Supervenience and Materialism

Avebury (1995)
This article argues that weak supervenience is sufficiently strong to establish a reasonable and plausible materialism. Supervenience is a relation between families of properties, Such that, Roughly speaking, Family a supervenes on family b if any objects which are indiscernible with respect to b are thereby indiscernible with respect to a. Weak supervenience is supervenience restricted to one possible world; strong supervenience is a "necessary" supervenience extending across some principled set of possible worlds. These notions are made somewhat more rigorous following jaegwon kim's development of them. Kim has argued that only strong supervenience can ground a 'robust' materialism, So the article begins by criticizing his arguments for this position. It argues that any form of strong supervenience is in fact too strong to characterize materialism as it is normally conceived, For materialism is neither logically nor physically necessary. But the day is saved as weak supervenience can be shown to be just sufficiently strong to ground materialism. In particular, It is shown that supervenience can support counterfactuals without requiring any notion of "necessary" supervenience
Keywords Logic  Materialism  Metaphysics  Reductionism  Supervenience  Kim, J
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