that are not reliable.
The results may not have been affected by the beliefs of participants but the priming procedures employed in the study. Overall we can conclude that his studies are not consistent, therefore we can’t believe them. Medicine traditionally only focuses on the biomedical account of illness, treating the body as machine, and not acknowledging the mind. When they are separated, in the practice of medicine, it is difficult to completely treat patients to the full extent. In this paper, I argued that dualism should be used in the practice of medicine.
Physician should have the theory of property dualism, that the mind and body are two different units acting together. In order to best treat patients in medicine, dualism is essential for the best possible care. References Forstmann, Matthias, Pascal Burgmer, and Thomas Mussweiler. “”The Mind Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Weak”: The Effects of Mind-Body Dualism on Health Behavtor. “psychologtcal science 23. 10 (2012): 1239-245. 12 sept. 2012. web. 6 NOV. 2013. Switankowsky, Irene. “Dualism and Its Importance for Medicine. ” Theoretical Medicine 21 (2000): 567-80. print.