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Summary Physicalism about the mind is the metaphysical view that all mental phenomena are ultimately physical phenomena, or necessitated by physical phenomena. There are various mental-physical relations proposed by physicalists to account for their claim. One relation is identity. Identity based physicalism about the mind takes two forms: token physicalism (which asserts that all token mental states are identical to a physical or neural state), and type physicalism (according to which all types of mental states are identical to types of physical or neural states). Another proposed relation is supervenience. Supervenience based physicalism about the mind is a form of type physicalism and it takes two main forms: a priori physicalism (the view that mental truths are a priori deducible from the totality of physical truths) and a posteriori physicalism (the view that mental truths are a posteriori or empirically necessitated by the totality of physical truths).
Key works Identity based physicalism was first proposed by Place 1956, Feigl 1958, and Smart 1959. Token identity based physicalism is taken to originate with Davidson 1963. Explicitly type identity based physicalist approaches are to be found in Lewis 1970 and in Armstrong 1968. An account of the distinction between a priori and a posteriori supervenience based physicalism is given in Chalmers 1996 and in Stoljar 2000. Particular a priori physicalist approaches are to be found in Dennett 1991Dretske 1995Lewis 1990Rey 1995. Particular a posteriroi physicalist approaches appear in Loar 1990Papineau 1993Tye 1995Hill 1997Balog 1999Block & Stalnaker 1999Balog 2012.
Introductions Stoljar 2001
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  1. David Barnett (2010). You Are Simple. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism. Oxford University Press. 161--174.
    I argue that, unlike your brain, you are not composed of other things: you are simple. My argument centers on what I take to be an uncontroversial datum: for any pair of conscious beings, it is impossible for the pair itself to be conscious. Consider, for instance, the pair comprising you and me. You might pinch your arm and feel a pain. I might simultaneously pinch my arm and feel a qualitatively identical pain. But the pair we form would not (...)
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  2. Tyler Burge (2009). Modest Dualism. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
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  3. Tim Crane (1995). Against Physicalism. In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. 479-484.
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  4. Tim Crane & D. H. Mellor (1995). Postscript to There is No Question of Physicalism. In P. Moser & J. D. Trout (eds.), Contemporary Materialism: a Reader. Routledge. 85-89.
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  5. Terry Horgan (2009). Materialism, Minimal Emergentism, and the Hard Problem of Consciousness. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
  6. Robert C. Koons (2009). Epistemological Objections to Materialism. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press. 281--306.
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  7. E. J. Lowe (2009). Substance Dualism : A Non-Cartesian Approach. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
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  8. Uwe Meixner (2009). Materialism Does Not Save the Phenomena and the Alternative Which Does. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
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  9. Henry Stapp, Physicalism Versus Quantum Mechanics.
    In the context of theories of the connection between mind and brain, physicalism is the demand that all is basically purely physical. But the conception of “physical” embodied in this demand is characterized essentially by the properties of the physical that hold in classical physical theories. Certain of those properties contradict the character of the physical in quantum mechanics, which provides a better, more comprehensive, and more fundamental account of phenomena. It is argued that the difficulties that have plagued physicalists (...)
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  10. Henry P. Stapp (2005). Quantum Physics in Neuroscience and Psychology: A Neurophysical Model of Mind €“Brain Interaction. Philosophical Transactions-Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences 360 (1458):1309-1327.
    Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately suffice to explain all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and fields, and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. ‘feeling’, ‘knowing’ and ‘effort’) are not included as primary causal factors. This (...)
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Formulating Physicalism
  1. Virgil Aldrich (1977). Description and Expression: Physicalism Restricted. Inquiry 20 (1-4):149 – 164.
    'Material thing' is a two-level concept. In 'first-order extension' - the field of perceptual experience - it is a 'body' that may 'body forth' (show, express) a 'content', like the bodies of persons or pictures. In 'second-order extension' -the physical field or space - it is a 'physical object' whose micro-constitution is the target of the reference of theoretical terms or formulae. As such, it has no content - nothing to 'express'. In the description of a material thing in first-order (...)
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  2. Joseph A. Baltimore (2013). Careful, Physicalists: Mind–Body Supervenience Can Be Too Superduper. Theoria 79 (1):8-21.
    It has become evident that mind–body supervenience, as merely specifying a covariance between mental and physical properties, is consistent with clearly non-physicalist views of the mental, such as emergentism. Consequently, there is a push in the physicalist camp for an ontologically more robust supervenience, a “superdupervenience,” that ensures that properties supervening on physical properties are physicalistically acceptable. Jessica Wilson claims that supervenience is made superduper by Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): each individual causal power associated with a supervenient property is (...)
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  3. Joseph A. Baltimore (2013). Stoljar's Twin-Physics World. Philosophia 41 (1):127-136.
