Physicalism about the Mind

Edited by István Aranyosi (Bilkent University)
Assistant editor: Zili Dong (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. Was Tarski's Theory of Truth Motivated by Physicalism?Greg Frost-Arnold - 2004 - History and Philosophy of Logic 25 (4):265-280.
    Many commentators on Alfred Tarski have, following Hartry Field, claimed that Tarski's truth-definition was motivated by physicalism—the doctrine that all facts, including semantic facts, must be reducible to physical facts. I claim, instead, that Tarski did not aim to reduce semantic facts to physical ones. Thus, Field's criticism that Tarski's truth-definition fails to fulfill physicalist ambitions does not reveal Tarski to be inconsistent, since Tarski's goal is not to vindicate physicalism. I argue that Tarski's only published remarks that speak approvingly (...)
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  2. Reply to Child.Tim Crane - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (1):103-108.
    In ‘The Mental Causation Debate’ (1995), I pointed out the parallel between the premises in some traditional arguments for physicalism and the assumptions which give rise to the problem of mental causation. I argued that the dominant contemporary version of physicalism finds mental causation problematic because it accepts the main premises of the traditional arguments, but rejects their conclusion: the identification of mental with physical causes. Moreover, the orthodox way of responding to this problem (which I call the ‘constitution view’) (...)
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  3. The Introspectibility of Brain States as Such.Pete Mandik - 2006 - In Brian Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Is the Introspection Thesis true? It certainly isn’t obvious. Introspection is the faculty by which each of us has access to his or her own mental states. Even if we were to suppose that mental states are identical to brain states, it doesn’t follow immediately from this supposition that we can introspect our mental states as brain states. This point is analogous to the following. It doesn’t follow immediately from the mere fact that some distant object is identical to a (...)
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  4. Two Views of Realization.Robert A. Wilson - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 104 (1):1-31.
    This paper examines the standard view of realization operative incontemporary philosophy of mind, and proposes an alternative, generalperspective on realization. The standard view can be expressed, insummary form, as the conjunction of two theses, the sufficiency thesis andthe constitutivity thesis. Physicalists of both reductionist and anti-reductionist persuasions share a conception of realization wherebyrealizations are determinative of the properties they realize and physically constitutive of the individuals with those properties. Centralto the alternative view that I explore here is the idea that (...)
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Formulating Physicalism
  1. Conservation of a Circle Explains (the Human) Mind.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
    Conservation of a circle explains (the human) mind.
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  2. The Fundamentality of Physics: Completeness or Maximality.Alyssa Ney - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    There is a standard way of interpreting physicalism. This is as a completeness thesis of some kind. Completeness physicalists believe there is or in principle could be some future physics that provides a complete explanatory or ontological basis for our universe. And this provides a sense in which physics is special among the sciences, the sense in which it is fundamental. This paper contrasts this standard completeness physicalism with what is a more plausible maximality physicalism. Maximality physicalists believe physics is (...)
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  3. Denialism: What Do the so-Called Consciousness Deniers Deny?Orly Shenker - 2020 - Iyyun 68:307-337.
    Some philosophers consider that some of their colleagues deny that consciousness exists. We shall call the latter ‘deniers’, adopting a term that was initially meant pejoratively. What do the deniers deny? In order to answer this question, we shall examine arguments, both of some deniers and of their critics, and present denialism as a systematic highly non-trivial position that has had some interesting achievements. We will show that the denialist project concerns the epistemology of the mind and specifically of consciousness: (...)
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  4. Russellian Physicalism and its Dilemma.Lok-Chi Chan - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Russellian monism – an influential doctrine proposed by Russell (1927/1992) – is roughly the view that the natural sciences can only ever tell us about the causal, dispositional, and structural properties of physical entities and not about their categorical properties, and, moreover, that our qualia are constituted by categorical properties. Recently, Stoljar (2001a, 2001b), Strawson (2008), Montero (2010, 2015), Alter and Nagasawa (2012), and Chalmers (2015) have attempted to develop this doctrine into a version of physicalism. Russellian monism faces the (...)
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  5. Hempel’s Dilemma.Daniel Stoljar - 2009 - In Heather Dyke (ed.), From Truth to Reality: New Essays in Logic and Metaphysics. New York, NY, USA:
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  6. Physicalism.Amanda Bryant - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 484-500.
