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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
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
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
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.
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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..
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.
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.