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Abstract: The causal argument for physicalism is anayzed and it's key premise--the causal closure of physics--is found wanting. Therefore, a hidden premise must be added to the argument to gain its conclusion, but the hidden premise is indistinguishable from the conclusion of the causal argument. Therefore, it begs the question on physicalism
Abstract: In this paper I want to discuss the way in which physical science has come to claim a particular kind of hegemony over other subjects in the second half of this century. This claim to hegemony is generally known by the name of "physicalism". In this paper I shall try to understand why this doctrine has come to prominence in recent decades. By placing this doctrine in a historical context, we will be better able to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses
Abstract: A consideration of the benefits of taking physicalism to be necessarily true if true, against the standard view that physicalism is at best contingently true. Presented at the 2006 Central Division meeting of the APA, in the session Themes from Jaegwon Kim, sponsored by the Society for Asian and Asian-American Philosophy
Abstract: The importance of the exclusion argument for contemporary physicalism is emphasized. The recent attempts to vindicate reductive physicalism by invoking certain needed revisions to the Nagelian model of reduction are then discussed. It is argued that such revised views of reduction offer in fact much less help to reductive physicalism than is sometimes supposed, and that many of these views lead to trouble when combined with the exclusion argument
Abstract: In common with other forms of nonreductive materialism, emergent materialism of this sort is accused of trying to have its cake and eat it. Ontological physicalism, it is said, necessarily implies reductionism which rules out the idea that there are irreducible emergent mental properties and laws. For according to such physicalism, everything is composed of physical constituents whose behaviour is governed by the laws of physics and mechanics. It follows that, in theory at least, every particular mental process is describable and explainable in purely physical terms, without recourse to mental descriptions. Description in terms of emergent properties and laws seems superfluous. Nothing save the complexity of the task prevents us from describing and explaining everything that exists or happens in purely physical terms
Abstract: The present work is focussed on the completeness of physics, or what is here called the Completeness Thesis: the claim that the domain of the physical is causally closed. Two major questions are tackled: How best is the Completeness Thesis to be formulated? What can be said in defence of the Completeness Thesis? My principal conclusions are that the Completeness Thesis can be coherently formulated, and that the evidence in favour if it significantly outweighs that against it. In opposition to those who argue that formulation is impossible because no account of what is to count as physical can be provided, I argue that as long as the purpose of the argument in which the account is to be used are borne in mind there are no significant difficulties. The account of the physical which I develop holds as physical whatever is needed to fix the likelihood of pre-theoretically given physical effects, and hypothesises in addition that no chemical, biological or psychological factors will be needed in this way. The thus formulated Completeness Thesis is coherent, and has significant empirical content. In opposition to those who defend the doctrine of emergentism by means of philosophical arguments I contend that those arguments are flawed, setting up misleading dichotomies between needlessly attenuated alternatives and assuming the truth of what is to be proved. Against those who defend emergentism by appeal to the evidence, I argue that the history of science since the nineteenth century shows clearly that the empirical credentials of the view that the world is causally closed at the level of a small number of purely physical forces and types of energy is stronger than ever, and the credentials of emergentism correspondingly weaker. In opposition to those who argue that difficulties with reductionism point to the implausibility of the Completeness Thesis I argue that completeness in no way entails the kinds of reductionism which give rise to the difficulties in question. I argue further that the truth of the Completeness Thesis is in fact compatible with a great deal of taxonomic disorder and the impossibility of any general reduction of non-fundamental descriptions to fundamental ones. In opposition to those who argue that the epistemological credentials of fundamental physical laws are poor, and that those laws should in fact be seen as false, I contend that truth preserving accounts of fundamental laws can be developed. Developing such an account, I test it by considering cases of the composition of forces and causes, where what takes place is different to what is predicted by reference to any single law, and argue that viewing laws as tendencies allows their truth to be preserved, and sense to be made of both the experimental discovery of laws, and the fact that composition enables accurate prediction in at least some cases
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)
Abstract: Perry, in this lucid, deep, and entertaining book (based on his 1999 Jean Nicod lectures), supposes that type-identity physicalism is antecedently plausible, and that rejecting this thesis requires good reason (this is