    This chapter considers potential applications of grounding to the formulation of physicalism. I begin with an overview of competing conceptions of the physical and of physicalism. I then consider whether grounding physicalism overcomes well-known and seemingly fatal problems with supervenience physicalism. I conclude that while grounding physicalism improves upon supervenience physicalism in certain respects, it arguably falls victim to some of the same difficulties.
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  7. On Characterising Metaphysical Naturalism.Lok-Chi Chan - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind 1.
    The disciplinary characterisation (DC) is the most popular approach to defining metaphysical naturalism and physicalism. It defines metaphysical naturalism with reference to scientific theories and defines physicalism with reference to physical theories, and suggests that every entity that exists is a posited entity of these theories. DC has been criticised for its inability to solve Hempel’s dilemma and a list of problems alike. In this paper, I propose and defend a novel version of DC that can be called a historical (...)
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  8. Introduction: The Character of Physicalism.Andreas Elpidorou - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):435-455.
    The aim of this editorial introduction is twofold. First, Sects. 1–8 offer a critical introduction to the metaphysical character of physicalism. In those sections, I present and evaluate different ways in which proponents of physicalism have made explicit the metaphysical dependence that is said to hold between the non-physical and the physical. Some of these accounts are found to be problematic; others are shown to be somewhat more promising. In the end, some important lessons are drawn and different options for (...)
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  9. Recent Work on Physicalism.Justin Tiehen - forthcoming - Analysis.
    A review of recent work on physicalism, focusing on what it means to say nothing exists over and above the physical, how "the physical" should be defined, and the causal argument for physicalism.
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  10. Physicalism and the Mind.Robert Francescotti - 2014 - Dordrecht: Springer.
    This book addresses a tightly knit cluster of questions in the philosophy of mind. There is the question: Are mental properties identical with physical properties? An affirmative answer would seem to secure the truth of physicalism regarding the mind, i.e., the belief that all mental phenomena obtain solely in virtue of physical phenomena. If the answer is negative, then the question arises: Can this solely in virtue of relation be understood as some kind of dependence short of identity? And answering (...)
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  11. Mind, Modality, and Meaning: Toward a Rationalist Physicalism.Gabriel Oak Rabin - 2013 - Dissertation, University of California Los Angeles
    This dissertation contains four independent essays addressing a cluster of related topics in the philosophy of mind. Chapter 1: “Fundamentality Physicalism” argues that physicalism can usefully be conceived of as a thesis about fundamentality. The chapter explores a variety of other potential formulations of physicalism (particularly modal formulations), contrasts fundamentality physicalism with these theses, and offers reasons to prefer fundamentality physicalism over these rivals. Chapter 2:“Modal Rationalism and the Demonstrative Reply to the Master Argument Against Physicalism” introduces the Master Argument (...)
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  12. Physicalism, Psychism, and Phenomenalism.Lei Zhong - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (11):572-590.
    The dominant way to define physical entities is by appeal to ideal physics (as opposed to current physics). However, it has been worried that physicalism understood in terms of ideal physics would be too liberal to rule out “psychism”, the view that mentality exists at the fundamental metaphysical level. In this article, I argue that whereas physicalism is incompatible with some psychist cases, such as the case of “phenomenalism” in which ideal physics adopts mental concepts to denote fundamental entities, physicalism (...)
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  13. What Physical Properties Are.David Spurrett - 2001 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (2):201-225.
    This paper concerns the question of how to specify what is to count as physical for the purposes of debates concerning either physicalism or the completeness of physics. I argue that what is needed from an account of the physical depends primarily on the particular issue at stake, and that the demand for a general a priori specification of the physical is misplaced. A number of attempts to say what should be counted as physical are defended from recent attacks by (...)
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  14. How Far Can the Physical Sciences Reach?Robert Schroer - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (3):253.
    To put it bluntly, Physicalism is the thesis that everything that exists is physical. Although Physicalism enjoys a great deal of popularity, two widely accepted theses, the physical sciences only tell us about the dispositional properties of the objects they study, and dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties, seem to guarantee that, under some sense of the word, the physical sciences are fated to give us an "incomplete" picture of what exists.In what follows, this challenge to Physicalism will be referred (...)
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  15. The Chaology of Mind.Adam Morton - 1988 - Analysis 48 (3):135.
    I explore the possibility that mentality can be characterized as a level in between the functional and the neurological, namely as a physical system exhibiting a specific kind of chaos. The argument is meant to make a case for this kind of characterization rather than giving one in specific detail.
