Supervenience

Edited by Jessica Wilson (University of Toronto, St. George Campus, University of Toronto at Scarborough)
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  1. Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael J. Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper defends Flatland—the view that there exist neither determination nor dependence relations, and that everything is therefore fundamental—from the objection from explanatory inefficacy. According to that objection, Flatland is unattractive because it is unable to explain either the appearance as of there being determination relations, or the appearance as of there being dependence relations. We show how the Flatlander can meet the first challenge by offering four strategies—reducing, eliminating, untangling and omnizing—which, jointly, explain the appearance as of there being (...)
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  2. Supervenience Arguments Under Relaxed Assumptions.Johannes Schmitt & Mark Schroeder - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (1):133 - 160.
    When it comes to evaluating reductive hypotheses in metaphysics, supervenience arguments are the tools of the trade. Jaegwon Kim and Frank Jackson have argued, respectively, that strong and global supervenience are sufficient for reduction, and others have argued that supervenience theses stand in need of the kind of explanation that reductive hypotheses are particularly suited to provide. Simon Blackburn's arguments about what he claims are the specifically problematic features of the supervenience of the moral on the natural have also been (...)
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  3. Humean Supervenience and Enduring Things.Sally Haslanger - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (3):339 – 359.
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  4. Presentism and the Objection From Being-Supervenience.Brian Kierland & Bradley Monton - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3):485-497.
    In this paper, we show that presentism -- the view that the way things are is the way things presently are -- is not undermined by the objection from being-supervenience. This objection claims, roughly, that presentism has trouble accounting for the truth-value of past-tense claims. Our demonstration amounts to the articulation and defence of a novel version of presentism. This is brute past presentism, according to which the truth-value of past-tense claims is determined by the past understood as a fundamental (...)
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  5. Particulars and Their Qualities.Douglas C. Long - 1968 - Philosophical Quarterly 18 (72):193-206.
    Berkeley, Hume, and Russell rejected the traditional analysis of substances in terms of qualities which are supported by an "unknowable substratum." To them the proper alternative seemed obvious. Eliminate the substratum in which qualities are alleged to inhere, leaving a bundle of coexisting qualities--a view that we may call the Bundle Theory or BT. But by rejecting only part of the traditional substratum theory instead of replacing it entirely, Bundle Theories perpetuate certain confusions which are found in the Substratum Doctrine. (...)
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  6. Supervenience and Neuroscience.Pete Mandik - 2011 - Synthese 180 (3):443 - 463.
    The philosophical technical term "supervenience" is frequently used in the philosophy of mind as a concise way of characterizing the core idea of physicalism in a manner that is neutral with respect to debates between reductive physicalists and nonreductive physicalists. I argue against this alleged neutrality and side with reductive physicalists. I am especially interested here in debates between psychoneural reductionists and nonreductive functionalist physicalists. Central to my arguments will be considerations concerning how best to articulate the spirit of the (...)
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  7. Supervenience and Computational Explanation in Vision Theory.P. Morton - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (1):86-99.
    According to Marr's theory of vision, computational processes of early vision rely for their success on certain "natural constraints" in the physical environment. I examine the implications of this feature of Marr's theory for the question whether psychological states supervene on neural states. It is reasonable to hold that Marr's theory is nonindividualistic in that, given the role of natural constraints, distinct computational theories of the same neural processes may be justified in different environments. But to avoid trivializing computational explanations, (...)
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  8. Representationalism, Supervenience, and the Cross-Modal Problem.John W. O’dea - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 130 (2):285-95.
    The representational theory of phenomenal experience is often stated in terms of a supervenience thesis: Byrne recently characterises it as the thesis that “there can be no difference in phenomenal character without a difference in content”, while according to Tye, “[a]t a minimum, the thesis is one of supervenience: necessarily, experiences that are alike in their representational contents are alike in their phenomenal character.” Consequently, much of the debate over whether representationalism is true centres on purported counter-examples – that is (...)
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  9. The Irrelevance of Supervenience.Consuelo Preti - 1998 - ProtoSociology 11:160-172.
    Externalistic theses about the nature of content appear to have untoward consequences for the role of content in folk pscyhological causal explanation. Given the predominance of Twin Earth formulations of externalism, however, the explanatory role problem is often construed as the problem of content's failure to supervene on intrinsic states of the head. In this paper I argue that this is misleading. The most general formulation of externalsim is shown to be independent of any supervenience claims. The result is that (...)
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  10. Zeno Objects and Supervenience.Simon Prosser - 2009 - Analysis 69 (1):18 - 26.
