Javascript Menu by
MindPapers is now part of PhilPapers: online research in philosophy, a new service with many more features.
 Compiled by David Chalmers (Editor) & David Bourget (Assistant Editor), Australian National University. Submit an entry.
click here for help on how to search

4.1a. Formulating Physicalism (Formulating Physicalism on PhilPapers)

See also:
Callaway, H. G. & Gochet, Paul (2007). Quine's Physicalism. In Filosofia, Scienza e Bioetica nel dibattito contemperano, Studi internazionali in onore di Evandro Agazzi, pp. 1105-1115.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper we briefly examine and evaluate Quine’s physicalism. On the supposition, in accordance with Quine’s views, that there can be no change of any sort without a physical change, we argue that this point leaves plenty of room to understand and accept a limited autonomy of the special sciences and of other domains of disciplinary and common-sense inquiry and discourse. The argument depends on distinguishing specific, detailed programs of reduction from the general Quinean strategy of reduction by explication. We argue that the details of the relations of particular sciences, disciplines and domains of discourse depend on empirical evidence and empirical-theoretical developments and that the generalized approach of reduction by explication is also subject to related empirical-theoretical constraints. So understood, physicalism lacks much of the controversial force and many of the implications sometimes associated with it.
Crane, Tim (1993). Reply to Pettit. Analysis 53 (4):224-27.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Crane, Tim (1991). All God has to do. Analysis 51 (October):235-44.   (Cited by 2 | Annotation | Google)
Crane, Tim & Mellor, D. H. (1990). There is no question of physicalism. Mind 99 (394):185-206.   (Cited by 96 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Crook, S. (2001). Why physics alone cannot define the 'physical': Materialism, metaphysics, and the formulation of physicalism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):333-360.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Daly, Chris (1995). Does physicalism need fixing? Analysis 55 (3):135-41.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Daly, Chris (1998). What are physical properties? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (3):196-217.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Dewey, John; Hook, Sidney & Nagel, Ernest (1945). Are naturalists materialists? Journal of Philosophy 42 (September):515-530.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Diaz-Leon, Esa (2008). We are living in a material world (and I am a material girl). Teorema 27 (3):85-101.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper I examine the question of whether the characterization of physicalism that is presupposed by some influential anti-physicalist arguments, namely, the so-called conceivability arguments, is a good characterization of physicalism or not. I compare this characterization with some alternative ones, showing how it can overcome some problems, and I defend it from several objections. I conclude that any arguments against physicalism characterised in that way are genuine arguments against physicalism, as intuitively conceived
Dowell, Janice (2006). Formulating the thesis of physicalism: An introduction. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):1-23.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Dowell, J. L. (2006). Formulating the thesis of physicalism. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):1-23.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Perhaps more controversial than whether physicalism is true is what exactly would have to be true for physicalism to be true. Everyone agrees that, intuitively at least, physicalism is the thesis that there is nothing over and above the physical. The disagreements arise in how to get beyond this intuitive formulation. Until about ten years ago, participants in this debate were concerned primarily with answering two questions. First, what is it for a property, kind, relation, or individual to be a physical one?
