Summary and Info
As part of a solid and well thought through academic review, Murphy and Brown suggest that popularizations of recent developments in neuroscience and philosophy have begun to stimulate public discussion. However, they suggest that many popularizers are not only physicalists but also ardent reductionists. Essentially the main theme of their argument seems to be to counter the position that all physicalist accounts of the human condition need necessarily be reductive.
On this basis, they move toward the development of a theory that avoids the hangovers of Cartesian materialism and causal reductionism by viewing the human condition as part of a self directed, self causing system. They achieve this by drawing on the seminal work of leading thinkers likes Juarrero, Deacon, Ellis, Sperry, Van Gulick, Dennett and Damasio (to name but a few). Of central importance to Murphy and Brown's argument appear to be concepts like emergence, supervenience and downward causation, all of which enable the possibility of higher and lower ordering principles, interlevel causality and dynamic processes.
Even if you don't agree with the final conclusions or ultimate positions of these authors; the book is a brilliant resource for anyone wanting to understand more about current scientific and philisophical debates underpinning contemporary neuroscientific research. Highly recommended!
More About the Author
Nancey Murphy is an American philosopher and theologian who is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.
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