A Review of Mind, Brain, and Free Will

Peter Schaefer reviews Richard Swinburne’s Mind, Brain, and Free Will. The review is detailed and explains exactly the concepts found in the book. An excerpt:

Swinburne begins the book by discussing various ways of describing things that happen in he world. As elsewhere in his works he does this by carving the world up into substances,
properties, and events. Substances are individual things (trees, rocks, bodies, and—if they exist—souls). Properties are traits or characteristics of substances. Events involve temporal descriptions of substances and their properties. For example, an event might be ‘Peter’s eyes turned red from lack of sleep on 05/29/2014 at 7 p.m.’. This involves substances (Peter, eyes), properties coming into being (turning red) at a certain time (7 p.m.). Swinburne thinks that if all substances, properties, and events are included in a description of the world, then that description is total—nothing is left unaccounted for. Swinburne also spends some time exploring the idea of informative rigid designators. A rigid designator for a substance (or property or event) is one which ‘pursues’ that substance (or property or event) throughout change. Thus ‘Richard Swinburne’ describes a specific British philosopher of religion before, during, and after his tenure as Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University. When informative rigid designators are used, Swinburne claims, we know what it means for a substance (or property or event) to be a given substance. We can then evaluate claims of identity-say, when a physicalist claims that a mental event just is a physical event (or property or substance). When such designators are used, we can ‘unpack’ sentences and claims about identity and evaluate meaningfully what things are logically possible or impossible.

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