What is physicalism?

Ratio 22 (3):291-307 (2009)
Abstract
Although 'most contemporary analytic philosophers [endorse] a physicalist picture of the world' (A. Newen; V. Hoffmann; M. Esfeld, 'Preface to Mental Causation, Externalism and Self-Knowledge', Erkenntnis , 67 (2007), p. 147), it is unclear what exactly the physicalist thesis states. The response that physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical does not solve the problem but is a precise statement of the problem because 'the claim is hopelessly vague' (G. Hellman; F. Thompson, 'Physicalism: Ontology, Determination, and Reduction', Journal of Philosophy , 72 (1975), p. 552). I argue that physicalism in fact should be the thesis that every existing particular essentially exemplifies properties the exemplification of which does not conceptually entail the existence of conscious beings. Physicalism thus is a purely philosophical thesis with no intrinsic relation to physics. 1.
Keywords Physicalism  Physics  physical properties
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2009.00433.x
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