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Realization

Edited by Ronald Endicott (North Carolina State University)
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Summary

The idiom of realization was popularized by Hilary Putnam in the 1960s as a way to describe relations that are implicated by the machine functionalist view. Specifically, Putnam said that an abstract machine as well as a machine table or description is realized by a physical machine. Philosophers then began to use the idiom in a more general way to designate various types of inter-level relations, not just the relation between mental states and brain states, but persons and bodies, biological items in relation to more basic structural or chemical items, and so on. More recently, philosophers present concepts of realization as a better way to account for inter-level relations than competing concepts of supervenience and emergence.

Key works One may categorize different concepts of realization in terms of three basic conceptual traditions. First there is a semantic tradition whereby “to be realized” names a semantic relation, e.g., the satisfaction of a predicate by an object (Lewis 1972). Second there is a mathematical tradition whereby “to be realized” names a mapping or correspondence relation, e.g., a one-to-one mapping between the states of an abstract machine and a concrete physical machine (Putnam 1960; Chalmers 1994). Third there is a metaphysical tradition whereby “to be realized” names a relation of determination or a related notion of inter-level production. This metaphysical tradition itself divides into several different views. There is realization understood in terms of parts and wholes (Cummins 1983; Gillett 2002; Haug 2010). There is realization by functional roles and occupation (Papineau 1993; Melnyk 1994; Kim 2000), or broader notions of function (Polger 2004). There is fusion of part-whole realization with functional role and occupation realization (Endicott 2011). There is realization understood in terms of determinables and determinates (Macdonald & Macdonald 1986; Yablo 1992). There is wide versus narrow realization (Wilson 2001). There is realization by a contextually sensitive INUS condition that allows for a type of converse to multiple realizability (Endicott 1994). And there is realization understood in terms of subsets of causal powers (Wilson 1999, 2011; Shoemaker 2001, 2007). Philosophers have also argued that concepts of realization are better at preserving physicalist intutions over rival concepts of supervenience (Melnyk 1994, 2003; Wilson 1999; Witmer 2001), debated the connection between concepts of realization and subsequent judgments about multiple realizability (Shapiro 2004; Gillett 2003; Aizawa & Gillett 2009), discussed the ontology of realization (Polger & Shapiro 2008; Endicott 2010; Gillett 2011), and made proposals about the different theoretical role for different concepts of realization (Gillett 2002; Polger 2007; Endicott 2012).
Introductions

There are a few general introductions: Ronald Endicott's (2005) encyclopedia article on multiple realizability contains a section dedicated to concepts of realization; and Carl Craver and Robert Wilson's (2006) entry in a handbook on the philosophy of psychology and cognitive science addresses some basic views on realization in both philosophy and the sciences. A paper by Thomas Polger (2007) also covers some broad territory regarding different concepts of realization.

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  1. Kenneth Aizawa (2013). Multiple Realization by Compensatory Differences. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (1):69-86.
    One way that scientifically recognized properties are multiply realized is by “compensatory differences” among realizing properties. If a property G is jointly realized by two properties F1 and F2, then G can be multiply realized by having changes in the property F1 offset changes in the property F2. In some cases, there are scientific laws that articulate how distinct combinations of physical quantities can determine one and the same value of some other physical quantity. One moral to draw is that (...)
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  2. Paul Audi (2012). Properties, Powers, and the Subset Account of Realization. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):654-674.
    According to the subset account of realization, a property, F, is realized by another property, G, whenever F is individuated by a non-empty proper subset of the causal powers by which G is individuated (and F is not a conjunctive property of which G is a conjunct). This account is especially attractive because it seems both to explain the way in which realized properties are nothing over and above their realizers, and to provide for the causal efficacy of realized properties. (...)
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  3. Umut Baysan (2014). Review of 'Mental Causation and Ontology'. [REVIEW] Mind:1-4.
  4. Ansgar Beckermann (1997). Property Physicalism, Reduction, and Realization. In Martin Carrier & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Mindscapes: Philosophy, Science, and the Mind. Pittsburgh University Press. 303--321.
    Ansgar Beckermann Once, a mind-body theory based upon the idea of supervenience seemed to be a promising alternative to the various kinds of reductionistic physicalism. In recent years, however, Jaegwon Kim has subjected his own brainchild to a very thorough criticism. With most of Kim’s arguments I agree wholeheartedly - not least because they converge with my own thoughts.2 In order to explain the few points of divergence with Kim’s views, I shall have to prepare the ground a little. In (...)
