Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (9-10):1-34 (2001)

Robert Van Gulick
Syracuse University
Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind /body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more dualistic or that bring in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it
Keywords Emergence  Metaphysics  Mind-body  Philosophy  Reduction
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 61,064
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Construction Area (No Hard Hat Required).Karen Bennett - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (1):79-104.
Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong.Jessica Wilson - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wuthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. pp. 251-306.
Emergence: Core Ideas and Issues.Jaegwon Kim - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):547-559.
Emergent Properties.Hong Yu Wong - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The curious case of spacetime emergence.Sam Baron - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2207-2226.

View all 48 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Crane on the Mind-Body Problem and Emergence.Olga Markić - 2004 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):199-205.
Scientific Reduction and the Mind-Body Problem.Laurence F. Mucciolo - 1974 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy (Suppl.) 185 (2):185-204.
Emergence and the Mind-Body Problem.Michael Silberstein - 1998 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (4):464-82.
Emergent Properties, Persons, and the Mind-Body Problem.David H. Jones - 1972 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):423-33.
Mind-Body, Body-Mind: Two Distinct Problems.Benny Shanon - 2008 - Philosophical Psychology 21 (5):697 – 701.
Chaos, Emergence, and the Mind-Body Problem.David V. Newman - 2001 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (2):180-96.


Added to PP index

Total views
508 ( #14,071 of 2,439,610 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #51,189 of 2,439,610 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes