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Keywords:

  • dualism;
  • materialism;
  • mind;
  • mind/body;
  • person;
  • philosophy of mind;
  • psychobiology

Abstract. Persons have a curious dual nature. On the one hand, they are subjects, whose actions must be explained in terms of beliefs, desires, plans, and goals. At the same time, however, they also are physical objects, whose actions must be explicable in terms of physical laws. So far no satisfying account of this duality has been offered. Both Cartesian dualism and the modern materialist alternatives (reductionist and antireductionist) have failed to capture the full range of our experience of persons. I argue that an exciting new approach to this difficulty can be found by considering developments in clinical psychology. The clinical debate between those endorsing biological models of mental illness and those endorsing psychodynamic models mirrors broader debates in the philosophy of mind. The possible resolution of this debate through the development of integrated psychobiological models suggests a promising way to reconcile the dual nature of persons in a far more appealing way than any yet proposed.