Non-reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom

Abstract
Some claim that Non-reductive Physicalism (NRP) is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism (contra Non-reduction ), or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety (contra Physicalism ). I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may hold between the degrees of freedom needed to characterize certain special science entities, and those needed to characterize (systems consisting of) their composing physical (or physically acceptable) entities; these correspond to what I call ‘reductions’, ‘restrictions’, and ‘eliminations’ in degrees of freedom. I then argue that eliminations in degrees of freedom, in particular—when strictly fewer degrees of freedom are required to characterize certain special science entities than are required to characterize (systems consisting of) their composing physical (or physically acceptable) entities—provide a basis for making sense of how certain special science entities can be both physically acceptable and ontologically irreducible to physical entities
Keywords nonreductive physicalism  non-reductive physicalism  degrees of freedom  emergence  weak emergence
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    References found in this work BETA
    RW Batterman (2000). Multiple Realizability and Universality. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (1):115-145.
    Lenny Clapp (2001). Disjunctive Properties. Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):111 - 136.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Fernando Birman (2009). Quantum Mechanics and the Plight of Physicalism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 40 (2):207-225.
    Jonathan Bain (2013). The Emergence of Spacetime in Condensed Matter Approaches to Quantum Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):338-345.
    James Blachowicz (2013). The Constraint Interpretation of Physical Emergence. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 44 (1):21-40.
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    A. D. Smith (1993). Non-Reductive Physicalism? In Howard M. Robinson (ed.), Objections to Physicalism. Oxford University Press.
    Peter Forrest (1996). Physicalism and Classical Theism. Faith and Philosophy 13 (2):179-200.
    Tim Crane (2001). The Significance of Emergence. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.
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