Thomas W. Polger

Thomas Polger is Professor and Department Head in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.

  • The Natural Method

    The Natural Method

    Essays on Mind, Ethics, and Self in Honor of Owen Flanagan

    Eddy Nahmias, Thomas W. Polger, and Wenqing Zhao

    Prominent philosophers explore themes in the work of Owen Flanagan, focusing on debates about the nature of mind, the self, and morality.

    Owen Flanagan's work offers a model for how to be a naturalistic and scientifically informed philosopher who writes beautifully and deeply about topics as varied as consciousness and Buddhism, moral psychology and dreaming, identity and addiction, literature and neuroscience. In this volume, leading philosophers—Flanagan's friends, colleagues, and former students—explore themes in his work, focusing on debates over the nature of mind, the self, and morality. Some contributors address Flanagan's work directly; others are inspired by his work or methodology. Their essays are variously penetrating and synoptic, cautious and speculative.

    The contributors offer proposals for productive interdisciplinary research exploring consciousness, personhood, religious cognition, mental disorders, addiction, the narrative self, virtue, the social sciences, forgiveness, and comparative philosophy. The authors share a commitment to virtues exemplified in Flanagan's work—interdisciplinary inquiry, an optimistic temperament, and a willingness to change one's mind.

    Contributors

    Jack Bauer, Patricia S. Churchland, Peggy DesAutels, George Graham, Philip J. Ivanhoe, Alasdair MacIntyre, Robert N. McCauley, Eddy Nahmias, Thomas W. Polger, Galen Strawson, Şerife Tekin, Robert Van Gulick, David B. Wong, Wenqing Zhao

    • Hardcover $50.00
  • Natural Minds

    Natural Minds

    Thomas W. Polger

    In Natural Minds Thomas Polger advocates, and defends, the philosophical theory that mind equals brain—that sensations are brain processes—and in doing so brings the mind-brain identity theory back into the philosophical debate about consciousness. The version of identity theory that Polger advocates holds that conscious processes, events, states, or properties are type- identical to biological processes, events, states, or properties—a "tough-minded" account that maintains that minds are necessarily identical to brains, a position held by few current identity theorists. Polger's approach to what William James called the "great blooming buzzing confusion" of consciousness begins with the idea that we need to know more about brains in order to understand consciousness fully, but recognizes that biology alone cannot provide the entire explanation. Natural Minds takes on issues from philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and metaphysics, moving freely among them in its discussion.

    Polger begins by answering two major objections to identity theory—Hilary Putnam's argument from multiple realizability (which discounts identity theory because creatures with brains unlike ours could also have mental states) and Saul Kripke's modal argument against mind-brain identity (based on the apparent contingency of the identity statement). He then offers a detailed account of functionalism and functional realization, which offer the most serious obstacle to consideration of identity theory. Polger argues that identity theory can itself satisfy the kind of explanatory demands that are often believed to favor functionalism.

    • Hardcover $9.75
    • Paperback $35.00