This paper discusses and evaluates a recent argument for the conclusion that an attractive variety of Russellian monism ought to be regarded as a form of physicalism. According to this line of thought, if the Russellian’s “inscrutable” properties are held to ground not only experience, but also the physical structure of the world—and in this sense are not “experience-specific”—they thereby have an unproblematic place in physicalist metaphysics. I argue, in contrast, that there can be a sense in which the Russellian’s (...) inscrutables are experience-specific in a way that a physicalist probably ought to find objectionable, even if they play some role other than grounding experience. This will be the case, I argue, if certain worlds are taken to be possible, as they sometimes have: worlds of “bare structure” and worlds with what might be called “swapped inscrutables”. In this way, I claim that accepting certain possibilities has consequences for how one should understand the nature of the Russellian’s inscrutables and the place they have in physicalist metaphysics. (shrink)
We develop a reading of Moore’s “Proof of an External World” that emphasizes the connections between this paper and Moore’s earlier concerns and strategies. Our reading has the benefit of explaining why the claims that Moore advances in “Proof of an External World” would have been of interest to him, and avoids attributing to him arguments that are either trivial or wildly unsuccessful. Part of the evidence for our view comes from unpublished drafts which, we believe, contain important clues concerning (...) Moore’s aims and intent. While our approach to PEW may be classified alongside other broadly "metaphysical" readings, we believe that a proper recognition of the continuity in Moore’s philosophical concerns and strategies across his philosophical career shows that the customary distinction between "epistemological" and "metaphysical" interpretative approaches to PEW is at best superficial. (shrink)
It is plausible to think that the epistemic benefit of having an explanation is understanding. My focus in this article is on the extent to which explanatory understanding, perhaps unlike knowledge, is compatible with certain forms of luck—the extent to which one can understand why something is the case when one is lucky to truly believe an explanatorily relevant proposition. I argue, contra Stephen Grimm () and Duncan Pritchard (, ), that understanding quite generally is compatible with luckily believing a (...) true, explanatorily relevant proposition. My strategy is to argue that various intuitions that seem to rule against lucky understanding can be explained away, and thus do not compel us to reject the thesis that, in general, understanding tolerates luck. In arriving at this conclusion, I address some salient issues regarding the testimony of others, and also draw out the consequences of my discussions for the status of understanding as a cognitive achievement. (shrink)
Panpsychism has often been motivated on the grounds that any attempt to account for experience and consciousness in organisms in purely physical, nonexperiential terms faces severe difficulties. The “combination problem” charges that attributing phenomenal properties to the basic constituents of organisms, as panpsychism proposes, likewise fails to provide a satisfactory basis for experience in humans and other organisms. This paper evaluates a recent attempt to understand, and solve, the combination problem. This approach, due to Sam Coleman, is premised on a (...) distinction between mere aggregates and genuine unities, and the purported inability of subjects to constitute a unity. In response, I first argue that it may not be incumbent upon the panpsychist to explain how microphenomenal properties could constitute a unity in the way that Coleman supposes. I then argue that even if such a burden does fall on the panpsychist, it is far from clear that a plurality subjects cannot constitute such a unity. Finally, I argue that if one adopts a functionalist account of macrosubjects, as Coleman does, there is little reason to think that a plurality of subjects could not constitute a macrosubject. In these ways, I argue that the force of the combination problem does not turn on whether microphenomenal properties require minds or subjects that have them. (shrink)
Realization can be roughly understood as a kind of role-playing, a relationship between a property that plays a role and a property characterized by that role. This rough sketch previously received only moderate elaboration; recently, however, several substantive theories of realization have been proposed. But are there any general constraints on a theory of realization? What is a theory of realization supposed to accomplish? I first argue that a view of realization is viable, in part, to the extent that physical (...) realization under that view explains or accounts for why instances of realized properties are necessitated by how things are physically in a modally strong sense. In this sense, I claim that physical realization should explain physical supervenience. I then call into question two alternative desiderata and raise a challenge for attempts to explicate realization in terms of isomorphism or analogy. Finally, I explain how a causal-functional account of realization, as well as less demanding accounts, can meet the preferred desideratum. (shrink)
This paper considers the extent to which the notion of truthmaking can play a substantive role in defining physicalism. While a truthmaking-based approach to physicalism is prima facie attractive, there is some reason to doubt that truthmaking can do much work when it comes to understanding physicalism, and perhaps austere metaphysical frameworks in general. First, despite promising to dispense with higher-level properties and states, truthmaking appears to make little progress on issues concerning higher-level items and how they are related to (...) how things are physically. Second, it seems that truthmaking-based approaches to physicalism will have a difficult time addressing the status of truthmaking itself without, in effect, appealing to the resources of alternative ways of conceptualizing physicalism. (shrink)
Defenders of the subset view of realization have claimed that we can resolve well-known worries about mental-physical causal overdetermination by holding that mental properties are subset realized by physical properties, that instances of subset realized properties are parts of physical realizers, and that part-whole overdetermination is unproblematic. I challenge the claim that the overdetermination generated by the subset view can be legitimated by appealing to more mundane part-whole overdetermination. I conclude that the subset view does not provide a unique solution (...) to overdetermination worries. (shrink)
This critical discussion of Michael Pelczar's Sensorama (OUP, 2015)raises several interrelated issues about Pelczar's phenomenalism that arise from its commitment to ungrounded experiential conditionals reflecting what experiences there would be, were there other experiences.