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  16. The Problem of Extras and the Contingency of Physicalism.Robert Francescotti - 2014 - Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):241-254.
    Perhaps all concrete phenomena obtain solely in virtue of physical phenomena. Even so, it seems that the world could have been otherwise. It seems that physicalism, if true, is contingently true. In fact, many believe that the actual truth of physicalism allows metaphysically possible worlds duplicating the actual world in all physical respects while containing immaterial extras, e.g. ghosts, spirits, or Cartesian souls, that no physicalist would believe actually exist. Here I focus on physicalism regarding mentality and argue that the (...)
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  17. Physicalism, Not Scientism.Alyssa Ney - forthcoming - In Jeroen de Ridder, Rik Peels & Rene van Woudenberg (eds.), Scientism: Prospects and Problems. Oxford University Press.
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  18. "Physicalism: The Philosophical Foundations" by Jeffrey Poland. [REVIEW]Tim Crane - 1995 - The Times Literary Supplement 4831.
    The Reverend Anthony Freeman gained a brief moment of fame last year when he lost his parish because his bishop took him to be an unbeliever. The British national newspapers enjoyed the spectacle of an ‘atheist vicar’ for a while; however, Mr Freeman himself always denied that he was an atheist. One paper reported an interview with his local parish magazine, where Mr Freeman was asked directly whether he believed in God. Mr Freeman replied that of course he did, but (...)
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  19. Physicalism and Supervenience: A Case for a New Sense of Physical Duplication.Michael Roche - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (4):669-681.
    Physicalism is the view, roughly, that everything is physical. This thesis is often characterized in terms of a particular supervenience thesis. Central to this thesis is the idea of physical duplication. I argue that the standard way of understanding physical duplication leads—along with other claims—to a sub-optimal consequence for the physicalist. I block this consequence by shifting to an alternative sense of physical duplication. I then argue that physicalism is best characterized by a supervenience thesis that employs both the new (...)
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  20. Physicalism Requires Functionalism: A New Formulation and Defense of the Via Negativa.Justin Tiehen - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (1):3-24.
    How should ‘the physical’ be defined for the purpose of formulating physicalism? In this paper I defend a version of the via negativa according to which a property is physical just in case it is neither fundamentally mental nor possibly realized by a fundamentally mental property. The guiding idea is that physicalism requires functionalism, and thus that being a type identity theorist requires being a realizer-functionalist. In §1 I motivate my approach partly by arguing against Jessica Wilson's no fundamental mentality (...)
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  21. Worlds 3 Popper 0. [REVIEW]Ray Scott Percival - 1995 - New Scientist (19th May).
    THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM: A GUIDE TO THE CURRENT DEBATE (EDITED BY RICHARD WARNER AND TA D E U S Z SZUBKA) contains recent essays by the key players in the the field of the Mind-Body problem: Searle, Fodor, Problem Honderich, Nagel, McGinn, Stich, Rorty and others. But there are a few interesting exceptions, for example Edelman, Popper, Putnam and Dennett. Nevertheless, these thinkers do get a mention here and there, and nearly all the exciting topical issues are dealt with, including (...)
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  22. A Note on the Definition of Physicalism.Ben Blumson & Weng Hong Tang - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):10-18.
    Physicalism is incompatible with what is known as the possibility of zombies, that is, the possibility of a world physically like ours, but in which there are no conscious experiences. But it is compatible with what is known as the possibility of ghosts, that is, the possibility of a world which is physically like ours, but in which there are additional nonphysical entities. In this paper we argue that a revision to the traditional definition of physicalism designed to accommodate the (...)
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  23. Physicalism.Graham Oppy - 2001 - Pli 12:14-32.
    This paper is a discussion of the analysis of physicalism.
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  24. Emergence From What? A Transcendental Understanding of the Place of Consciousness.Kim Davies - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (5-6):10-32.
    This paper argues that the standard formulations of the question of how consciousness emerges, both synchronically and diachronically, from the physical world necessarily use a concept of the physical without either a clear grasp of the concept or an understanding of the necessary conditions of its possibility. This concept will be elucidated and some of the necessary conditions of its possibility explored, clarifying the place of the mental and the physical as abstractions from the totality of an agent engaged in (...)
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  25. Physicalism and the Part-Whole Relation.Andreas Hüttemann - 2016 - In Christian Wüthrich & Tomasz Bigaj (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Leiden, Niederlande: pp. 323-344.
