Non-reductive physicalism and degrees of freedom

Authors
Jessica Wilson
University of Toronto, St. George
Abstract
Some claim that Non- reductive Physicalism is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism, or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety. 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 their composing physical 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 their composing physical entities—provide a basis for making sense of how certain special science entities can be both physically acceptable and ontologically irreducible to physical entities
Keywords nonreductive physicalism  non-reductive physicalism  degrees of freedom  emergence  weak emergence
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axp040
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References found in this work BETA

Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Determination, Realization and Mental Causation.Jessica Wilson - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):149-169.
On Characterizing the Physical.Jessica Wilson - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 131 (1):61-99.

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Citations of this work BETA

Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):17-40.
An Explication of Emergence.Elanor Taylor - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):653-669.
Emergence in Effective Field Theories.Jonathan Bain - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):257-273.

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