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  5. Richard Boyd (1980). Materialism Without Reductionism: What Physicalism Does Not Entail. In Ned Block (ed.), Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology. , Vol 1. 1--67.
  6. David J. Chalmers (1996). Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton? Synthese 108 (3):309-33.
    Hilary Putnam has argued that computational functionalism cannot serve as a foundation for the study of the mind, as every ordinary open physical system implements every finite-state automaton. I argue that Putnam's argument fails, but that it points out the need for a better understanding of the bridge between the theory of computation and the theory of physical systems: the relation of implementation. It also raises questions about the class of automata that can serve as a basis for understanding the (...)
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  7. David J. Chalmers (1994). On Implementing a Computation. Minds and Machines 4 (4):391-402.
    To clarify the notion of computation and its role in cognitive science, we need an account of implementation, the nexus between abstract computations and physical systems. I provide such an account, based on the idea that a physical system implements a computation if the causal structure of the system mirrors the formal structure of the computation. The account is developed for the class of combinatorial-state automata, but is sufficiently general to cover all other discrete computational formalisms. The implementation relation is (...)
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  8. Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press ;.
    Carl Craver investigates what we are doing when we sue neuroscience to explain what's going on in the brain.
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  9. Carl F. Craver (2004). Dissociable Realization and Kind Splitting. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):960-971.
    It is a common assumption in contemporary cognitive neuroscience that discovering a putative realized kind to be dissociably realized (i.e., to be realized in each instance by two or more distinct realizers) mandates splitting that kind. Here I explore some limits on this inference using two deceptively similar examples: the dissociation of declarative and procedural memory and Ramachandran's argument that the self is an illusion.
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  10. Carl F. Craver (2001). Role Functions, Mechanisms, and Hierarchy. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):53-74.
    Many areas of science develop by discovering mechanisms and role functions. Cummins' (1975) analysis of role functions-according to which an item's role function is a capacity of that item that appears in an analytic explanation of the capacity of some containing system-captures one important sense of "function" in the biological sciences and elsewhere. Here I synthesize Cummins' account with recent work on mechanisms and causal/mechanical explanation. The synthesis produces an analysis of specifically mechanistic role functions, one that uses the characteristic (...)
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  11. Carl F. Craver & Robert A. Wilson (2006). Realization. In P. Thagard (ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.
    For the greater part of the last 50 years, it has been common for philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists to invoke the notion of realization in discussing the relationship between the mind and the brain. In traditional philosophy of mind, mental states are said to be realized, instantiated, or implemented in brain states. Artificial intelligence is sometimes described as the attempt either to model or to actually construct systems that realize some of the same psychological abilities that we and (...)
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  12. Robert C. Cummins (1983). The Nature of Psychological Explanation. MIT Press.
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  13. Wim de Muijnck (2003). Wide Physical Realization. Inquiry 46 (1):97 – 111.
    In this paper I develop a theory of the physical realization of higher-level properties. I argue that physical realization is in an important sense indirect, and that at each level causal relations are crucial to realizing next-level phenomena. My account makes it intelligible how higher-level properties can be realized by wide stretches of physical reality without the inter-level dependence becoming weak, or global; it also explains how both physicalism and non-reductivism can be true.
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  14. Douglas E. Ehring (1996). Mental Causation, Determinables, and Property Instances. Noûs 30 (4):461-80.
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  15. Ronald P. Endicott (2012). Resolving Arguments by Different Conceptual Traditions of Realization. Philosophical Studies 159 (1):41-59.
    There is currently a significant amount of interest in understanding and developing theories of realization. Naturally arguments have arisen about the adequacy of some theories over others. Many of these arguments have a point. But some can be resolved by seeing that the theories of realization in question are not genuine competitors because they fall under different conceptual traditions with different but compatible goals. I will first describe three different conceptual traditions of realization that are implicated by the arguments under (...)
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  16. Ronald P. Endicott (2011). Flat Versus Dimensioned: The What and the How of Functional Realization. Journal of Philosophical Research 36:191-208.
