Themes in my philosophical work

In Johannes L. Brandl (ed.), Essays on the Philosophy of Terence Horgan. Atlanta: Rodopi 1-26 (2002)
I invoked the notion of supervenience in my doctoral disseration, Microreduction and the Mind-Body Problem, completed at the University of Michigan in 1974 under the direction of Jaegwon Kim. I had been struck by the appeal to supervenience in Hare (1952), a classic work in twentieth century metaethics that I studied at Michigan in a course on metaethics taught by William Frankena; and I also had been struck by the brief appeal to supervenience in Davidson (1970). Kim was already, in effect, construing the relation between physical and mental properties as a supervenience relation?although he was not yet using the word ?supervenience?. I assumed that a materialistic metaphysics was correct, and that integral to materialism is the idea that higher-level sciences (including psychology) are reducible to lower-level ones?ultimately to microphysics. One idea I pressed in the dissertation was that biconditional ?bridge laws? would not suffice for genuine intertheoretic reduction if these inter-level laws were additional fundamental laws of nature alongside those of the reducing science; they would be what Herbert Feigl and J.J. C. Smart, in their writings on the psychophysical identity theory, called ?nomological danglers.? I argued that the higher-level property in a bridge law should bear a relation of strict supervenience to its correlated lower-level property, rather than merely being nomically correlated with it. The basic idea was that there are no two physically possible worlds w1 and w2?where a physically possible world is, roughly, a world in which the laws of microphysics obtain and in which there are no nonphysical substances like entelechies or Cartesian souls?such that the actual-world bridge laws obtain in world w1 but not in world w2. (Thus, the bridge laws themselves are fixed relative to the fundamental physical facts and fundamental laws, rather than being fundamental laws themselves alongside those of microphysics.) Already when
Keywords Epistemology  Metaethics  Metaphilosophy  Mind  Ontology  Semantics  Supervenience  Horgan, T
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