Some claim that Non-reductivePhysicalism (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. (shrink)
In recent years, the debate on the problem of causal exclusion has seen an ‘interventionist turn’. Numerous non-reductive physicalists (e.g. Shapiro and Sober 2007) have argued that Woodward's (2003) interventionist theory of causation provides a means to empirically establish the existence of non-reducible mental-to-physical causation. By contrast, Baumgartner (2010) has presented an interventionist exclusion argument showing that interventionism is in fact incompatible with non-reductivephysicalism. In response, a number of revised versions of interventionism have been suggested that (...) are compatible with non-reductivephysicalism. The first part of this paper reconstructs the definitional details of these modified interventionist theories. The second part investigates whether the modification proposed in Woodward (2011) is not only compatible with, but moreover supports non-reductivephysicalism. In particular, it is examined whether that newest variant of interventionism allows for empirically resolving the problem of causal exclusion as envisaged by Shapiro, Sober and others. (shrink)
Malebranche’s so-called conservation is continuous creation (CCC) argument has been celebrated as a powerful and persuasive argument for Occasionalism—the claim that only God has and exercises causal powers. In this paper I want to examine the CCC argument for Occasionalism by comparing it to Jaegwon Kim’s so-called Supervenience argument against non-reductivephysicalism. Because the arguments have deep similarities it is interesting and fruitful to consider them in tandem. First I argue that both the CCC argument and the Supervenience (...) argument turn on the same general principle, what Kim calls Edward’s Dictum. It is doubtful that Malebranche or Kim succeed in grounding Edward’s Dictum, though Malebranche, I think, has more resources at his disposal to make his case. Even if this worry is waived, however, I argue that the completion of Stage 1 of the Supervenience argument can be used to raise a further worry for the CCC argument that cannot easily be resolved. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challenge to both emergentism and non-reductivephysicalism by providing arguments that these positons are committed to an untenabie combination of both 'upward' and 'dounward' determination. In section 1, I illuminate how the nature of the realization relation underlies such skeptical arguments However, in section 2, I suggest that such conclusions involve a confusion between the implications of physicalism and those of a related thesis in 'Completeness of Physics' (CoP). (...) I show tht the truth of CoP poses a very serious obstacle to realized properties being efficacious in a physicalist universe and suggest that abandoning CoP offers hope for defending non-reductivephysicalism. I then fornulate a schema for a physicalist metaphysics, in section 3, which rejects CoP. This scenario is one where microphysical properties have a few conditional powers that they contribute to individuals when they realize certain properties. In such a situation, I argue, though physicalism holds true there is still plausibly both `upward' and 'downward' determination, where the latter is crucially an underappreciated form of determmation I term 'non- causal'. Ultimately, I conclude that this metaphysical schema offers a coherent account of Strongly ernergent properties that preserves the truth of NRP, albeit in a form that is purged of any committment to CoP. Finally, in section 4, I carefully explore which of Kim's assumptions and arguments this metaphysics undermines. (shrink)
I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that (...) occasion. Accounts of non-reductive realization conforming to this condition are implementing what I call 'the powers-based subset strategy'. I focus on the crucial case involving mental and brain states; the results may be generalized, as appropriate. I ﬁrst situate and motivate the strategy by attention to the problem of mental causation; I make the case, in schematic terms, that implementation of the strategy makes room (contra Kim 1989, 1993, 1998, and elsewhere) for mental states to be ontologically and causally autonomous from their realizing physical states, without inducing problematic causal overdetermination, and compatible with both Physicalism and Non-reduction; and I show that several contemporary accounts of non-reductive realization (in terms of functional realization, parthood, and the determinable/determinate relation) are plausibly seen as implementing the strategy. As I also show, implementation of the powers-based strategy does not require endorsement of any particular accounts of either properties or causation---indeed, a categoricalist contingentist Humean can implement the strategy. The schematic location of the strategy in the space of available responses to the problem of mental (more generally, higher-level) causation, as well as the fact that the schema may be metaphysically instantiated, strongly suggests that the strategy is, appropriately generalized and instantiated, sufficient and moreover necessary for non-reductive realization. I go on to defend the sufficiency and necessity claims against a variety of objections, considering, along the way, how the powers-based subset strategy fares against competing accounts of purportedly non-reductive realization in terms of supervenience, token identity, and constitution. (shrink)
Iaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challen,ge to both emergentism cmd ncm-reductIve physicalism lyy providing arguments that these positums are cornmitted to an untenabie combmation of both `upwarcit and 'clouniwardi determmation. In secuon 1, I illuminate how the nature of the realiza:0n relatzon underlies such sicepucal arguments However, tn secuon 2, I suggest that such conclusicrns involve a confusion between the implications of physicahsm and those of a related thesis the Vompleteness of Physics' (Co?) I show (...) tht the truth of Co? poses a very senous obstacle to realized properues beeng efficacrous in a physicalut =verse cmd sikwest that abandonmg Co? offers hope for defending non- reducuve physicalism. (shrink)
Given some reasonable assumptions concerning the nature of mental causation, non-reductivephysicalism faces the following dilemma. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects (given the causal closure of the physical). If mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided if we drop the dichotomy between physical and mental events. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. (...) But actions are neither mental nor physical events. They are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductivephysicalism without downward causation. The tenability of this view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that non-reductivephysicalism is committed to downward causation. Appealing to the nature of actions, I will argue that this commitment can be avoided. (shrink)
Non-reductivephysicalism is committed to two theses: first, that mental properties are ontologically autonomous, and second, that physicalism is true. Jaegwon Kim has argued that this view is unstable – to honor one thesis, one must abandon the other. In this paper, I present an account of property realization that addresses Kim’s criticism and that explains how the two theses are indeed comfortably compatible.
The first part of this paper presents an argument showing that the currently most highly acclaimed interventionist theory of causation, i.e. the one advanced by Woodward, excludes supervening macro properties from having a causal influence on effects of their micro supervenience bases. Moreover, this interventionist exclusion argument is demonstrated to rest on weaker premises than classical exclusion arguments. The second part then discusses a weakening of interventionism that Woodward suggests. This weakened version of interventionism turns out either to be inapplicable (...) to cases of downward causation involving supervening macro properties or to render corresponding causal claims meaningless. In sum, the paper argues that, contrary to what many non-reductive physicalists claim, interventionism does not render non-reductivephysicalism immune to the problem of causal exclusion. (shrink)
Most answers to the mind-body problem are claims about the nature of mental properties and substances. But advocates of non-reductivephysicalism have generally neglected the topic of the nature of substance, quickly nodding to the view that all substances are physical, while focusing their intellectual energy on understanding how mental properties relate to physical ones. Let us call the view that all substances are physical or are exhaustively composed of physical substances substance physicalism (SP). Herein, I argue (...) that non-reductivephysicalism (NRP) cannot uphold substance physicalism and is thereby false. For NRP faces a mind problem: its commitment to property irreducibility prevents that which bears the mental properties—the mind, or on some views, the self or person—from being a physical thing. (shrink)
It is often claimed (1) that levels of nature are related by supervenience, and (2) that processes occurring at particular levels of nature should be studied using dynamical systems theory. However, there has been little consideration of how these claims are related. To address the issue, I show how supervenience relations give rise to ‘supervenience functions’, and use these functions to show how dynamical systems at different levels are related to one another. I then use this analysis to describe a (...) graded approach to non-reductivephysicalism, and to critically assess Davidson’s arguments for psychological anomaly. I also show how this approach can inform empirical research in cognitive science. (shrink)
This short paper is a "quick and dirty" introduction for non-philosophers (with some background in propositional logic) to Jaegwon Kim's famous supervenience argument against non-reductivephysicalism (also known as the exclusion problem). It motivates the problem of mental causation, introduces Kim's formulation of the issue centered around mind-body supervenience, presents the argument in deductive form, and makes explicit why Kim concludes that vindicating mental causation demands a reduction of mind.
Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductivephysicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductivephysicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better.
Nonreductive physicalism faces a serious objection: physicalism entails the existence of an enormous number of modal facts--specifically, facts about exactly which physical properties necessitate each mental property; and, it seems, if mental properties are irreducible, these modal facts cannot all be satisfactorily explained. The only answer to this objection is to claim that the explanations of these modal facts are themselves contingent. This claim requires rejecting "S5" as the appropriate logic for metaphysical modality. Finally, it is argued that (...) rejecting "S5" is not too high a price to pay for nonreductive physicalism: "S5" should probably be rejected anyway. (shrink)
Over the past few decades, Jaegwon Kim has argued that non-reductivephysicalism is an inherently unstable position. In his view, the most serious problem is that non-reductivephysicalism leads to type epiphenomenalism—the causal inefficacy of mental properties. Kim suggests that we can salvage mental causation by endorsing functional reduction. Given the fact that Kim’s goal in formulating functional reduction is to provide a robust account of mental causation it would be surprising if his position implies eliminativism (...) about mental properties or leads to a view that is similar to one of the versions of non-reductivephysicalism that he criticizes. We will show that depending on how certain key claims are interpreted, there are reasons for thinking functional reduction has these implications, in which case either Kim fails to provide a robust account of mental causation or there is reason to suspect that some of his criticisms of non-reductivephysicalism are misguided. (shrink)
Over the past few decades, Jaegwon Kim has argued that non-reductivephysicalism is an inherently unstable position. In his view, the most serious problem is that non-reductivephysicalism leads to type epiphenomenalismâthe causal inefficacy of mental properties. Kim suggests that we can salvage mental causation by endorsing functional reduction. Given the fact that Kimâs goal in formulating functional reduction is to provide a robust account of mental causation it would be surprising if his position implies eliminativism (...) about mental properties or leads to a view that is similar to one of the versions of non-reductivephysicalism that he criticizes. We will show that depending on how certain key claims are interpreted, there are reasons for thinking functional reduction has these implications, in which case either Kim fails to provide a robust account of mental causation or there is reason to suspect that some of his criticisms of non-reductivephysicalism are misguided. (shrink)
For over 20 years, Jaegwon Kim’s Causal Exclusion Argument has stood as the major hurdle for non-reductivephysicalism. If successful, Kim’s argument would show that the high-level properties posited by non-reductive physicalists must either be identical with lower-level physical properties, or else must be causally inert. The most prominent objection to the Causal Exclusion Argument—the so-called Overdetermination Objection—points out that there are some notions of causation that are left untouched by the argument. If causation is simply counterfactual (...) dependence, for example, then the Causal Exclusion Argument fails. Thus, much of the existing debate turns on the issue of which account of causation is appropriate. In this paper, however, I take a bolder approach and argue that Kim’s preferred version of the Causal Exclusion Argument fails no matter what account one gives of causation. Any notion of causation that is strong enough to support the premises of the argument is too strong to play the role required in the logic of the argument. I also consider a second version of the Causal Exclusion Argument, and suggest that although it may avoid the problems of the first version, it begs the question against a particular form of non-reductivephysicalism, namely emergentism. (shrink)
