Arguments for materialism are few. Tyler Burge and others have maintained that the naturalistic picture of the world is more like a political or religious ideology than like a position well supported by evidence, and that materialism is an article of faith based on the worship of science.<4> That is an overstatement. But Ryle (to start with) gave no argument that I can recall for materialism per se; he only inveighed against the particularly Cartesian “dogma of the Ghost in the Machine.” Ullin Place, founder of the Identity Theory, gave none; he was originally a Behaviorist who bravely and honestly acknowledged that introspectible occurrent sensations were a problem for Behaviorism and, while making an exception for them, tried to account for them within the materialist framework, but without defending the need to do so.
J..J.C. Smart was perhaps the first to offer reasons. First, he appealed to the scientific view of the world:
[S]ensations, states of consciousness,…seem to be the one sort of thing left outside the physicalist picture, and for various reasons I just cannot believe that this can be so…. That everything should be explicable in terms of physics…except the occurrence of sensations seems to me frankly unbelievable….
The above is largely a confession of faith…. (pp. 142-43)
Just so, and just so. I too simply refuse to believe in spookstuff or surds in nature. But this argumentum ad recuso credere is no argument at all; it is at best, in David Lewis’ famous phrase, an incredulous stare.
William J. Lycan, Giving Dualism Its Due
Available here. I have omitted footnotes.