    In his recent book Physicalism, Daniel Stoljar argues that there is no version of physicalism that is both true and deserving of the name. His argument employs a variation of Hilary Putnam’s famous twin-earth story, which Stoljar calls “the twin-physics world.” In this paper, I challenge Stoljar’s use of the twin-physics world. The upshot of that challenge, I argue, is that Stoljar fails to show, concerning the versions of physicalism for which he grants the possibility of being true, that none (...)
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  4. Joseph A. Baltimore (2013). Type Physicalism and Causal Exclusion. Journal of Philosophical Research 38:405-418.
    While concerns of the mental being causally excluded by the physical have persistently plagued non-reductive physicalism, such concerns are standardly taken to pose no problem for reductive type physicalism. Type physicalists have the obvious advantage of being able to countenance the reduction of mental properties to their physical base properties by way of type identity, thereby avoiding any causal competition between instances of mental properties and their physical bases. Here, I challenge this widely accepted advantage of type physicalism over non-reductive (...)
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  5. Ned Block (forthcoming). The Canberra Plan Neglects Ground. In Terence Horgan, Marcelo Sabates & David Sosa (eds.), Qualia and Mental Causation in a Physical World: Themes from the Philosophy of Jaegwon Kim,. Cambridge University Press.
    This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...)
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  6. P. Bokulich (2011). Hempel's Dilemma and Domains of Physics. Analysis 71 (4):646-651.
    Hempel's Dilemma is the claim that physicalism is an ill-formed thesis because it can offer no account of the physics that it refers to: current physics will be discarded in the future, and we don't yet know the nature of future physics. This article confronts the first horn of the dilemma, and argues that our knowledge of current physics is sufficient for offering a physicalist ontology of the mind. We have good scientific evidence that future physics will be irrelevant to (...)
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  7. A. Botterell (2005). A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism. Philosophical Review 114 (1):125-128.
    A review of Andrew Melnyk's _A Physicalist Manifesto_ (Cambridge: CUP, 2003).
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  8. H. G. Callaway & Paul Gochet (2007). Quine's Physicalism. In Filosofia, Scienza e Bioetica nel dibattito contemperano, Studi internazionali in onore di Evandro Agazzi, pp. 1105-1115.
    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. (...)
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  9. Chapman Cohen (1943). Materialism Restated. London, Issued for the Secular Society, Limited, by the Pioneer Press.
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  10. Tim Crane (2000). Dualism, Monism, Physicalism. Mind and Society 1 (2):73-85.
    Dualism can be contrasted with monism, and also with physicalism. It is argued here that what is essential to physicalism is not just its denial of dualism, but the epistemological and ontological authority it gives to physical science. A physicalist view of the mind must be reductive in one or both of the following senses: it must identify mental phenomena with physical phenomena (ontological reduction) or it must give an explanation of mental phenomena in physical terms (explanatory or (...)
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  11. Tim Crane (1993). Reply to Pettit. Analysis 53 (4):224-27.
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  12. Tim Crane (1991). All God has to Do. Analysis 51 (October):235-44.
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  13. Tim Crane & D. H. Mellor (1990). There is No Question of Physicalism. Mind 99 (394):185-206.
    Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but they all grant physical science (...)
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  14. S. Crook (2001). Why Physics Alone Cannot Define the 'Physical': Materialism, Metaphysics, and the Formulation of Physicalism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):333-360.
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  15. Chris Daly (1998). What Are Physical Properties? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (3):196-217.
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  16. Chris Daly (1995). Does Physicalism Need Fixing? Analysis 55 (3):135-41.
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  17. Shamik Dasgupta (forthcoming). The Possibility of Physicalism. Journal of Philosophy.
    It has been suggested that many philosophical theses—physicalism, normative naturalism, phenomenalism, and so on—should be understood in terms of ground. Against this, Ted Sider (2011) has argued that ground is ill-suited for this purpose. Here I develop Sider’s objection and offer a response. In doing so I develop a view about the role of ground in philosophy, and about the content of these distinctively philosophical theses.
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  18. Kim Davies (2014). Emergence From What? A Transcendental Understanding of the Place of Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (5-6):10-32.
    This paper argues that the standard formulations of the question of how consciousness emerges, both synchronically and diachronically, from the physical world necessarily use a concept of the physical without either a clear grasp of the concept or an understanding of the necessary conditions of its possibility. This concept will be elucidated and some of the necessary conditions of its possibility explored, clarifying the place of the mental and the physical as abstractions from the totality of an agent engaged in (...)
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  19. Louis deRosset (2013). Grounding Explanations. Philosophers' Imprint 13 (7).
    A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer (or even if there is one), but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or (...)
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  20. John Dewey, Sidney Hook & Ernest Nagel (1945). Are Naturalists Materialists? Journal of Philosophy 42 (September):515-530.
