A Critique of the Mind-Brain Identity Theory

  • Paul Badham
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series


The Mind/Brain Identity Theory,1 otherwise known as Central State Materialism, is, I believe, the main challenger to any dualist theory of man. Unlike behaviourism or epiphenomenalism, the Identity theory takes seriously the view that mental states can be causally effective. The upholder of the Identity theory will agree with the Cartesian dualist in the view that to describe a man as intelligent is not simply to say that he is apt to turn in an intelligent performance, it is also to say that an inner structure or condition of the man is an indispensable immediate causal factor in producing the intelligent performance. ‘Intelligence’ names not the performance pattern but one part of its cause, the inner and therefore mental part. Both the Cartesian and the Identity theorist believe that mental acts such as choosing, deciding or purposing are causally effective; both believe that mental states such as anxiety, hope, confidence or despair do not just describe anxious, hopeful, confident or despairing behaviour, but actually bring about that behaviour. Further, both the Cartesian and Identity theorist can agree that our mental qualities — our capacities of memory, thought, imagination and will — may be the prime characteristics of our personal identity, largely determining our character dispositions and self-awareness.


Identity Theory Conscious Experience Religious Experience Mystical Experience Nobel Prize Winner 
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Copyright information

© Paul Badham 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Badham
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in TheologySt David’s University CollegeLampeter, WalesUK

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