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4.5a. Nonreductive Materialism (Nonreductive Materialism on PhilPapers)

See also:
Antony, Louise M. (2007). Everybody has got it: A defense of non-reductive materialism. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell.   (Google)
Antony, Louise M. (1999). Making room for the mental. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):37-44.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Baker, Lynne Rudder, Nonreductive materialism I. introduction.   (Google)
Abstract: The expression ‘nonreductive materialism’ refers to a variety of positions whose roots lie in attempts to solve the mind-body problem. Proponents of nonreductive materialism hold that the mental is ontologically part of the material world; yet, mental properties are causally efficacious without being reducible to physical properties.s After setting out a minimal schema for nonreductive materialism (NRM) as an ontological position, I’ll canvass some classical arguments in favor of (NRM).1 Then, I’ll discuss the major challenge facing any construal of (NRM): the problem of mental causation, pressed by Jaegwon Kim. Finally, I’ll offer a new solution to the problem of mental causation
Baker, Lynne Rudder (2006). Review of Nancey Murphy, Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (8).   (Google)
Barrett, J. (1995). Causal relevance and nonreductive physicalism. Erkenntnis 42 (3):339-62.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   It has been argued that nonreductive physicalism leads to epiphenominalism about mental properties: the view that mental events cannot cause behavioral effects by virtue of their mental properties. Recently, attempts have been made to develop accounts of causal relevance for irreducible properties to show that mental properties need not be epiphenomenal. In this paper, I primarily discuss the account of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit. I show how it can be developed to meet several obvious objections and to capture our intuitive conception of degrees of causal relevance. However, I argue that the account requires large-scale miraculous coincidence for there to be causally relevant mental properties. I also argue that the same problem arises for two apparently very different accounts of causal relevance. I suggest that this result does not show that these accounts, on appropriate readings, are false. Therefore, I tentatively conclude that we have reason to believe that irreducible mental properties are causally irrelevant. Moreover, given that there is at leastprima facie evidence that mental properties can be causally relevant, my conclusion casts doubt on nonreductive physicalist theories of mental properties
Beckermann, Ansgar; Flohr, Hans & Kim, Jaegwon (1992). Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.   (Cited by 26 | Google)
Beckermann, Ansgar; Flohr, H. & Kim, Jaegwon (eds.) (1992). Emergence or Reduction?: Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism. W. De Gruyter.   (Google)
Beckermann, Ansgar (1992). Reductive and nonreductive physicalism. In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Bielfeldt, Dennis D. (1999). Nancey Murphy's nonreductive physicalism. Zygon 34 (4):619-628.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Boyd, Robert (1980). Materialism without reductionism: What physicalism does not entail. In Ned Block (ed.), Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology. , Vol 1.   (Cited by 43 | Annotation | Google)
Brigandt, Ingo (forthcoming). Beyond reduction and pluralism: Toward an epistemology of explanatory integration in biology. Erkenntnis.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The paper works towards an account of explanatory integration in biology, using as a case study explanations of the evolutionary origin of novelties-a problem requiring the integration of several biological fields and approaches. In contrast to the idea that fields studying lower level phenomena are always more fundamental in explanations, I argue that the particular combination of disciplines and theoretical approaches needed to address a complex biological problem and which among them is explanatorily more fundamental varies with the problem pursued. Solving a complex problem need not require theoretical unification or the stable synthesis of different biological fields, as items of knowledge from traditional disciplines can be related solely for the purposes of a specific problem. Apart from the development of genuine interfield theories, successful integration can be effected by smaller epistemic units (concepts, methods, explanations) being linked. Unification or integration is not an aim in itself, but needed for the aim of solving a particular scientific problem, where the problem's nature determines the kind of intellectual integration required