    Professor [H.W.] Sheldon's critique of contemporary naturalism as professed in the volume Naturalism and the Human Spirit consists of one central "accusation": naturalism is materialism pure and simple. This charge is supported by his further claim that since the scientific method naturalists espouse for acquiring reliable knowledge of nature is incapable of yielding knowledge of the mental or spiritual "nature" for the naturalist is definitionally limited to "physical nature." He therefore concludes that instead of being a philosophy which can settle (...)
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  21. Esa Diaz-Leon (2008). We Are Living in a Material World (and I Am a Material Girl). Teorema 27 (3):85-101.
    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.
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  22. Jonathan E. Dorsey (2011). On the Supposed Limits of Physicalist Theories of Mind. Philosophical Studies 155 (2):207-225.
    Is physicalism compatible with either panpsychism or so-called fundamental mentality ? Minimal physicalism, I contend, is compatible with both. We should therefore jettison the No Fundamental Mentality constraint, a proposed constraint on the definition of the physical , not to mention the false limits it places on physicalist theories of mind.
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  23. Janice Dowell, J. L. (2006). Formulating the Thesis of Physicalism. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):1-23.
    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 (...)
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  24. Janice Dowell, J. L. (2006). The Physical: Empirical, Not Metaphysical. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):25-60.
    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 <span class='Hi'>miracle</span>-performing angels.[9] Moreover, if physicalism is true, our knowledge of its truth is a posteriori. This is to say that there are (...)
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  25. Janice Dowell (2006). Formulating the Thesis of Physicalism: An Introduction. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):1-23.
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  26. John Earman (1975). What is Physicalism? Journal of Philosophy 72 (October):565-567.
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  27. Robert Francescotti (2013). The Problem of Extras and the Contingency of Physicalism. Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):1-14.
    Perhaps all concrete phenomena obtain solely in virtue of physical phenomena. Even so, it seems that the world could have been otherwise. It seems that physicalism, if true, is contingently true. In fact, many believe that the actual truth of physicalism allows metaphysically possible worlds duplicating the actual world in all physical respects while containing immaterial extras, e.g. ghosts, spirits, or Cartesian souls, that no physicalist would believe actually exist. Here I focus on physicalism regarding mentality and argue that the (...)
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  28. Robert Francescotti (2000). Ontological Physicalism and Property Pluralism: Why They Are Incompatible. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (4):349-362.
    To earn the title “ontological physicalist,” one must endorse an entailment thesis of the following sort: the physical properties that are had, together with the causal laws, determine which higher-level properties are had. I argue that if this thesis is to capture all that is essential to physicalist intuitions, the relevant set of causal laws must be restricted to purely physical laws. But then it follows that higher-level properties are physical properties. The conclusion is that one cannot consistently be an (...)
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  29. Carl Gillett (2001). The Methodological Role of Physicalism: A Minimal Skepticism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.
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  30. Carl Gillett & D. Gene Witmer (2001). A "Physical" Need: Physicalism and the Via Negativa. Analysis 61 (272):302–309.
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  31. Benedikt Paul Göcke (2009). What is Physicalism? Ratio 22 (3):291-307.
    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 (...)
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  32. Peter Godfrey-Smith (1999). Procrustes Probably: Comments on Sober's "Physicalism From a Probabilistic Point of View". Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):175-181.
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  33. Matthew C. Haug (2011). On the Distinction Between Reductive and Nonreductive Physicalism. Metaphilosophy 42 (4):451-469.
    Abtract: This article argues that the debate between reductive and nonreductive physicalists is best characterized as a disagreement about which properties are natural. Among other things, natural properties are those that characterize the world completely. All physicalists accept the “completeness of physics,” but this claim contains a subtle ambiguity, which results in two conceptions of natural properties. Reductive physicalists should assert, while nonreductive physicalists should deny, that a single set of low-level physical properties is natural in both of these senses. (...)
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  34. John Hawthorne (2002). Blocking Definitions of Materialism. Philosophical Studies 110 (2):103-13.
    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 (...)
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  35. John Heil (ed.) (1989). Cause, Mind, and Reality: Essays Honoring C. B. Martin. Norwell: Kluwer.
  36. Terence E. Horgan (2006). Materialism: Matters of Definition, Defense, and Deconstruction. Philosophical Studies 131 (1):157-83.
    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.
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  37. D. House Vaden & Marvin J. McDonald (1992). Post-Physicalism and Beyond. Dialogue 31 (4):593-621.
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  38. Andreas Hüttemann & David Papineau (2005). Physicalism Decomposed. Analysis 65 (285):33-39.
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  39. Frank Jackson (2006). On Ensuring That Physicalism is Not a Dual Attribute Theory in Sheep's Clothing. Philsophical Studies 131 (1):227-249.
    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.
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  40. Neal Judisch (2008). Why 'Non-Mental' Won't Work: On Hempel's Dilemma and the Characterization of the 'Physical'. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 140 (3):299 - 318.
    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 (...)
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