    I resolve an argument over “flat” versus “dimensioned” theories of realization. The theories concern, in part, whether realized and realizing properties are instantiated by the same individual (the flat theory) or different individuals in a part-whole relationship (the dimensioned theory). Carl Gillett has argued that the two views conflict, and that flat theories should be rejected on grounds that they fail to capture scientific cases involving a dimensioned relation between individuals and their constituent parts. I argue on the contrary that (...)
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  17. Ronald P. Endicott (2010). Realization, Reductios, and Category Inclusion. Journal of Philosophy 107 (4):213-219.
    Thomas Polger and Laurence Shapiro argue that Carl Gillett's much publicized dimensioned theory of realization is incoherent, being subject to a reductio. Their argument turns on the fact that Gillett's definition of realization makes property instances the exclusive relata of the realization relation, while his belief in multiple realization implies its denial, namely, that properties are the relata of the realization relation on occasions of multiple realization. Others like Sydney Shoemaker have also expressed their view of realization in terms of (...)
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  18. Ronald P. Endicott (2005). Multiple Realizability. In D. Borchert (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition. Thomson Gale, Macmillan Reference.
    Multiple realizability has been at the heart of debates about whether the mind reduces to the brain, or whether the items of a special science reduce to the items of a physical science. I analyze the two central notions implied by the concept of multiple realizability: "multiplicity," otherwise known as property variability, and "realizability." Beginning with the latter, I distinguish three broad conceptual traditions. The Mathematical Tradition equates realization with a form of mapping between objects. Generally speaking, x realizes (or (...)
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  19. Ronald P. Endicott (1994). Constructival Plasticity. Philosophical Studies 74 (1):51-75.
    Some scientists and philosophers have claimed that there is a converse to multiple realizability. While a given higher-level property can be realized by different lower-level properties (multiple realizability), a given lower-level property can in turn serve to realize different higher-level properties (this converse I dubbed the unfortunately obscure "constructival plasticity" to emphasize the constructive metaphysics involved when realizing properties generate realized properties in the stated way). I begin by defining multiple realizabilty in a formal way, then turn to the relation (...)
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  20. Norman Y. Foo & Pavlos Peppas (2001). Realization for Causal Nondeterministic Input-Output Systems. Studia Logica 67 (3):419-437.
    There are two well-developed formalizations of discrete time dynamic systems that evidently share many concerns but suffer from a lack of mutual awareness. One formalization is classical systems and automata theory. The other is the logic of actions in which the situation and event calculi are the strongest representatives. Researchers in artificial intelligence are likely to be familiar with the latter but not the former. This is unfortunate, for systems and automata theory have much to offer by way of insight (...)
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  21. Robert Francescotti (2010). Realization and Physicalism. Philosophical Psychology 23 (5):601-616.
    Melnyk provides a rigorous analysis of the notion of realization with the aim of defining Physicalism. It is argued here that contrary to Melnyk's Realization Physicalism, the idea that mental phenomena are realized by physical phenomena fails to capture the physicalist belief that the former obtain in virtue of the latter. The conclusion is not that Physicalism is false, but that its truth is best explained with some notion other than realization in Melnyk's sense. I also argue that the problems (...)
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  22. Robert Francescotti (2002). Understanding Physical Realization (and What It Does Not Entail). Journal of Mind and Behavior 23 (3):279-292.
    The notion of realization is defined so that we can better understand what it means to say that mentality is physically realized. It is generally thought that physical properties realize mental properties (thesis PR). The definitions provided here support this belief, but they also reveal that mental properties can be viewed as realizing physical properties. This consequence questions the value of PR in helping us capture the idea that mental phenomena are dependent upon (i.e., obtain by virtue of) physical phenomena. (...)
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  23. Carl Gillett (2013). Constitution, and Multiple Constitution, in the Sciences: Using the Neuron to Construct a Starting Framework. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 23 (3):309-337.
    Inter-level mechanistic explanations in the sciences have long been a focus of philosophical interest, but attention has recently turned to the compositional character of these explanations which work by explaining higher level entities, whether processes, individuals or properties, using the lower level entities they take to compose them. However, we still have no theoretical account of the constitution or parthood relations between individuals deployed in such explanations, nor any accounts of multiple constitution. My primary focus in this paper is to (...)
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  24. Carl Gillett (2007). Hyper-Extending the Mind? Philosophical Topics 351 (1/2):161-188.
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  25. Carl Gillett (2003). Nonreductive Realization and Nonreductive Identity: What Physicalism Does Not Entail. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic. 31.