Clarke, Randolph (1999). Nonreductive physicalism and the causal powers of the mental. Erkenntnis 51 (2-3):295-322.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Nonreductive physicalism is currently one of the most widely held views about the world in general and about the status of the mental in particular. However, the view has recently faced a series of powerful criticisms from, among others, Jaegwon Kim. In several papers, Kim has argued that the nonreductivist's view of the mental is an unstable position, one harboring contradictions that push it either to reductivism or to eliminativism. The problems arise, Kim maintains, when we consider the causal powers that mental properties are held to carry on the nonreductivist's view and the causal transactions into which mental events are said to enter. My aim here is less than that of defending nonreductive physicalism against all of Kim's criticisms. I wish primarily to call into question the claim that nonreductive physicalism is committed to emergentism with respect to the causal powers of the mental. As subsidiary points, I shall offer a limited defense of nonreductivism against two related objections that Kim raises. However, even if my conclusions are correct, problems remain for the nonreductivist's treatment of mental causation. I shall close the paper with a brief discussion of these difficulties
Dupre, John (1988). Materialism, physicalism, and scientism. Philosophical Topics 16:31-56.   (Annotation | Google)
Earley, Joseph, How philosophy of mind needs philosophy of chemistry.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: By the 1960s many (perhaps most) philosophers had adopted ‘physicalism’ ─ the view that physical causes fully account for mental activities. However, controversy persists about what count as ‘physical causes’. ‘Reductive’ physicalists recognize only microphysical (elementary-particle-level) causality. Many (perhaps most) physicalists are ‘non-reductive’ ─ they hold that entities considered by other (‘special’) sciences have causal powers. Philosophy of chemistry can help resolve main issues in philosophy of mind in three ways: developing an extended mereology applicable to chemical combination, testing whether ‘singularities’ prevent reduction of chemistry to microphysics, and demonstrating ‘downward causation’ in complex networks of chemical reactions
Eckardt, BarbaraVon (1981). Review article. Margolis on persons and nonreductive materialism. Metaphilosophy 12 (2):169–180.   (Google | More links)
Ellis, Ralph D. (2000). Consciousness, self-organization, and the process-substratum relation: Rethinking nonreductive physicalism. Philosophical Psychology 13 (2):173-190.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Knowing only what is empirically knowable can't by itself entail knowledge of what consciousness "is like." But if dualism is to be avoided, the question arises: how can a process be completely empirically unobservable when all of its components are completely observable? The recently emerging theory of self-organization offers resources with which to resolve this problem: Consciousness can be an empirically unobservable process because the emotions motivating attention are experienced only from the perspective of the one whose phenomenal states are executed by the self-organizing processes which themselves constitute the consciousness. I argue that a self-organizing process can differ from the sum of its (empirically observable) substrata because, rather than just being realized by them, it actively rearranges the background conditions under which alternative component causal sequences can realize the self-organizing pattern into the future
Ellis, Ralph D. (1999). Why isn't consciousness empirically observable? Emotion, self-organization, and nonreductive physicalism. Journal of Mind and Behavior 20 (4):391-402.   (Google)
Elshof, Ten G. (1997). Supervenient difficulties with nonreductive physicalism: A critical analysis of supervenience physicalism. Kinesis 24 (1):3-22.   (Google)
Endicott, Ronald P. (2007). Nomic-Role Nonreductionism: Identifying Properties by Total Nomic Roles. Philosophical Topics 35 (1&2):217-240.   (Google)
Abstract: Inspired by recent theories of embodied cognition that emphasize matters of a mind's engineering realization, I introduce "nomic-role nonreductionism" as an alternative to traditional causal-role functionalism in the philosophy of mind. Rather than identify mental properties by a theory that describes their intra-level causal roles via types of inputs, internal states, and outputs, I suggest that one identify mental properties by a more comprehensive theory that also describes inter-level realization roles via types of lower-level engineering, internal mental states, and still higher-level states generated by them. I defend this position on grounds that mental properties should be understood by our best scientific theories, which at present include informatioin about mental engineering. I further defend this claim by a "parity of reasons" argument. Causal-role functionalists are justified to include sensory stimuli in their theory of mind as opposed to, say, the remote causes of sensory stimuli because the former but not the latter are items of direct mental production. But ditto for the system's physical realizations. They too directly produce mental states, only not by "causing" them but by "realizing" them. Engineering realizations and their input triggering conditions work in tandem. In addition, I tell a related but more general metaphysical story about property identity, namely, that the traditional causal theory should be replaced by a more comprehensive nomic theory that individuates properties by their intra-level causal powers as well as their inter-level realization capacities.