Dowell, Janice (2006). The physical: Empirical, not metaphysical. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):25-60.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 2. The Contingency and A posteriority Constraint: A formulation of the thesis must make physicalism come out contingent and a posteriori. First, physicalism is a contingent truth, if it is a truth. This means that physicalism could have been false, i.e. there are counterfactual worlds in which physicalism is false, for example, counterfactual worlds in which there are miracle-performing angels.[9] Moreover, if physicalism is true, our knowledge of its truth is a posteriori. This is to say that there are ways the world could turn out to be such that physicalism is false. For example, if there are miracle-performing angels, then physicalism is false. So there are worlds considered as actual in which physicalism is false.[10] For short, call this ‘the a posteriority constraint’.[11]
Earman, John (1975). What is physicalism? Journal of Philosophy 72 (October):565-567.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Francescotti, Robert M. (2000). Ontological physicalism and property pluralism: Why they are incompatible. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (4):349-362.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Göcke, Benedikt Paul (2009). What is physicalism? Ratio 22 (3):291-307.   (Google)
Abstract: Although 'most contemporary analytic philosophers [endorse] a physicalist picture of the world' (A. Newen; V. Hoffmann; M. Esfeld, 'Preface to Mental Causation, Externalism and Self-Knowledge', Erkenntnis , 67 (2007), p. 147), it is unclear what exactly the physicalist thesis states. The response that physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical does not solve the problem but is a precise statement of the problem because 'the claim is hopelessly vague' (G. Hellman; F. Thompson, 'Physicalism: Ontology, Determination, and Reduction', Journal of Philosophy , 72 (1975), p. 552). I argue that physicalism in fact should be the thesis that every existing particular essentially exemplifies properties the exemplification of which does not conceptually entail the existence of conscious beings. Physicalism thus is a purely philosophical thesis with no intrinsic relation to physics. 1
Gillett, Carl & Witmer, D. Gene (2001). A "physical" need: Physicalism and the via negativa. Analysis 61 (272):302–309.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Gillett, Carl (2001). The methodological role of physicalism: A minimal skepticism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1999). Procrustes probably: Comments on Sober's "physicalism from a probabilistic point of view". Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):175-181.   (Google)
Hawthorne, John (2002). Blocking definitions of materialism. Philosophical Studies 110 (2):103-13.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   It is often thought that materialism about themind can be clarified using the concept of supervenience. But there is a difficulty. Amaterialist should admit the possibility ofghosts and thus should allow that a world mightduplicate the physical character of our worldand enjoy, in addition, immaterial beings withmental properties. So materialists can't claimthat every world that is physicallyindistinguishable from our world is alsomentally indistinguishable; and this is wellknown. What is less understood are thedifferent ways that immaterial add-ons can maketrouble for supervenience-theoreticformulations of materialism. In this paper, Ishall present a problematic kind of add-on thathas been ignored and look at threesupervenience-theoretic attempts to formulatematerialism in that light
Horgan, Terence E. (2006). Materialism: Matters of definition, defense, and deconstruction. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):157-83.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: How should the metaphysical hypothesis of materialism be formulated? What strategies look promising for defending this hypothesis? How good are the prospects for its successful defense, especially in light of the infamous “hard problem” of phenomenal consciousness? I will say something about each of these questions
House Vaden, D. & McDonald, Marvin J. (1992). Post-physicalism and beyond. Dialogue 31 (4):593-621.   (Google)
Jackson, Frank (2006). On ensuring that physicalism is not a dual attribute theory in sheep's clothing. Philsophical Studies 131 (1):227-249.   (Google)
Abstract: Physicalists are committed to the determination without remainder of the psychological by the physical, but are they committed to this determination being a priori? This paper distinguishes this question understood de dicto from this question understood de re, argues that understood de re the answer is yes in a way that leaves open the answer to the question understood de dicto
Judisch, Neal (2008). Why 'non-mental' won't work: On Hempel's dilemma and the characterization of the 'physical'. Philosophical Studies 140 (3).   (Google)
Abstract:  Recent discussions of physicalism have focused on the question how the physical ought to be characterized. Many have argued that any characterization of the physical should include the stipulation that the physical is non-mental, and others have claimed that a systematic substitution of ‘non-mental’ for ‘physical’ is all that is needed for philosophical purposes. I argue here that both claims are incorrect: substituting ‘non-mental’ for ‘physical’ in the causal argument for physicalism does not deliver the physicalist conclusion, and the specification that the physical is non-mental is irrelevant to the task of formulating physicalism as a substantive, controversial thesis
Kirk, Robert E. (1979). From physical explicability to full-blooded materialism. Philosophical Quarterly 29 (July):229-37.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kirk, Robert E. (2006). Physicalism and strict implication. Synthese 151 (3):523-536.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Suppose P is the conjunction of all truths statable in the austere vocabulary of an ideal physics. Then phsicalists are likely to accept that any truths not included in P are different ways of talking about the reality specified by P. This ‘redescription thesis’ can be made clearer by means of the ‘strict implication thesis’, according to which inconsistency or incoherence are involved in denying the implication from P to interesting truths not included in it, such as truths about phenomenal consciousness. Commitment to the strict implication thesis cannot be escaped by appeal to a posteriori necessary identities or entailments. A minimal physicalism formulated in terms of strict implication is preferable to one based on a priori entailment