    In this paper I intend to analyse whether a certain kind of physicalism (part-wholephysicalism)is supported by what classical mechanics and quantum mechanics have to say about the part whole relation. I will argue that not even the most likely candidates – namely cases of microexplanation of the dynamics of compound systems – provide evidence for part whole-physicalism, i.e. the thesis that the behaviour of the compound obtains in virtue of the behaviour of the parts. Physics does not dictate part-whole-physicalism.
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  26. The Canberra Plan Neglects Ground.Ned Block - 2015 - In Terence Horgan, Marcelo Sabates & David Sosa (eds.), Qualia and Mental Causation in a Physical World: Themes from the Philosophy of Jaegwon Kim,. Cambridge University Press. pp. 105-133.
    This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...)
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  27. Weak Physicalism and Special Science Ontology.James Ladyman - 2009 - In Hieke Alexander & Leitgeb Hannes (eds.), Reduction, Abstraction, Analysis. Ontos Verlag. pp. 11--113.
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  28. There is No Question of Physicalism.Tim Crane & D. H. Mellor - 1995 - In Paul K. Moser & J. D. Trout (eds.), Contemporary Materialism: A Reader. London: Routledge. pp. 65.
    Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences...
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  29. Why Materialism as a Theory Fails?R. Nath - 2006 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 33 (2):195.
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  30. Physicalism.Daniel Stoljar - 2010 - Routledge.
    Physicalism, the thesis that everything is physical, is one of the most controversial problems in philosophy. Its adherents argue that there is no more important doctrine in philosophy, whilst its opponents claim that its role is greatly exaggerated. In this superb introduction to the problem Daniel Stoljar focuses on three fundamental questions: the interpretation, truth and philosophical significance of physicalism. In answering these questions he covers the following key topics: -/- (i)A brief history of physicalism and its definitions, (ii)what a (...)
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  31. Grounding Explanations.Louis deRosset - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face (...)
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  32. Type Physicalism and Causal Exclusion.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:405-418.
    While concerns of the mental being causally excluded by the physical have persistently plagued non-reductive physicalism, such concerns are standardly taken to pose no problem for reductive type physicalism. Type physicalists have the obvious advantage of being able to countenance the reduction of mental properties to their physical base properties by way of type identity, thereby avoiding any causal competition between instances of mental properties and their physical bases. Here, I challenge this widely accepted advantage of type physicalism over non-reductive (...)
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  33. Careful, Physicalists: Mind–Body Supervenience Can Be Too Superduper.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2013 - Theoria 79 (1):8-21.
    It has become evident that mind–body supervenience, as merely specifying a covariance between mental and physical properties, is consistent with clearly non-physicalist views of the mental, such as emergentism. Consequently, there is a push in the physicalist camp for an ontologically more robust supervenience, a “superdupervenience,” that ensures that properties supervening on physical properties are physicalistically acceptable. Jessica Wilson claims that supervenience is made superduper by Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): each individual causal power associated with a supervenient property is (...)
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  34. Stoljar’s Twin-Physics World.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (1):127-136.
    In his recent book Physicalism, Daniel Stoljar argues that there is no version of physicalism that is both true and deserving of the name. His argument employs a variation of Hilary Putnam’s famous twin-earth story, which Stoljar calls “the twin-physics world.” In this paper, I challenge Stoljar’s use of the twin-physics world. The upshot of that challenge, I argue, is that Stoljar fails to show, concerning the versions of physicalism for which he grants the possibility of being true, that none (...)
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  35. Wondering About Materialism: Diderot’s Egg.Isabelle Stengers - 2011 - In Levi R. Bryant, Nick Srnicek & Graham Harman (eds.), The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. re. press.
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  36. Emergence in Mind (Mind Association Occasional Series) . Edited by Cynthia and Macdonald. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 288 Pages ISBN 13: 978-0-19-958362-1. [REVIEW]Elly Vintiadis - 2012 - Philosophy 87 (4):603-610.
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  37. Current Physics and 'the Physical'.Agustín Vicente - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):393-416.
    Physicalism is the claim that that there is nothing in the world but the physical. Philosophers who defend physicalism have to confront a well-known dilemma, known as Hempel’s dilemma, concerning the definition of ‘the physical’: if ‘the physical’ is whatever current physics says there is, then physicalism is most probably false; but if ‘the physical’ is whatever the true theory of physics would say that there is, we have that physicalism is vacuous and runs the risk of becoming trivial. This (...)