Fodor, Jerry A. (1974). Special sciences. Synthese 28:97-115.   (Cited by 437 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Francescotti, Robert M. (1998). The nonreductionist's troubles with supervenience. Philosophical Studies 89 (1):105-24.   (Google)
Gillett, Carl & Rives, Bradley (2001). Does the argument from realization generalize? Responses to Kim. Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):79-98.   (Cited by 10 | Google)
Abstract: By quantifying over properties we cannot create new properties any more than by quantifying over individuals we can create new individuals. Someone murdered Jones, and the murderer is either Smith or Jones or Wang. That “someone”, who murdered Jones, is not a person in addition to Smith, Jones, and Wang, and it would be absurd to posit a disjunctive person, Smith-or-Jones-or-Wang, with whom to identify the murderer. The same goes for second-order properties and their realizers. (Kim (1997a), p.201)
Gillett, Carl (2003). Nonreductive realization and nonreductive identity: What physicalism does not entail. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Healey, Richard A. (1978). Physicalist imperialism. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 79:191-211.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Horgan, Terence E. (1994). Nonreductive materialism. In Richard Warner & Tadeusz Szubka (eds.), The Mind-Body Problem: A Guide to the Current Debate. Blackwell.   (Cited by 9 | Google)
Horgan, Terence E. (1993). Nonreductive materialism and the explanatory autonomy of psychology. In Steven J. Wagner & Richard Warner (eds.), Naturalism: A Critical Appraisal. University of Notre Dame Press.   (Cited by 29 | Annotation | Google)
Hunter, David (2001). Mind-brain identity and the nature of states. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (3):366 – 376.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Johansson, Ingvar (2001). Hartmann's nonreductive materialism, superimposition, and supervenience. Axiomathes 12 (3-4).   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Karakus, Attila & Vieth, Andreas (2005). Is Rorty's non-reductive naturalism reductive? In Richard Rorty: His Philosophy Under Discussion. Verlag.   (Google)
Kernohan, Andrew (1988). Non-reductive materialism and the spectrum of mind-body identity theories. Dialogue 27:475-88.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google)
Kim, Jaegwon (1992). "Downward causation" in emergentism and nonreductive physicalism. In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.   (Cited by 34 | Google)
Kim, Jaegwon (1989). The myth of non-reductive materialism. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 63 (3):31-47.   (Cited by 122 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kim, Jaegwon (1992). The nonreductivist's trouble with mental causation. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.   (Annotation | Google)
Kirk, Robert E. (1996). How physicalists can avoid reductionism. Synthese 108 (2):157-70.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Kim maintains that a physicalist has only two genuine options, eliminativism and reductionism. But physicalists can reject both by using the Strict Implication thesis (SI). Discussing his arguments will help to show what useful work SI can do.(1) His discussion of anomalous monism depends on an unexamined assumption to the effect that SI is false
Kirk, Robert E. (2001). Nonreductive physicalism and strict implication. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (4):544-552.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Knowles, Jonathan (1999). Physicalism, teleology and the miraculous coincidence problem. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (195):164-81.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Lennon, Kathleen (1984). Anti-reductionist materialism. Inquiry 27 (December):363-380.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Loar, Brian (1992). Elimination versus nonreductive physicalism. In David Charles & Kathleen Lennon (eds.), Reduction, Explanation and Realism. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Mainwood, Paul (online). How is non-reductive physicalism possible.   (Google)
Marras, Ausonio (2007). Kim's supervenience argument and nonreductive physicalism. Erkenntnis 66 (3).   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to show that Kim’s ‚supervenience argument’ is at best inconclusive and so fails to provide an adequate challenge to nonreductive physicalism. I shall argue, first, that Kim’s argument rests on assumptions that the nonreductive physicalist is entitled to regard as question-begging; second, that even if those assumptions are granted, it is not clear that irreducible mental causes fail to␣satisfy them; and, third, that since the argument has the overall structure of a reductio, which of its various premises one performs the reductio on remains open to debate in an interesting way. I shall finally suggest that the issue of reductive vs. nonreductive physicalism is best contested not in the arena of mental causation but in that in which the issues pertaining to theory and property reduction are currently being debated
Markic, Olga (2002). Nonreductive materialism and the problem of causal exclusion. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):79-88.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper I examine nonreductive materialism (physicalism). This is a position that Terry Horgan favors in his papers and is probably the most widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind in recent decades. In contrast to this, I will argue that nonreductive materialism is an unstable position and will suggest that we can show this using Horgan's own work on the concept of superdupervenience
Marras, Ausonio (1994). Nonreductive materialism and mental causation. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (3):465-93.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Margolis, Joseph (1978). Persons and Minds: The Prospects of Non-Reductive Materialism. D.   (Cited by 16 | Google)
Marras, Ausonio (1993). Psychophysical supervenience and nonreductive materialism. Synthese 95 (2):275-304.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Jaegwon Kim and others have claimed that (strong) psychophysical supervenience entails the reducibility of mental properties to physical properties. I argue that this claim is unwarranted with respect to epistemic (explanatory) reducibility (either of a global or of a local sort), as well as with respect to ontological reducibility. I then attempt to show that a robust version of nonreductive materialism (which I call supervenient token-physicalism) can be defended against the charge that nonreductive materialism leads to epiphenomenalism in failing to account for the causal or explanatory relevance of mental properties
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 (1995). Two cheers for reductionism, or, the dim prospects for nonreductive materialism. Philosophy of Science 62 (3):370-88.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Melnyk, Andrew (1998). The prospects for Kirk's nonreductive physicalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (2):323-32.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
O'Connor, Timothy & Churchil, John Ross (2009). Nonreductive physicalism or emergent dualism : The argument from mental causation. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Papineau, David (1992). Irreducibility and teleology. In David Charles & Kathleen Lennon (eds.), Reduction, Explanation and Realism. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google)
Pereboom, Derk (2002). Robust nonreductive materialism. Journal of Philosophy 99 (10):499-531.   (Cited by 17 | Google | More links)
Pereboom, Derk & Kornblith, Hilary (1991). The metaphysics of irreducibility. Philosophical Studies 63 (August):125-45.   (Cited by 24 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: During the 'sixties and 'seventies, Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, and Richard Boyd, among others, developed a type of materialism that eschews reductionist claims.1 In this view, explana- tions, natural kinds, and properties in psychology do not reduce to counterparts in more basic sciences, such as neurophysiology or physics. Nevertheless, all token psychological entities-- states, processes, and faculties--are wholly constituted of physical entities, ultimately out of entities over which microphysics quantifies. This view quickly became the standard position in philosophy of mind, and reductionism fell out of favor. Recently, however, reductionism has been experiencing a rebirth, and many have suggested that the non-reductive approach was accepted too quickly and too uncritically. In this paper, we attempt to provide a more thorough account of the anti-reductionist position, and, in the process, to defend it against its recent critics
Pineda, David (2001). Functionalism and nonreductive physicalism. Theoria 16 (40):43-63.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Most philosophers of mind nowadays espouse two metaphysical views: Nonreductive Physicalism and the causal efficacy of the mental. Throughout this work I will refer to the conjunction of both claims as the Causal Autonomy of the Mental. Nevertheless, this position is threatened by a number of difficulties which are far more serious than one would imagine given the broad consensus that it has generated during the last decades. This paper purports to offer a careful examination of some of these difficulties and show the considerable efforts that one has to undertake in order to try to overcome them. The difficulties examined will concern only metaphysical problems common to all special science properties but not specific of mental properties. So, in proposing a functionalist version of Nonreductive Physicalism in what follows, I will not attempt to answer to well known objections such as the absent qualia argument and the like. This should not be interpreted as a limitation! in the scope of this work. On the contrary, in dealing with more general objections we will try to evaluate a position which entails (under common assumptions) the Causal Autonomy of the Mental, namely: Nonreductive Physicalism plus the causal efficacy of special science properties
Porpora, Douglas V. (1982). Nonreductive materialism and the materialisms of Marx and Heidegger. Human Studies 5 (1).   (Google)
Raymont, Paul (2003). Kim on closure, exclusion, and nonreductive physicalism. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic.   (Google)
Raymont, Paul (2003). Kim on overdetermination, exclusion, and nonreductive physicalism. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Robinson, Howard M. (2001). Davidson and nonreductive materialism: A tale of two cultures. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Google | More links)