A physicalist holds, in part, that what properties are instantiated depends on what physical properties are instantiated; a physicalist thinks that mental properties, for example, are instantiated in virtue of the instantiation of physical “realizer” properties. One issue that arises in this context concerns the relationship between the “causal powers” of instances of physical properties and instances of dependent properties, properties that are instantiated in virtue of the instantiation of physical properties. After explaining the significance of this issue, I evaluate (...) two core lines of thought that have been advanced in favor of Subset Inheritance, the view that instances of dependent properties typically have some, but not all, of the powers of physical realizers, and do not have any powers that are not also powers of physical realizers. The first argument that I address turns on our intuitive reactions to certain cases; the second appeals to the phenomenon of multiple realization. I argue that neither line of thought succeeds, and thus that insofar as we grant that an instance of a dependent property inherits some of the powers of its physical realizer, defenders of subset inheritance have not provided a compelling reason to think that it will not inherit all of the powers of its physical realizer. (shrink)
Was Descartes a Cartesian Dualist? In this controversial study, Gordon Baker and Katherine J. Morris argue that, despite the general consensus within philosophy, Descartes was neither a proponent of dualism nor guilty of the many crimes of which he has been accused by twentieth century philosophers. In lively and engaging prose, Baker and Morris present a radical revision of the ways in which Descartes' work has been interpreted. Descartes emerges with both his historical importance assured and his philosophical importance redeemed.
A prominent objection to supervenience physicalism is that a definition of physicalism in terms of supervenience allows for physicalism to be compatible with nonphysicalist outlooks, such as certain forms of emergentism. I take as my starting point a recent defense of supervenience physicalism from this objection. According to this line of thought, the subvenient base for emergent properties cannot be said to be purely physical; rather, it is “polluted” with emergent features in virtue of necessarily giving rise to them. Thus, (...) if emergentism is true, it is false that everything supervenes on physical properties. I argue that this gives way to a new challenge for supervenience physicalism. The challenge, roughly, is to distinguish the emergentist’s “polluted” base from a physical supervenience base; that is, to give conditions under which the subvenient base is not “polluted” by supervenient properties. The problem, I argue, is that it is hard to see how this can be done without collapsing supervenience physicalism into alternative approaches to physicalism. I thus argue that if the present defense of supervenience physicalism succeeds in defending the adequacy of a supervenience-based definition of physicalism, it does so by compromising its uniqueness. (shrink)
This article considers the recent defense of the supervenience approach to physicalism due to Jaegwon Kim. Kim argues that supervenience supports physical causal closure, and that causal closure supports physicalism – indeed, a kind of reductive physicalism – and thus that supervenience suffices for physicalism. After laying out Kim's argument, I ask whether its success would truly vindicate the role of supervenience in defining physicalist positions. I argue that it would not, and that insofar as Kim's defense of supervenience physicalism (...) succeeds, it does so by showing that supervenience physicalism is not a unique, nonredundant way to be a physicalist. (shrink)
According to a prominent line of thought, we can be physicalists, but not reductive physicalists, by holding that mental and other ‘higher-level’ or ‘nonbasic’ properties — properties that are not obviously physical properties — are all physically realized. Spelling this out requires an account of realization, an account of what it is for one property to realize another. And while several accounts of realization have been advanced in recent years,1 my interest here is in the ‘subset view,’ which has often (...) been invoked explicitly in defense of nonreductive physicalist positions.2 The subset view holds that property realization consists in the powers of one property having as a subset the powers of another; .. (shrink)
