Physicalism, Teleology and the Miraculous Coincidence Problem

Philosophical Quarterly 49 (195):164-181 (1999)


I focus on Fodor’s model of the relationship between special sciences and basic physics, and on a criticism of this model, that it implies that the causal stability of, e.g., the mental in its production of behaviour is nothing short of a miraculous coincidence. David Papineau and Graham Macdonaldendorse this criticism. But it is far less clear than they assume that Fodor’s picture indeed involves coincidences, which in any case their injection of a teleological supplement cannot explain. Papineau’s and Macdonald’s problem is subtly different from a similar one presented by Adrian Cussins. This is no more effective against Fodor’s picture, but the kind of account of the relation between the physical and the psychological which could constitute a solution to Cussins’ problem is one which, for independent reasons, a physicalist of Fodor’s stripe ought to provide

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