Rosenberg, Alex (2005). How to reconcile physicalism and antireductionism about biology. Philosophy Of Science 72 (1):43-68.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Physicalism and antireductionism are the ruling orthodoxy in the philosophy of biology. But these two theses are difficult to reconcile. Merely embracing an epistemic antireductionism will not suffice, as both reductionists and antireductionists accept that given our cognitive interests and limitations, non-molecular explanations may not be improved, corrected or grounded in molecular ones. Moreover, antireductionists themselves view their claim as a metaphysical or ontological one about the existence of facts molecular biology cannot identify, express, or explain. However, this is tantamount to a rejection of physicalism and so causes the antireductionist discomfort. In this paper we argue that vindicating physicalism requires a physicalistic account of the principle of natural selection, and we provide such an account. The most important pay-off to the account is that it provides for the very sort of autonomy from the physical that antireductionists need without threatening their commitment to physicalism
Silvers, Stuart (1997). Nonreductive naturalism. Theoria 12 (28):163-84.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Nonreductive naturalism holds that we can preserve the (scientifically valued) metaphysical truth of physicalism while averting the methodological mistakes of reductionism. Acceptable scientificexplanation need not (in some cases cannot and in many cases, should not) be formulated in the language of physical science. Persuasive arguments about the properties of phenomenal consciousnesspurport to show that physicalism is false, namely that phenomenal experience is a nonphysical fact. I examine two recent, comprehensive efforts to naturalize phenomenal consciousness and argue thatnonreductive naturalism yields a dilemma of reductionism or panpsychism
Slors, Marc (2003). Epiphenomenalism and cross-realization induction. Grazer Philosophische Studien 65 (1):15-36.   (Google)
Abstract: In the first part of this paper I argue that epiphenomenalism does not pose a threat to nonreductive physicalism, if type-epiphenomenalism does not imply the redundancy of mental (or in general higher-level) typing of events and/or states. Furthermore, if justifiable induction over folk-psychological regularities is possible independently of the ways in which these regularities are realized, type-epiphenomenalism does not imply the redundancy ofmental typing. Inthe second part of this paper I explain how justifiable 'cross-realization induction' can be possible. This explanation does what none of the currently available ones can: combine the generally accepted ideas that (i) folk-psychology is a successful means of predicting, explaining, and understanding human behaviour and (ii) that mental states are multiply realized. Given these two steps, it is relatively safe to say that there is no epiphe-nomenalism-threat to nonreductive physicalism
Smith, A. D. (1993). Non-reductive physicalism? In Howard M. Robinson (ed.), Objections to Physicalism. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google)
Stephan, Achim (2001). How to lose the mind-body problem. Grazer Philosophische Studien 61:279-283.   (Google)
Ten Elshof, Gregg (1997). Supervenient difficulties with nonreductive materialism: A critical appraisal of supervenience-physicalism. Kinesis 24 (1):3-22.   (Google)
Trogdon, Kelly (2009). Physicalsim and sparse ontology. Philosophical Studies 143 (2):147-165.   (Google)
Abstract: A major stumbling block for non-reductive physicalism is Kim’s disjunctive property objection. In this paper I bring certain issues in sparse ontology to bear on the objection, in particular the theses of priority monism and priority pluralism. Priority pluralism (or something close to it, anyway) is a common ontological background assumption, so in the first part of the paper I consider whether the disjunctive property objection applies with equal force to non-reductive physicalism on the assumption that priority monism is instead true. I ultimately conclude that non-reductive physicalism still faces a comparable problem. In the second part, I argue, surprisingly enough, that what I call ‘fine-grained reductionism’, a particular version of which Kim proposes as an alternative to non-reductive physicalism, may work better in the monist framework than the pluralist one. I conclude that issues in sparse ontology, therefore, are more relevant to the debate about physicalism than one may have thought
van Gulick, Robert (2002). Nonreduction, consciousness and physical causation. Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11):41-49.   (Google)
van Gulick, Robert (1992). Nonreductive materialism and the nature of intertheoretical constraint. In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.   (Cited by 19 | Google)
Wacome, Donald H. (2004). Reductionism's demise: Cold comfort. Zygon 39 (2):321-337.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Walter, Sven (2006). Causal exclusion as an argument against non-reductive physicalism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (1-2):67-83.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Wedgwood, Ralph (2000). The price of non-reductive physicalism. Noûs 34 (3):400-421.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Williamson, Francis X. (1998). Autonomy, reduction and the artificiality of mental properties. South African Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):1-7.   (Google)
Wilson, Jessica M. (2009). Determination, realization and mental causation. Philosophical Studies 145 (1):149--169.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, ‘determination’) provides the key to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don’t causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can’t be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted
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., 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. (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 (2004). Review of Andrew Melnyk, A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (6).   (Google)