Two Kinds of Mental Conflict in RepublicIV

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, School of Arts and Sciences, Iona College, New Rochelle, USA
  • | 2 Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Science, University of Missouri – Kansas City, Kansas City, USA
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Plato’s partition argument infers that the soul has parts from the fact that the soul experiences mental conflict. Alasdair MacIntyre poses a dilemma for the argument that highlights an ambiguity in the concept of mental conflict. According to the first sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires whose satisfaction conditions are logically incompatible. According to the second sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires which are logically incompatible even when they are unsatisfied. The dilemma is therefore this: if the mental conflict is supposed to be the latter kind of conflict, then the partition argument is valid but is likely unsound; if it’s supposed to be the former kind, then the partition argument has true premises but is invalid. We explain this dilemma in detail and defend a dispositionalist solution to it.

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