Do You Only Have a Brain? On Thomas Nagel
One sympathizes with your concern that Nagel’s critique will be exploited by those who intend mischief. But if you want to guard against such mischief—or counter it—you’ll need to do a much better job showing where Nagel’s reasoning goes wrong. Take just one howler as an example: “approximately 1 percent of children born to women over 40 have Down syndrome. This fact is a perfectly adequate explanation of why a particular child has Down syndrome…“ Why does Bobby have Down? How on earth do you think that this statistic counts as an adequate answer to the question? The fact that it may be the best we can do just now doesn’t increase its “adequacy.” Surely we can do better. Indeed, recognition of the inadequacy of our present understanding of Down syndrome is at least one of the things that drive continuing research. Like I say: If you want to keep Nagel’s book—and its reasoning—from be exploited by mischief-makers, you’ll need to do a lot better, too.
Oct 24 2012 - 2:18pm