Kirk, Robert E. (1982). Physicalism, identity, and strict implication. Ratio 24 (December):131-41.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google)
Kirk, Robert E. (1996). Physicalism lives. Ratio 9 (1):85-89.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google)
Latham, Noa (2001). Substance physicalism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Latham, Noa (2003). What is token physicalism? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (3):270-290.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The distinction between token and type physicalism is a familiar feature of discussion of psychophysical relations. Token physicalism, or ontological physicalism, is the view that every token, or particular, in the spatiotemporal world is a physical particular. It is contrasted with type physicalism, or property physicalism -- the view that every first-order type, or property, instantiated in the spatiotemporal world is a physical property. Token physicalism is commonly viewed as a clear thesis, strictly weaker than property physicalism, strictly stronger than substance physicalism, and as a good statement on its own or in conjunction with other theses of minimal physicalism.[i] It is also generally simply assumed to be true, though Davidson has offered a famous argument for its truth, and some have argued against it. Many of those arguing against it are substance physicalists, indicating that they believe token physicalism to be a strictly stronger view.[ii]
Levine, Joseph & Trogdon, Kelly (2009). The modal status of materialism. Philosophical Studies 145 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: Materialism, as traditionally conceived, has a contingent side and a necessary side. The necessity of materialism is reflected by the metaphysics of realization, while its contingency is a matter of accepting the possibility of Cartesian worlds, worlds in which our minds are roughly as Descartes describes them. In this paper we argue that the necessity and the contingency of materialism are in conflict. In particular, we claim that if mental properties are realized by physical properties in the actual world, Cartesian worlds are impossible
Melnyk, Andrew (2003). A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 43 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A Physicalist Manifesto is the fullest treatment yet of the comprehensive physicalist view that, in some important sense, everything is physical. Andrew Melnyk argues that the view is best formulated by appeal to a carefully worked-out notion of realization, rather than supervenience; that, so formulated, physicalism must be importantly reductionist; that it need not repudiate causal and explanatory claims framed in non-physical language; and that it has the a posteriori epistemic status of a broad-scope scientific hypothesis. Two concluding chapters argue in unprecedented detail that contemporary science provides no significant empirical evidence against physicalism and some considerable evidence for it. Written in a brisk, candid, and exceptionally clear style, this book should appeal to professionals and students in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of science
Melnyk, Andrew (2008). Can physicalism be non-reductive? Philosophy Compass 3 (6):1281-1296.   (Google)
Abstract: Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductive physicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductive physicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better
Melnyk, Andrew (1996). Formulating physicalism: Two suggestions. Synthese 105 (3):381-407.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Two ways are considered of formulating a version of retentive physicalism, the view that in some important sense everything is physical, even though there do exist properties, e.g. higher-level scientific ones, which cannot be type-identified with physical properties. The first way makes use of disjunction, but is rejected on the grounds that the results yield claims that are either false or insufficiently materialist. The second way, realisation physicalism, appeals to the correlative notions of a functional property and its realisation, and states, roughly, that any actual property whatsoever is either itself a physical property or else is, ultimately, realised by instances of physical properties. Realisation physicalism is distinctive since it makes no claims of identity whatsoever, and involves no appeal to the dubious concept of supervenience. After an attempt to formulate realisation physicalism more precisely, I explore a way in which, in principle, we could obtain evidence of its truth
Melnyk, Andrew (1997). How to keep the 'physical' in physicalism. Journal of Philosophy 94 (12):622-637.   (Cited by 20 | Google | More links)
Melzer, Heinrich & Schachter, Josef (1985). On physicalism. Synthese 64 (September):359-374.   (Google | More links)
Melnyk, Andrew (2006). Realization and the formulation of physicalism. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):127-55.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Twenty years ago, Richard Boyd suggested that physicalism could be formulated by appeal to a notion of realization, with no appeal to the identity of the non-physical with the physical. In (Melnyk 2003), I developed this suggestion at length, on the basis of one particular account of realization. I now ask what happens if you try to formulate physicalism on the basis of other accounts of realization, accounts due to LePore and Loewer and to Shoemaker. Having explored two new formulations of physicalism, I conclude that my 2003 formulation remains the most promising