The realization relation that allegedly holds between mental and physical properties plays a crucial role for so-called non-reductivephysicalism because it is supposed to secure both the ontological autonomy of mental properties and, despite their irreducibility, their ability to make a causal difference to the course of the causally closed physical world. For a long time however, the nature of realization has largely been ignored in the philosophy of mind until a couple of years ago authors like Carl (...) Gillett, Derk Pereboom, or Sydney Shoemaker proposed accounts according to which realization is understood against the background of the so-called 'causal theory of properties'. At least partially, the hope was to solve the problem of mental causation, in particular the kind of causal exclusion reasoning made famous by Jaegwon Kim, in a way acceptable to nonreductive physicalists. The paper asks whether a proper explication of the realization relation can indeed help explain how physically realized mental properties can be causally efficacious in the causally closed physical world and argues for a negative answer: it is important for the non-reductive physicalist to understand what exactly the realization relation amounts to, but it does not solve the problem of mental causation. (shrink)
I develop a variant of the constraint interpretation of the emergence of purely physical (non-biological) entities, focusing on the principle of the non-derivability of actual physical states from possible physical states (physical laws) alone. While this is a necessary condition for any account of emergence, it is not sufficient, for it becomes trivial if not extended to types of constraint that specifically constitute physical entities, namely, those that individuate and differentiate them. Because physical organizations with these features are in fact (...) interdependent sets of such constraints, and because such constraints on physical laws cannot themselves be derived from physical laws, physical organization is emergent. These two complementary types of constraint are components of a complete non-reductivephysicalism, comprising a non-reductive materialism and a non-reductive formalism. (shrink)
Supervenience physicalism attempts to combine non-reductionism about properties with a physical determination thesis in such a way as to ensure physicalism. I argue that this attempt is unsuccessful: the specific supervenience relation in question is either strong enough to ensure reductionism, as in the case of strong supervenience, or too weak to yield physical determination, as in the case of global supervenience. The argument develops in three stages. First, I propose a distinction between two types of reductionism, definitional (...) and scientific, a distinction thanks to which we can reply to a standard objection against the ontological reductionism of strong supervenience. Second, I claim that because of "the problem of random distribution," global supervenience needs strengthening to be an adequate relation to capture our physicalistic intuitions; and I show, in accordance with Stalnaker's relevant proof, why a natural strengthening of global supervenience renders it equivalent to strong supervenience. Finally, I argue against Stalnaker about the possibility of a non-reductionist global supervenience. The upshot is that despite appearances, supervenience physicalism is a form of reductive physicalism. (shrink)
Somewhat loose arguments that non-reductive physicalist realism is untenable. Anomalous monism makes the mental irrelevant, functionalism is compatible with species-specific reduction, and supervenience is weak or reductive.
The literature on physicalism often fails to elucidate, I think, what the word physical in physical ism precisely means. Philosophers speak at times of an ideal set of fundamental physical facts, or they stipulate that physical means non-mental , such that all fundamental physical facts are fundamental facts pertaining to the non-mental. In this article, I will probe physicalism in the very much tangible framework of quantum mechanics. Although this theory, unlike “ideal physics” or some “final theory of (...) non-mentality”, is an incomplete theory of the world, I believe this analysis will be of value, if for nothing else, at least for bringing some taste of physical reality, as it were, back to the debate. First, I will introduce a broad characterization of the physicalist credo. In Sect. 2, I will provide a rather quick review of quantum mechanics and some of its current interpretations. In Sect. 3, the notion of quantum non-separability will be analyzed, which will facilitate a discussion of the wave function ontology in Sect. 4. In Sects. 5 and 6, I will explore competing views on the implications of this ontology. In Sect. 7, I will argue that the prior results, based on a thoroughly realist interpretation of quantum mechanics, support only a weak version of non-reductivephysicalism. (shrink)
Many philosophers accept some version of a principle that says for all x, if x exists, then x plays a unique causal role. After briefly clarifying one version of the principle in Section 1, Section 2 gives reasons to doubt it by showing that there are non-identical “causal indiscernibles”—I call them “married causes.” Section 3 then sketches a few philosophical puzzles for which married causes may be helpful.