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  26. Carl Gillett (2003). The Metaphysics of Realization, Multiple Realizability, and the Special Sciences. Journal of Philosophy 100 (11):591-603.
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  27. Carl Gillett (2002). The Dimensions of Realization: A Critique of the Standard View. Analysis 62 (4):316-323.
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  28. Carl Gillett & Aizawa Kenneth (2009). Levels, Individual Variation and Massive Multiple Realization in Neurobiology. In John Bickle (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience. oxford university press.
  29. Marion Godman (forthcoming). The Special Science Dilemma and How Culture Solves It. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
    I argue that there is a tension between the claim that at least some kinds in the special sciences are multiply realized and the claim that the reason kinds are prized by science is that they enter into a variety of different empirical generalizations. Nevertheless, I show that this tension ceases in the case of ‘cultural homologues’–such as specific ideologies, religions, and folk wisdom. I argue that the instances of such special science kinds do have several projectable properties in common (...)
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  30. Jens Harbecke (2013). The Role of Supervenience and Constitution in Neuroscientific Research. Synthese:1-19.
    This paper is concerned with the notions of supervenience and mechanistic constitution as they have been discussed in the philosophy of neuroscience. Since both notions essentially involve specific dependence and determination relations among properties and sets of properties, the question arises whether the notions are systematically connected and how they connect to science. In a first step, some definitions of supervenience and mechanistic constitution are presented and tested for logical independence. Afterwards, certain assumptions fundamental to neuroscientific inquiry are made explicit (...)
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  31. Matthew C. Haug (2010). Realization, Determination, and Mechanisms. Philosophical Studies 150 (3):313-330.
    Several philosophers (e.g., Ehring (Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 30:461–480, 1996 ); Funkhouser (Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 40:548–569, 2006 ); Walter (Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37:217–244, 2007 ) have argued that there are metaphysical differences between the determinable-determinate relation and the realization relation between mental and physical properties. Others have challenged this claim (e.g., Wilson (Philosophical Studies, 2009 ). In this paper, I argue that there are indeed such differences and propose a “mechanistic” account of realization that elucidates why these differences hold. This (...)
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  32. Matthew C. Haug (2007). Of Mice and Metaphysics: Natural Selection and Realized Population‐Level Properties. Philosophy of Science 74 (4):431-451.
    In this paper, I answer a fundamental question facing any view according to which natural selection is a population‐level causal process—namely, how is the causal process of natural selection related to, yet not preempted by, causal processes that occur at the level of individual organisms? Without an answer to this grounding question, the population‐level causal view appears unstable—collapsing into either an individual‐level causal interpretation or the claim that selection is a purely formal, statistical phenomenon. I argue that a causal account (...)
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  33. John Heil (1992). The Nature of True Minds. Cambridge University Press.
    This book aims at reconciling the emerging conceptions of mind and their contents that have, in recent years, come to seem irreconcilable. Post-Cartesian philosophers face the challenge of comprehending minds as natural objects possessing apparently non-natural powers of thought. The difficulty is to understand how our mental capacities, no less than our biological or chemical characteristics, might ultimately be products of our fundamental physical constituents, and to do so in a way that preserves the phenomena. Externalists argue that the significance (...)
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  34. Giovanna Hendel (2001). Realization. Critica 33 (98):41-70.
    So far no clear explication of the notion of realization has been offered, in spite of the frequent uses of the notion in the literature to discharge important jobs, such as that of accounting for the causal efficacy of the mental in a physical world, and that of providing a viable characterization of physicalism, and/or psychophysical reduction. I put forward an account of realization as an identity-like relation. I argue that such account has the following advantages: (a) it provides a (...)
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  35. Frank Hofmann (2007). Causal Powers, Realization, and Mental Causation. Erkenntnis 67 (2):173 - 182.
    Sydney Shoemaker has attempted to save mental causation by a new account of realization. As Brian McLaughlin argues convincingly, the account has to face two major problems. First, realization does not guarantee entailment. So even if mental properties are realized by physical properties, they need not be entailed by them. This is the first, rather general metaphysical problem. A second problem, which relates more directly to mental causation is that Shoemaker must appeal to some kind of proportionality as a constraint (...)
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  36. Jaegwon Kim (2010). Thoughts on Sydney Shoemaker's Physical Realization. Philosophical Studies 148 (1):101 - 112.
