My article “Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought” appears in the latest issue of the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Here is the abstract:
James Ross developed a simple and powerful argument for the immateriality of the intellect, an argument rooted in the Aristotelian-Scholastic tradition while drawing on ideas from analytic philosophers Saul Kripke, W. V. Quine, and Nelson Goodman. This paper provides a detailed exposition and defense of the argument, filling out aspects that Ross left sketchy. In particular, it elucidates the argument’s relationship to its Aristotelian-Scholastic and analytic antecedents, and to Kripke’s work especially; and it responds to objections or potential objections to be found in the work of contemporary writers like Peter Dillard, Robert Pasnau, Brian Leftow, and Paul Churchland.
The argument of Ross’s referred to is one he first put forward in his 1992 Journal of Philosophy article “Immaterial Aspects of Thought” and restated in his book Thought and World: The Hidden Necessities. The ideas of Kripke in question are those put forward in his book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. The objections from Dillard referred to are those he put forward in is recent ACPQ article “Two Unsuccessful Arguments for Immaterialism”; the relevant objection from Pasnau is the one developed in his Modern Schoolmanarticle “Aquinas and the Content Fallacy”; the objection from Leftow can be found in his article “Soul, Mind, and Brain” in the Koons and Bealer anthology The Waning of Materialism; and the ideas of Churchland in question are those put forward in his recent book Plato’s Camera.
I’ve discussed Ross’s argument before -- in Philosophy of Mind, Aquinas, and in various blog posts -- but this latest article constitutes by far the most detailed exposition and defense of it that I (or, to my knowledge, anyone else) has given. In addition to responding to the objections (or potential objections) presented by the authors cited, the article contains substantive discussions of the Scholastic distinction between concepts and phantasms, the distinction between formal signs and material signs, and some strengths and weaknesses of Kripke’s argument in WRPL.