A great deal has been written over the past decade defending ‘higher-level’ causes by arguing that overdetermination is more complex than many philosophers initially thought. Although two shooters overdetermine the death of a firing squad victim, a baseball and its parts do not overdetermine the breaking of a window. But while these analyses of overdetermination have no doubt been fruitful, the focus on overdetermination—while ignoring other varieties of causal relation—has limited the discussion. Many of the cases of interest resemble joint (...) causes or a cause necessitating a simultaneous epiphenomenon as much as they resemble overdeterminers. If we are to fully understand higher-level causation, we need to distinguish it from these causal relations as well. This paper is dedicated to the task, focusing especially on the ‘threat’ that higher-level causes are epiphenomena necessitated by lower-level causes. (shrink)
Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behavioural dispositions. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, no less existent than the unobservable entities and properties in the natural sciences, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has long gone out of fashion in psychology and linguistics, it remains influential in economics, especially in `revealed preference' theory. We aim to (i) clear up some common confusions (...) about the two views, (ii) situate the debate in a historical context, and (iii) defend a mentalist approach to economics. Setting aside normative concerns about behaviourism, we show that mentalism is in line with best scientific practice even if economics is treated as a purely positive science of economic behaviour. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of people's brain processes, as distinct from their mental states. (shrink)
Metaphysical and epistemological dualism informs much contemporary discussion of the relationships of science and religion, in particular in relation to the neurosciences and the religious understanding of the human person. This dualism is a foundational artifact of modern culture; however, contemporary scientific research and historical theological scholarship encourage a more holistic view wherein human personhood is most fittingly understood as an emergent phenomenon of, but not simply reducible to, evolutionary and developmental neurobiology.
Non-reductive moral realism is the view that there are moral properties which cannot be reduced to natural properties. If moral properties exist, it is plausible that they strongly supervene on non-moral properties- more specifically, on mental, social, and biological properties. There may also be good reasons for thinking that moral properties are irreducible. However, strong supervenience and irreducibility seem incompatible. Strong supervenience entails that there is an enormous number of modal truths (specifically, truths about exactly which non-moral properties necessitate (...) which moral properties); and all these modal truths must be explained. If these modal truths can all be explained, then it must be a fundamental truth about the essence of each moral property that the moral property is necessarily equivalent to some property that can be specified purely in mental, social and biological terms; and this fundamental truth appears to be a reduction of the moral property in question. The best way to resist this argument is by resorting to the claim that mental and social properties are not, strictly speaking, natural properties, but are instead properties that can only be analysed in partly normative terms. Acceptance of that claim is the price of non-reductive moral realism. (shrink)
The importance of the exclusion argument for contemporary physicalism is emphasized. The recent attempts to vindicate reductive physicalism by invoking certain needed revisions to the Nagelian model of reduction are then discussed. It is argued that such revised views of reduction offer in fact much less help to reductive physicalism than is sometimes supposed, and that many of these views lead to trouble when combined with the exclusion argument.
Jonathan Schaffer (2004 ) proposes an ingenious amendment to David Lewis's semantics for counterfactuals. This amendment explicitly invokes the notion of causal independence, thus giving up Lewis's ambitions for a reductive counterfactual account of causation. But in return, it rescues Lewis's semantics from extant counterexamples. I present a new counterexample that defeats even Schaffer's amendment. Further, I argue that a better approach would be to follow the causal modelling literature and evaluate counterfactuals via an explicit postulated causal structure. This alternative (...) approach easily resolves the new counterexample, as well as all the previous ones. Up to now, its perceived drawback relative to Lewis's scheme has been its non-reductiveness. But since the same drawback applies equally to Schaffer's amended scheme, this becomes no longer a point of comparative disadvantage. (shrink)