Montero, Barbara (2001). Post-physicalism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (2):61-80.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Montero, Barbara (2006). Physicalism in an infinitely decomposable world. Erkentnis 64 (2):177-191.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Might the world be structured, as Leibniz thought, so that every part of matter is divided ad infinitum? The Physicist David Bohm accepted infinitely decomposable matter, and even Steven Weinberg, a staunch supporter of the idea that science is converging on a final theory, admits the possibility of an endless chain of ever more fundamental theories. However, if there is no fundamental level, physicalism, thought of as the view that everything is determined by fundamental phenomena and that all fundamental phenomena are physical, turns out false, for in such a world, there are no fundamental phenomena, and so fundamental phenomena determine nothing. While some take physicalism necessarily to posit a fundamental level, here I present a thesis of physicalism that allows for its truth even in an infinitely decomposable world
Montero, Barbara (1999). The body problem. Noûs 33 (2):183-200.   (Cited by 27 | Google | More links)
Montero, Barbara (2005). What is the physical? In Ansgar Beckermann & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Nagel, Ernest (1949). Are naturalists materialists? Journal of Philosophy 46:515-53.   (Google)
Nathan, N. M. L. (1996). Weak materialism. In Objections to Physicalism. New York: Clarendon Press.   (Google)
Ney, Alyssa (2008). Defining physicalism. Philosophy Compass 3 (5):1033-1048.   (Google)
Abstract: This article discusses recent disagreements over the correct formulation of physicalism. Although there appears to be a consensus outside those who discuss the issue that physicalists believe that what exists is what is countenanced by physics, as we will see, this orthodoxy faces an important puzzle now frequently referred to as 'Hempel's Dilemma'. After surveying the historical trajectory from Enlightenment-era materialism to contemporary physicalism, I examine several mainstream approaches that respond to Hempel's dilemma, and the benefits and drawbacks of each
Ney, Alyssa (2008). Physicalism as an attitude. Philosophical Studies 138 (1).   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: It is widely noted that physicalism, taken as the doctrine that the world contains just what physics says it contains, faces a dilemma which, some like Tim Crane and D.H. Mellor have argued, shows that “physicalism is the wrong answer to an essentially trivial question”. I argue that both problematic horns of this dilemma drop out if one takes physicalism not to be a doctrine of the kind that might be true, false, or trivial, but instead an attitude or oath one takes to formulate one’s ontology solely according to the current posits of physics
Nimtz, Christian & Schutte, M. (2003). On physicalism, physical properties, and panpsychism. Dialectica 57 (4):413-22.   (Google | More links)
Noordhof, Paul (2003). Not old... But not that new either: Explicability, emergence, and the characterisation of materialism. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Oliver, W. Donald (1949). Can naturalism be materialistic? Journal of Philosophy 46 (September):608-614.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Papineau, David & Huttemann, A. (2005). Physicalism decomposed. Analysis 65 (285):33-39.   (Google)
Pettit, Philip (1993). A definition of physicalism. Analysis 53 (4):213-23.   (Cited by 25 | Annotation | Google)
Pettit, Philip (2009). Consciousness and the Frustrations of Physicalism. In Ian Ravenscroft (ed.), Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes from the Philosophy of Frank Jackson. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Pettit, Philip (1995). Microphysicalism, dottism, and reduction. Analysis 55 (3):141-46.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Pettit, Philip (1994). Microphysicalism without contingent micro-macro laws. Analysis 54 (4):253-57.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Pineda, David (2006). A mereological characterization of physicalism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):243 – 266.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Physicalism is usually understood as the claim that every empirical entity is or is determined by physical entities. The claim is however imprecise until it is clarified what are the physical entities in question. A sceptical argument in the form of a dilemma tries to show that this problem of formulation of physicalism cannot be adequately met. If we understand physical entities as the entities introduced by current physics, the resulting claim becomes most probably false. If we instead understand physical entities as those entities introduced by some future ideal physics, the claim then becomes indeterminate in content. Both horns seem equally bad. In the first part of the paper, I survey the strengths and weaknesses of different proposed solutions to this problem of formulation. In the second part, I lay out a new formulation of physicalism, partly based on a mereological principle, which overcomes the dilemma, and argue that it is a correct formulation of physicalism to the extent that it rules out clear antiphysicalist scenarios and is compatible with clear physicalist scenarios
Ravenscroft, Ian (1997). Physical properties. Southern Journal Of Philosophy 35 (3):419-431.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Ruja, Harry (1957). Are naturalists materialists? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 17 (June):555-557.   (Google | More links)
Schroer, Robert (forthcoming). How Far Can the Physical Sciences Reach? American Philosophical Quarterlly.   (Google)
Abstract: : It is widely thought that dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties; specifying the nature of this dependency, however, has proven a difficult task. The dependency of dispositional properties upon categorical properties also presents a challenge to the thesis of Physicalism: If the physical sciences only tell us about the dispositional properties of the objects they study and if dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties, then it appears that there will be kind of property—categorical properties—that will escape description by the physical sciences. This paper argues that a new theory of dispositional and categorical properties, a theory put forth by C.B. Martin and John Heil, solves both of these problems: It presents a way of understanding the sense in which dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties that has major advantages over more popular accounts of this dependency and it also provides a new and interesting Physicalist response to the challenge presented by categorical properties.
