Many philosophers debate the question of mental causation. This is a standard objection to dualism and is often the focus of debate. In 2003, Descartes was confronted with this objection by Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. Other critics of the theory, such as Baum and Skinner, echoed it. But both of them avoided the real issue: how a mental event could cause a physical event.
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Several critics of mentalism argue that dualism conflates the mental with the physical, which makes them incomparable. But this is not the only problem with dualism. A good reason to reject dualism is that it fails to address the underlying problems of the theory. Some scientists are uncomfortable with this argument, arguing that the mental cannot be observed. For this reason, many scientists have rejected dualism.
The unobservability argument, for example, fails to disprove the validity of mentalism. While some people believe that the mind is not material, there is no evidence to support this claim. Even though the mind is internal and nonphysical, a mentalist can still believe that the mental has a causal effect on the external world. This attack is particularly problematic for a dualist because it conflates the mental with the nonphysical.
However, there is another major flaw in mentalism. It is difficult to distinguish the mind from the body, and in some cases, the mind is unable to express certain emotions. Therefore, we can never be free of our thoughts and beliefs. As long as we are aware of them, they are real. The material world has no mental content. In addition, we have an idea of how our bodies and minds operate.
The unobservability argument is ineffective against both positions of mentalism. Nevertheless, this argument does not suggest that mind is nonphysical, internal, or causal. In other words, it does not imply that mind is inexistent. Rather, it suggests that a purely material object is not able to experience mental experience. This is a very weak ground for belief. While a material object cannot be seen, a person can feel emotions.
In short, mentalism cannot be a dualistic view. Its claims of internal and nonphysical nature are incompatible with dualism. The argument from unobservability also implies that mind is not causal and is not nonphysical. Furthermore, if mind is internal, it would be material. In both cases, the mind has a causal relationship with the external world. The former does not admit the latter.
While the argument between mentalism and dualism is not conclusive, the dualism position is compatible with the latter. The former is not a reductive view of mind; it accepts that the mind has no material substance. It is not a reductive view of the world. It is the only view that is consistent with science. So, the dualism-mentalism debate is a linguistic one.