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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 26, Issue 5, 2009

Science and Human Nature

Richard Swinburne
Pages 501-513
DOI: 10.5840/faithphil200926551

Substance Dualism

Events are the instantiations of properties in substances at times. A full history of the world must include, as well as physical events, mental events (ones to which the substance involved has privileged access) and mental substances (ones to the existence of which the substance has privileged access), and, among the latter, pure mental substances (ones which do not include a physical substance as an essential part). Humans are pure mental substances. An argument for this is that it seems conceivable that I could exist without my body. An objection to this argument is that ‘I’ refers to my body, and so what seems conceivable is not metaphysically possible. My response to this objection is that ‘I’ is an informative designator and so necessarily we know to what it refers, and it does not refer to my body.

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