Schroder, Jurgen (2006). Physicalism and strict implication. Synthese 151 (3):537-545.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to determine the plausibility of Robert Kirk’s strict implication thesis as an explication of physicalism and its relation to Jackson and Chalmer’s notion of application conditionals, to the notion of global supervenience and to a posteriori identities. It is argued that the strict implication thesis is subject to the same objection that affects the notion of global supervenience. Furthermore, reference to an idealised physics in the formulation of strict implication threatens to make the thesis vacuous. Third, Kirk’s claim that the strict implication thesis does not entail reduction of the mental to the physical (excluding phenomenal properties) is untenable if a functional model of reduction is preferred over Nagel’s classical model. Finally, Kirk’s claim that the physical facts entail in an a priori way the fact that certain brain states feel somehow seems to be unfounded
Seager, William (ms). Concessionary dualism and physicalism.   (Google)
Sheldon, W. H. (1946). Are naturalists materialists? Journal of Philosophy 43 (April):197-209.   (Google | More links)
Smart, J. J. C. (1978). The content of physicalism. Philosophical Quarterly 28 (October):339-41.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Snowdon, Paul F. (1989). On formulating materialism and dualism. In John Heil (ed.), Cause, Mind, and Reality: Essays Honoring C. B. Martin. Kluwer.   (Cited by 7 | Annotation | Google)
Sober, Elliott (1999). Physicalism from a probabilistic point of view. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):135-74.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Spurrett, David (2001). What physical properties are. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (2):201-225.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Stoljar, Daniel (2009). Response to Alter and Bennett. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):775-784.   (Google)
Wilson, Jessica M. (1999). How superduper does a physicalist supervenience need to be? Philosophical Quarterly 50 (194):33-52.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The standard formulations of the supervenience relation present the supervenience of one set of properties on another in terms of property correlations, without placing any constraints on the dependency relation concerned. As Horgan notes, this does not ensure that properties supervening upon physicalistically acceptable base properties are not themselves emergent in a way at odds with materialism; hence he concludes that what physicalism needs is "superdupervenience" -- supervenience plus robust ontological explanation of the supervenient in terms of the base properties. I argue that, where supervenient and base properties are instanced in the same individuals, Horgan's requirement of robust explanation is neither sufficient nor necessary for superdupervenience. In particular, his paradigm case is compatible with the supervenient property's being emergent. This and other unacceptable possibilities may be ruled out by means of a metaphysical constraint on the supervenience relation: each individual causal power in the set associated with a given supervenient property must be numerically identical with a causal power in the set associated with its base property. Satisfying this condition is all that is needed to render supervenience superduper. I go on to show that a wide variety of physicalist accounts, both reductive and non-reductive, are implicitly or explicitly designed to meet this condition, and so are more similar than they seem
Wilson, Jessica M. (ms). Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong.   (Google)
Abstract: Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reflecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Luckily for philosophical purposes, however, much of this apparent diversity is superficial---or so I argue in this paper. I start by considering a notorious problematic associated with special science entities---namely, the problem of higher-level causation (a generalization of the problem of mental causation). As we will see, of the various strategies for addressing this problem there are two which plausibly accommodate both the dependence and the ontological and causal autonomy of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence, which I call 'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. The two schema are similar in that each imposes a (different, specific) condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent, relative to the powers of their dependence base entities. (Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically almost entirely neutral, primarily reflecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may---perhaps only contingently---bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features.) But the conditions, and accounts, are also crucially different; in particular, one is compatible with physicalism, while the other is not. I go on to consider the main accounts of emergent dependence and emergent autonomy, showing how, properly understood and (in some cases) diambiguated, these aim to instantiate one or the other schema.
