The Special Pleading of Mentality’s Strong Emergence

Humans are ultimately composed of elementary particles or fields. Every complex physical trait we have can be traced to primitive versions of this trait in these fields. Every physical thing we do is a form of movement. We can only perform these movements because the fields we are composed of have the ability to move.

These movements require energy. Our bodies have mechanisms to absorb and use energy to perform these movements. The same holds true with our elementary particles.

The ability to move our limbs doesn’t magically appear out of thin air at some point of development. It is instead directly traceable to each of our subsystems: cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles. There is not one physical attribute that is an exception to this rule. As such, complex physical phenomena are said to weakly emerge from the interactions of subsystems that possess simpler forms of these physical phenomena.

A rational person therefore would assume that this weak emergence rule would apply to our mental abilities too. That is, every complex mental phenomena we are capable of would have a simpler counterpart in each subsystem. This would mean though that the cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles that compose us would have simple forms of mentality too. That is, panpsychism is a reality.

The alternative to our subsystems possessing mentality involves the idea that mentality strongly emerges from physical sources that lack any mental capabilities. This odd scenario assumes that mentality is somehow inexplicably special. It is a unique case that applies only to mental capabilities but not physical properties. Yet no justification whatsoever has ever been presented for this special case. This is the very definition of special pleading.

Special pleading is a fallacy in which something is cited as an exception to a general or universal principle, without justifying the special exception. Those who oppose panpsychism necessarily must embrace the strong emergence of mentality. They dogmatically adhere to this irrational outlook with only the rudimentary logical fallacy of special pleading to justify it.

It is high time that all sane scholars reject the raving irrationality of mentality’s strong emergence and instead embrace the only rational alternative, panpsychism.

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