Supervenience-based formulations of physicalism

Noûs 39 (3):426-459 (2005)
The physicalist thesis that all entities are nothing over and above physical entities is often interpreted as appealing to a supervenience-based account of "nothing over and aboveness”, where, schematically, the A-entities are nothing over and above the B-entities if the A-entities supervene on the B-entities. The main approaches to filling in this 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 the resulting formulation of physicalism 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.
Keywords Emergentism  Metaphysics  Necessity  Physicalism  Properties  Supervenience
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DOI 10.1111/j.0029-4624.2005.00508.x
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Jessica M. Wilson (2010). What is Hume's Dictum, and Why Believe It? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595 - 637.
Jessica M. Wilson (2010). Non-Reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom. British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
Karen Bennett (2007). Mental Causation. Philosophy Compass 2 (2):316-337.

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