Wilson, Jessica M., Non-reductive physicalism and degrees of freedom.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Some claim that NRP is an unstable position, either collapsing into reductive physicalism (so denying Non-reduction) or expanding into emergentism of a robust or “strong” variety (so denying Physicalism).2 I argue here that this claim is unfounded. NRP occupies a viable middle ground between reductive physicalism and robust emergentism, according to which some phenomena are (as I will sometimes put it) ‘weakly..
Wilson, Jessica M. (ms). Non-reductive Realization and the Powers-based Subset Strategy.   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers'. In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. Accounts of non-reductive realization conforming to this condition are implementing what I call 'the powers-based subset strategy'. I focus on the crucial case involving mental and brain states; the results may be generalized, as appropriate. I first situate and motivate the strategy by attention to the problem of mental causation; I make the case, in schematic terms, that implementation of the strategy makes room (contra Kim 1989, 1993, 1998, and elsewhere) for mental states to be ontologically and causally autonomous from their realizing physical states, without inducing problematic causal overdetermination, and compatible with both Physicalism and Non-reduction; and I show that several contemporary accounts of non-reductive realization (in terms of functional realization, parthood, and the determinable/determinate relation) are plausibly seen as implementing the strategy. As I also show, implementation of the powers-based strategy does not require endorsement of any particular accounts of either properties or causation---indeed, a categoricalist contingentist Humean can implement the strategy. The schematic location of the strategy in the space of available responses to the problem of mental (more generally, higher-level) causation, as well as the fact that the schema may be metaphysically instantiated, strongly suggests that the strategy is, appropriately generalized and instantiated, sufficient and moreover necessary for non-reductive realization. I go on to defend the sufficiency and necessity claims against a variety of objections, considering, along the way, how the powers-based subset strategy fares against competing accounts of purportedly non-reductive realization in terms of supervenience, token identity, and constitution.
Wilson, Jessica M. (2006). On characterizing the physical. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):61-99.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: How should physical entities be characterized? Physicalists, who have most to do with the notion, usually characterize the physical by reference to two components: 1. The physical entities are the entities treated by fundamental physics with the proviso that 2. Physical entities are not fundamentally mental (that is, do not individually possess or bestow mentality) Here I explore the extent to which the appeals to fundamental physics and to the NFM (“no fundamental mentality”) constraint are appropriate for characterizing the physical, especially for purposes of formulating physicalism. Ultimately, I motivate and defend a version of an account incorporating both components: The physics-based NFM account: An entity existing at a world w is physical iff (i) it is treated, approximately accurately, by current or future (in the limit of inquiry, ideal) versions of fundamental physics at w, and (ii) it is not fundamentally mental (that is, does not individually either possess or bestow mentality)
Wilson, Jessica M. (2005). Supervenience-based formulations of physicalism. Noûs 39 (3):426-459.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The many and varied formulations of physicalism instantiate the following schema: Physicalism: All entities are nothing over and above physical entities. Supervenience-based accounts of “nothing over and aboveness” also instantiate a schema: Supervenience-based Nothing Over and Aboveness: The A-entities are nothing over and above the B-entities if the A-entities supervene on the B-entities. The four main approaches to filling in the latter schema correspond to different ways of characterizing the modal strength, the supervenience base, or the supervenience connection at issue. I consider each approach in turn, and argue that a physicalism based on the associated account of nothing over and aboveness is compatible with physicalism’s best traditional rival: a naturalist emergentism. Others have argued that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism fail. My aim here, besides addressing the full spectrum of supervenience-based approaches, is to show how certain philosophical and scientific theses concerning naturalism, properties, and laws give us new reasons to think that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism are untenable.
Witmer, D. Gene (2001). Sufficiency claims and physicalism: A formulation. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Worley, Sara (2006). Physicalism and the via negativa. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):101-26.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Some philosophers have suggested that, instead of attempting to arrive at a satisfactory definition of the physical, we should adopt the ‘via negativa.’ That is, we should take the notion of the mental as fundamental, and define the physical in contrast, as the non-mental. I defend a variant of this approach, based on some information about how children form concepts. I suggest we are hard-wired to form a concept of intentional agency from a very young age, and so there’s some reason to believe that our concept of the physical does include, as part of its content, a contrast with the mental
Yarvin, Herb (1978). Criteria of the physical. Metaphilosophy 9 (April):122-132.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)