Non-reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom


Authors
Jessica Wilson
University of Missouri, St. Louis
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.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axp040
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References found in this work BETA

Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Essays on Actions and Events. Clarendon Press. pp. 207-224.
Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (223):306-310.

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Citations of this work BETA

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.
Science, Substance and Spatial Appearances.Thomas Raleigh - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-18.
Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):17-40.
The Unity and Priority Arguments for Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Basinstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 171-204.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

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