    This paper discusses in broad terms the metaphysical projects of Sydney Shoemaker’s Physical Realization . Specifically, I examine the effectiveness of Shoemaker’s novel “subset” account of realization for defusing the problem of mental causation, and compare the “subset” account with the standard “second-order” account. Finally, I discuss the physicalist status of the metaphysical worldview presented in Shoemaker’s important new contribution to philosophy of mind and metaphysics.
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  37. Jaegwon Kim (2000). Mind in a Physical World: An Essay on the Mind-Body Problem and Mental Causation. MIT Press.
    This book, based on Jaegwon Kim's 1996 Townsend Lectures, presents the philosopher's current views on a variety of issues in the metaphysics of the mind...
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  38. Jaegwon Kim (1997). Supervenience, Emergence, and Realization in the Philosophy of Mind. In Martin Carrier & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Mindscapes: Philosophy, Science, and the Mind. Pittsburgh University Press.
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  39. Ernest LePore & Barry M. Loewer (1989). More on Making Mind Matter. Philosophical Topics 17 (1):175-91.
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  40. Joseph Levine (2001). Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    Conscious experience presents a deep puzzle. On the one hand, a fairly robust materialism must be true in order to explain how it is that conscious events causally interact with non-conscious, physical events. On the other hand, we cannot explain how physical phenomena give rise to conscious experience. In this wide-ranging study, Joseph Levine explores both sides of the mind-body dilemma, presenting the first book-length treatment of his highly influential ideas on the "explanatory gap," the fact that we can't explain (...)
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  41. Joseph Levine & Kelly Trogdon (2009). The Modal Status of Materialism. Philosophical Studies 145 (3):351 - 362.
    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 (...)
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  42. David Lewis (1972). Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (December):249-58.
  43. William G. Lycan (1987). Consciousness. MIT Press.
    In this book, William Lycan reviews the diverse philosophical views on consciousness--including those of Kripke, Block, Campbell, Sellars, and Casteneda--and ...
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  44. William G. Lycan (1979). A New Lilliputian Argument Against Machine Functionalism. Philosophical Studies 35 (April):279-87.
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  45. Cynthia Macdonald & Graham F. Macdonald (1986). Mental Causes and Explanation of Action. Philosophical Quarterly 36 (April):145-58.
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  46. Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver (2000). Thinking About Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
    The concept of mechanism is analyzed in terms of entities and activities, organized such that they are productive of regular changes. Examples show how mechanisms work in neurobiology and molecular biology. Thinking in terms of mechanisms provides a new framework for addressing many traditional philosophical issues: causality, laws, explanation, reduction, and scientific change.
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  47. Colin McGinn (1980). Philosophical Materialism. Synthese 44 (June):173-206.
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  48. Brian P. McLaughlin (2007). Mental Causation and Shoemaker-Realization. Erkenntnis 67 (2):149 - 172.
    Sydney Shoemaker has proposed a new definition of `realization’ and used it to try to explain how mental events can be causes within the framework of a non-reductive physicalism. I argue that it is not actually his notion of realization that is doing the work in his account of mental causation, but rather the assumption that certain physical properties entail mental properties that do not entail them. I also point out how his account relies on certain other controversial assumptions, including (...)
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  49. Andrew Melnyk (2014). Pereboom's Robust Non-Reductive Physicalism. Erkenntnis 79:1191-1207.
    Derk Pereboom has recently elaborated a formulation of non-reductive physicalism in which supervenience does not play the central role and realization plays no role at all; he calls his formulation “robust non-reductive physicalism”. This paper argues that for several reasons robust non-reductive physicalism is inadequate as a formulation of physicalism: it can only rule out fundamental laws of physical-to-mental emergence by stipulating that there are no such laws; it fails to entail the supervenience of the mental on the physical; it (...)
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  50. Andrew Melnyk (2010). Comments on Sydney Shoemaker's 'Physical Realization'. Philosophical Studies 148 (1):113 - 123.
    This paper concerns Sydney Shoemaker's view, presented in his book, Physical Realization (Oxford University Press, 2007), of how mental properties are realized by physical properties. That view aims to avoid the "too many minds" problem to which he seems to be led by his further view that human persons are not token-identical with their bodies. The paper interprets and criticizes Shoemaker's view.
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