It is difficult to wander far in contemporary metaphysics without bumping into talk of possible worlds. And, reference to possible worlds is not confined to metaphysics. It can be found in contemporary epistemology and ethics, and has even made its way into linguistics and decision theory. What are those possible worlds, the entities to which theorists in these disciplines all appeal? Some have hoped that a theory of possible worlds can be used to reduce modality to non-modal terms. This paper (...) sets reductive theories aside, and articulates and applies a framework for evaluating non-reductive theories of possible worlds. I argue that, if we abjure reduction, we should aim for a theory of possible worlds that is user-friendly. I then outline four leading contemporary theories and consider objections to each. My conclusions are negative: every theory we discuss fails to be user-friendly in some significant respect. (shrink)
This paper is an overview of recent discussions concerning the mind–body problem that have been taking place at the interface between philosophy and neuroscience. In it I focus on phenomenal consciousness or “qualia”, which I distinguish from various related issues (sections 1-2). I then discuss various influential skeptical arguments that question the possibility of reductive explanations of qualia in physicalist terms: knowledge arguments, conceivability arguments, the argument from multiple realizability and the explanatory gap argument. None of the arguments is found (...) entirely convincing (section 3). It does not necessarily follow that reductive physicalism is the only option, but it is defensible. However, constant conceptual and methodological reflection is required alongside ongoing research, to keep such a view free from dogmatism and naivety (section 4). (shrink)
Why do agent-relative reasons have authority over us, reflective creatures? Reductive accounts base the normativity of agent-relative reasons on agent-neutral considerations like having parents caring especially for their own children serves best the interests of all children. Such accounts, however, beg the question about the source of normativity of agent-relative ways of reason-giving. In this paper, I argue for a non-reductive account of the reflective necessity of agent-relative concerns. Such an account will reveal an important structural complexity of practical (...) reasoning in general. Christine Korsgaard relates the rational binding force of practical reasons to the various identities or self-conceptions under which we value ourselves. The problem is that it is not clear why such self-conceptions would necessitate us rationally, given the fact that most of our identities are simply given. Perhaps, Harry Frankfurt is right in arguing that we are not only necessitated by reason, but also, and predominantly by what we love. I argue, however, that the necessities of love (in Frankfurts phrase) are not to be separated from, but should be seen as belonging to the necessities of reason. Our loves, concerns and related identities provide for a specific and important structure to practical reflection. They function on the background of reasoning, having a specific default role: they would lose their character as concerns, if there was a need for them to be cited on the foreground of deliberation or if there was a need to justify them. This does not mean that our deep concerns cannot be scrutinised. They can only be scrutinised in an indirect way, however, which explains their role in grounding the normativity of agent-relative reasons. It appears that this account can provide for a viable interpretation of Korsgaards argument about the foundational role of practical identities. (shrink)
This article engages with the philosophical reflections of the French historian of science Hélène Metzger (1886–1944) in order to develop a vocabulary for understanding the rise of non-reductive Continental naturalism in the contemporary humanities. The bibliography of current naturalist approaches in the arts and the human sciences is still in the making, but it is altogether clear that the trend is not scientist or historicist or relativist. This epistemological diagnosis refers us to Metzger, who found herself surrounded with the (...) logical positivism of the Wiener Kreis, on the one hand, and the historicism of her French colleagues, on the other, as well as with the infiltration of the history of science by a chronological empiricism. In this article I will take the most recent book of Vicki Kirby – Quantum Anthropologies: Life at Large from 2011 – as an exemplary case of non-reductive Continental naturalist scholarship in the humanities today and by reading it through the concepts of Metzger, I will demonstrate how this type of research leads to refreshing insights in what constitutes positive humanities knowledge and what is the role of the a priori in the field. (shrink)
While there are reasons to believe that both component forces and a resultant force operate on a body in combined circumstances, the threat of overdetermination largely prevents adoption of this view. Accordingly, a lively debate has arisen over which force actually exists and which force is eliminated in combined circumstances, the components or the resultant. In this article I present a non-reductive model of resultant force which ensures the existence of both the resultant force and the component forces without (...) overdetermination. According to the non-reductive model, the resultant force is the summation of component forces, where summation is interpreted as meaning that the component forces, when temporally and spatially overlapping, form a superposed mixture which is the resultant force, but which is not identical to the conjunction of component forces taken with temporal and spatial independence. (shrink)
