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Studia Neoaristotelica

Volume 13, Issue 1, 2016

A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism

Ľuboš Rojka
Pages 45-70

The Modal Argument for the Soul / Body Dualism

The modal argument for the existence of a Cartesian human soul proposed by Richard Swinburne more than thirty years ago, if slightly adjusted and interpreted correctly, becomes a plausible argument for anyone who accepts modal arguments. The difficulty consists in a relatively weak justification of the second premise, of the real possibility of a disembodied existence, as a result of which the argument does not provide a real (conclusive) proof. The argument is best understood in the following terms: (1) Special divine action is excluded from the metaphysical possibilities and only the natural possibilities are considered; (2) the “conceivable” possibility of the existence of a person without a body is interpreted as a metaphysical (real) possibility, and inductive support for its reality is provided by apparent first-person-conceivability of a disembodied existence, detailed descriptions of out-of-body and near-death experiences, a priori trust in introspection in psychology and the cognitive sciences, and by the unity of consciousness and the possibility of its extension to peripersonal space; (3) statements about having a soul or being a material substance are excluded from the domain of the premises; and finally, (4) one accepts the Kripkean principle that having a body or a soul is an essential component of a person. If these conditions are met, the argument is valid, and the conclusion is made more plausible by Swinburne’s modal argument than it would be without it. Argumentum modale pro animae humanae “Cartesianae” existentia, quod R. Swinburne ante plures quam 30 annos proposuit, acceptabile reddi potest cuicumque argumenta modalia non generatim respuenti, si paululum emendetur recteque intelligatur. Omnis huius argumenti diffi cultas consistit in iustifi catione debiliore secundae eius praemissae (possibilitatem realem existendi sine corpore statuentis), quo pacto argumentum ineffi cax redditur. Argumentum vero optime intelligetur his quattuor punctis animadversis: Primo, possibilitas metaphysica non nisi possibilitates naturales comprehendere intelligatur, omni speciali Dei ingerentia exclusa. Secundo, personae possibilitas “conceptibilis” sine corpore existendi intelligatur ut realis possibilitas metaphysica. Cui realitati argumenta favent inductiva tum ex possibilitate imaginandi (aspectu primae personae) existentiam sine corpore; tum ex minutatim enarratis testimoniis experiendi status “extra corpus” et “prope mortem”; tum ex fi de fundamentali veritatis introspectionis in psychologia scientiis que cognitivis; tum ex unitate conscientiae ac possibilitate eam in spatium extra corpus extendendi. Tertio, e praemissarum congerie assertiones excludantur quibus homo animam habere vel substantiam materialem esse assumeretur. Quarto, principium S. Kripkii accipiatur, scil. corporis vel animae habitum personae essentialem esse debere. His omnibus servatis argumentum Swinburnii validum evadit, conclusionem suam plus credibilem reddens quam secus esset.

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