In his recent article ‘Consciousness and Reduction’, Ausonio Marras argues that functional reduction must appeal to bridge laws and thus does not represent a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. In response, I first argue that even if functional reduction must use bridge laws, it still represents a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. Further, I argue that Marras does not succeed in showing that functional reduction must use bridge laws. Introduction Nagelian Reduction, Functional Reduction, and Bridge Laws Marras on Functional Reduction (...) The Logical Space of ‘Bridge Law’ Views of Reduction [RP] as an Account of Realization Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Nature and Narrative is the launch volume in a new series of books entitled International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry. The series will aim to build links between the sciences and humanities in psychiatry. Our ability to decipher mental disorders depends to a unique extent on both the sciences and the humanities. Science provides insight into the 'causes' of a problem, enabling us to formulate an 'explanation', and the humanities provide insight into its 'meanings' and helps with our 'understanding'. Psychiatry, (...) if it is to develop as a balanced discipline, must draw on input from both of these spheres. Nature (for causes) and Narrative (for meanings) will help define the series as a whole by touching on a range of issues relevant to this 'border country'. With contributions from an international star-studded cast, representing the field of psychiatry, psychology and philosophy, this volume will set the scene for this new interdisciplinary field. This will be of interest to all those with practical experience of mental health issues, whether as providers or as users/consumers of services, as well as to philosophers, social scientists, and bioethicists. (shrink)
This paper focuses on an influential line of response to the exclusion problem for nonreductive physicalism, one defended with the most subtlety by Karen Bennett. According to this line of thought, a successful nonreductive response to the exclusion problem, a response that allows one to maintain each of the core components of nonreductive physicalism, may consist in showing that the manner in which the effects of mental causes also have distinct and sufficient physical causes is disanalogous to other types of (...) cases in which an effect may have distinct sufficient causes. After laying out the formulation of the problem that Bennett endorses, along with her response to the problem, I offer an initial critique of this response insofar as it is couched in terms of her preferred formulation. I then present a general critique of disanalogy-style responses to the exclusion problem. I argue that extant implementations of this strategy are at best underdeveloped, and suggest that lack of clarity in the use of “overdetermination” may function to mask the shortcomings of this strategy. While others have questioned the details of such responses, the worries that I raise concern the very logic of the exclusion problem and how such responses fit into this logic. (shrink)
A novel introduction to Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist phenomenology. Draws parallels between Sartre’s work and the work of Wittgenstein Stresses continuities rather than conflict between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, and between Sartre and post-structuralist/post-modernist thinkers, thus corroborating ‘new Sartre’ readings Exhibits the influence of Gestalt psychology in Sartre’s descriptions of the life-world Forms part of the _Blackwell Great Minds_ series, which outlines the views of the great western thinkers and captures the relevance of these figures to the way we think and live (...) today. (shrink)
Noonan's arguments against methodological solipsism ("methodological solipsism," "philosophical studies" 4, 1981) assumes that mental states are individuated by (russellian) content; this assumption entails that narrowness and wideness are intrinsic to mental states. I propose an alternative "extrinsic" reading of methodological solipsism, According to which narrowness and wideness are modes of attribution of mental states, And thus reject the doctrine of individuation by russellian content. Noonan's arguments fail against this version of methodological solipsism.
This provocative, engaging and important book marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Peter Winch's seminal The Idea of a Social Science . The authors – the first two philosophers, the third a sociologist – have worked together in various permutations before. No-one familiar with their previous publications will be surprised that the dominant voice throughout is Wittgenstein's – that is, Wittgenstein as read ‘resolutely’ by ‘new Wittgensteinians’. They have three principal aims: first, to read Winch's own work in (...) an equally ‘resolute’ way; hence to read ISS as prophylactic and therapeutic in intention, and not as heralding a wonderful or not-so-wonderful new social theory; secondly, to defend Winch against certain persistent charges; and thirdly, to persuade social theorists and philosophers of ‘social science’ that Winch's therapeutic lessons have not yet been assimilated, with the possible exception of a handful of ethnographers and ethnomethodologists.Following a substantial introductory section, Chapters 1 and 2 – respectively, entitled ‘Beyond pluralism, monism, relativism, realism etc.: reassessing Peter Winch’ and ‘Winch and linguistic idealism’ – argue that Winch cannot be seen as an advocate of linguistic idealism or “any of the other ‘isms’ that have been reactively bandied about …. (shrink)