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. (...) This way of drawing the distinction succeeds where previous approaches have failed and illuminates why the debate about reductionism is important. (shrink)
My aim in this thesis is to explain how a non-reductionist metaphysics can accommodate the causal relevance of the psychological and of the special sciences generally. According to physicalism, all behavior is caused by brain-states; given "folk-psychology", behavior (such as the waving of my hand) is caused by some psychological state. If psychological states are distinct from brain states (event dualism), then our behavior is overdetermined and this, it is claimed, is unacceptable. I argue that this consequence is not (...) unacceptable. I claim that our explanatory practice should guide our ontological commitment. If we can offer true explanations that appeal to more than one event (or property), then we are committed to overdetermination for the event explained. I argue that accepting overdetermination is not absurd and that we can give an adequate account of causal relevance for psychological and other supervenient properties. The result is a partial defense of both property and event pluralism. Recent work by Davidson, Fodor, Jackson, Kim, Pettit and Yablo receives explicit and critical discussion. (shrink)
Major strands of the history of scientific psychology proposed less mechanistic explanations of behavior than the “series of billiard ball reactions” that Ellis ascribes to them. I tease apart psychological systems based on hedonism and those based on stimulus-response mechanisms-and then tease apart basic hedonism and drive-reduction hedonism, to layout psychological and neuroscientific foundations for the active, dynamic, cognitive, emotive, and "spiritual" dynamics of human nature which Ellis calls us to affirm. I trace these distinctions through the drive-reduction psychoanalysis of (...) Freud, the drive-reduction behaviorism of Hull, and the non-drive-reductive hedonistic system of Skinner. Then I trace the recent neuroscience of reward and punishment circuits and putative narcissistic and altruistic circuits, to conclude that Behaviorism and Neuroscience support broad hedonistic but major non-drive-reduction motivational systems. I affirm Ellis’ contention that emotions are basically “active”, although with some caveats and questions. (shrink)
Horgan claims that physicalism requires "superdupervenience" -- supervenience plus robust ontological explanation of the supervenient in terms of the base properties. I argue that Horgan's account fails to rule out physically unacceptable emergence. I rather suggest that this and other unacceptable possibilities may be ruled out by requiring that each individual causal power in the set associated with a given supervenient property be numerically identical with a causal power in the set associated with its base property. I go on (...) to show that a wide variety of physicalist accounts, both reductive and non-reductive, are implicitly or explicitly designed to meet this condition, and so are more similar than they seem. In particular, non-reductivephysicalism accounts typically appeal to a relation plausibly ensuring that the powers of a higher-level property are a proper subset of those of its physical base property. (shrink)
Abstract Non-reductivephysicalism is currently the most widely held metaphysic of mind. My aim in this essay is to show that supervenience physicalism?perhaps the most common form of non-reductivephysicalism?is not a defensible position. I argue that, in order for any supervenience thesis to ground a legitimate form of physicalism, it must yield the right sort of determination relation between physical and non-physical properties. Then I argue that non-reductionism leaves one without any explanation for (...) the laws that are implied by supervenience theses that deliver this determination relation. (shrink)
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 that the physical is non-mental is irrelevant to the task of formulating physicalism as a substantive, controversial thesis. (shrink)
While concerns of the mental being causally excluded by the physical have persistently plagued non-reductivephysicalism, 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-reductivephysicalism in avoiding the causal exclusion of the mental. In particular, I focus on Jaegwon Kim’s influential version of the causal exclusion argument, namely, his supervenience argument. I argue that type physicalism’s advantage is undermined by the following two things: (1) the generalizability of the supervenience argument, and (2) type physicalism’s incompatibility with mental properties at the fundamental level. This involves evaluating the generalization objection to the supervenience argument, probing the metaphysics of physicalism, and showing how (1) and (2) combine in a way that appears underappreciated given the general confidence in type physicalism’s advantage. (shrink)