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  38. Two Challenges That Categorical Properties Pose to Physicalism.Robert Schroer - 2012 - Ratio 25 (2):195-206.
    What are physical objects like when they are considered independently of their causal interactions? Many think that the answer to this question involves categorical properties– properties that make contributions to their bearers that are independent of any causal interactions those objects may enter into. In this paper, I examine two challenges that this solution poses to Physicalism. The first challenge is that, given that they are distinct from any of the scientifically described causal powers that they happen to convey, categorical (...)
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  39. Quine's Physicalism.H. G. Callaway & Paul Gochet - 2007 - In Filosofia, Scienza e Bioetica nel dibattito contemperano, Studi internazionali in onore di Evandro Agazzi, pp. 1105-1115.
    In this paper we briefly examine and evaluate Quine’s physicalism. On the supposition, in accordance with Quine’s views, that there can be no change of any sort without a physical change, we argue that this point leaves plenty of room to understand and accept a limited autonomy of the special sciences and of other domains of disciplinary and common-sense inquiry and discourse. The argument depends on distinguishing specific, detailed programs of reduction from the general Quinean strategy of reduction by explication. (...)
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  40. Consciousness and the Frustrations of Physicalism.Philip Pettit - 2009 - In Ian Ravenscroft (ed.), Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes from the Philosophy of Frank Jackson. Oxford University Press. pp. 163.
    This chapter sketches what is considered the best interpretation of physicalism, rehearses the best way of defending it, and shows that the physicalism forthcoming is still going to be less than fully satisfying; it is going to leave us short of the satisfaction that might be expected from a philosophical theory. The chapter is organized into three sections. The first section gives an interpretation of physicalism in the spirit of Frank Jackson's; this involves a rich version under which the way (...)
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  41. Mary's Scientific Knowledge.Luca Malatesti - 2008 - Prolegomena 7 (1):37-59.
    Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument (KA) aims to prove, by means of a thought experiment concerning the hypothetical scientist Mary, that conscious experiences have non-physical properties, called qualia. Mary has complete scientific knowledge of colours and colour vision without having had any colour experience. The central intuition in the KA is that, by seeing colours, Mary will learn what it is like to have colour experiences. Therefore, her scientific knowledge is incomplete, and conscious experiences have qualia. In this paper I consider (...)
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  42. Exclusion Again.Karen Bennett - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 280--307.
    I think that there is an awful lot wrong with the exclusion problem. So, it seems, does just about everybody else. But of course everyone disagrees about exactly _what_ is wrong with it, and I think there is more to be said about that. So I propose to say a few more words about why the exclusion problem is not really a problem after all—at least, not for the nonreductive physicalist. The genuine _dualist_ is still in trouble. Indeed, one of (...)
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  43. Reply to Pettit.Tim Crane - 1993 - Analysis 53 (4):224-27.
    In an earlier paper [3], D. H. Mellor and I argued that physicalism faces a dilemma: 'physical' is either taken in very restrictive sense, in which case physicalism is clearly false; or it is taken in a very broad sense, in which case the doctrine is almost empty. The challenge to the physicalist is to define a doctrine which is both defensible and substantial. Philip Pettit [4] accepts this challenge, and responds with a definition of physicalism which he thinks avoids (...)
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  44. All God Has to Do.Tim Crane - 1991 - Analysis 51 (4):235-44.
    In the beginning God created the elementary particles. Bosons, electrons, protons, quarks and the rest he created them. And they were without form and void, so God created the fundamental laws of physics - the laws of mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and the rest - and assigned values to the fundamental physical constants: the gravitational constant, the speed of light, Planck's constant and the rest. God then set the Universe in motion. And God looked at what he had done, and saw (...)
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  45. Dualism, Monism, Physicalism.Tim Crane - 2000 - Mind and Society 1 (2):73-85.
    Dualism can be contrasted with monism, and also with physicalism. It is argued here that what is essential to physicalism is not just its denial of dualism , but the epistemological and ontological authority it gives to physical science. A physicalist view of the mind must be reductive in one or both of the following senses: it must identify mental phenomena with physical phenomena or it must give an explanation of mental phenomena in physical terms . There is little reason (...)
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  46. There is No Question of Physicalism.Tim Crane & D. H. Mellor - 1990 - Mind 99 (394):185-206.
    Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but they all grant physical science (...)
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