    Many philosophers accept a ‘layered’ world‐view according to which the facts about the higher ontological levels supervene on the facts about the lower levels. Advocates of such views often have in mind a version of atomism, according to which there is a fundamental level of indivisible objects known as simples or atoms upon whose spatiotemporal locations and intrinsic properties everything at the higher levels supervenes.1 Some, however, accept the possibility of ‘gunk’ worlds in which there are parts ‘all the way (...)
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  11. Who's Afraid of Undermining?Peter B. M. Vranas - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (2):151-174.
    The Principal Principle (PP) says that, for any proposition A, given any admissible evidence and the proposition that the chance of A is x%, one's conditional credence in A should be x%. Humean Supervenience (HS) claims that, among possible worlds like ours, no two differ without differing in the spacetime-point-by-spacetime-point arrangement of local properties. David Lewis (1986b, 1994a) has argued that PP contradicts HS, and the validity of his argument has been endorsed by Bigelow et al. (1993), Thau (1994), Hall (...)
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  12. Metaphysical Indeterminacy, Supervenience, and Emergence.Robert Williams - manuscript
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Supervenience and Physicalism
  1. Quine's Monism and Modal Eliminativism in the Realm of Superveniences.Atilla Akalın - 2019 - International Journal of Social Humanities Sciences Research (JSHRS) 6 (34):795-800.
    This study asserts that W.V.O. Quine’s eliminative philosophical gaze into mereological composition affects inevitably his interpretations of composition theories of ontology. To investigate Quine’s property monism from the account of modal eliminativism, I applied to his solution for the paradoxes of de re modalities’ . Because of its vital role to figure out how dispositions are encountered by Quine, it was significantly noted that the realm of de re modalities doesn’t include contingent and impossible inferences about things. Therefore, for him, (...)
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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Die Architektur der Synthese. Entstehung und Philosophie der modernen Evolutionstheorie.Marcel Weber - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Konstanz
    This Ph.D. thesis provides a pilosophical account of the structure of the evolutionary synthesis of the 1930s and 40s. The first, more historical part analyses how classical genetics came to be integrated into evolutionary thinking, highlighting in particular the importance of chromosomal mapping of Drosophila strains collected in the wild by Dobzansky, but also the work of Goldschmidt, Sumners, Timofeeff-Ressovsky and others. The second, more philosophical part attempts to answer the question wherein the unity of the synthesis consisted. I argue (...)
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  5. The Non-Reductionist's Troubles with Supervenience.Robert Francescotti - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (1):105-124.
    I argue that there is a tension between three popular views in the philosophy of mind: (1) mental properties are not identical with physical properties (a version of nonreductionism), but (2) mental properties are had solely by virtue of physical properties (physicalism regarding the mind), which requires that (3) mental properties supervene on physical properties. To earn the title "physicalist," one must hold a sufficiently strong version of the supervenience thesis. But this, I argue, will be a version that undermines (...)
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  6. Functionalism, Superduperfunctionalism, and Physicalism: Lessons From Supervenience.Ronald Endicott - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2205-2235.
    Philosophers almost universally believe that concepts of supervenience fail to satisfy the standards for physicalism because they offer mere property correlations that are left unexplained. They are thus compatible with non-physicalist accounts of those relations. Moreover, many philosophers not only prefer some kind of functional-role theory as a physically acceptable account of mind-body and other inter-level relations, but they use it as a form of “superdupervenience” to explain supervenience in a physically acceptable way. But I reject a central part of (...)
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  7. An Abductive Theory of Constitution.Michael Baumgartner & Lorenzo Casini - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):214-233.
    The first part of this paper finds Craver’s (2007) mutual manipulability theory (MM) of constitution inadequate, as it definitionally ties constitution to the feasibility of idealized experiments, which, however, are unrealizable in principle. As an alternative, the second part develops an abductive theory of constitution (NDC), which exploits the fact that phenomena and their constituents are unbreakably coupled via common causes. The best explanation for this common-cause coupling is the existence of an additional dependence relation, viz. constitution. Apart from adequately (...)
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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. Reductive Identities: An Empirical Fundamentalist Approach.Douglas Kutach - 2011 - Philosophia Naturalis 48 (1):67-101.
    I sketch a philosophical program called ‘Empirical Fundamentalism,’ whose signature feature is the extensive use of a distinction between fundamental and derivative reality. Within the framework of Empirical Fundamentalism, derivative reality is treated as an abstraction from fundamental reality. I show how one can understand reduction and supervenience in terms of abstraction, and then I apply the introduced machinery to understand the relation between water and H2O, mental states and brain states, and so on. The conclusion is that such relations (...)
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Supervenience, General
  1. Ontology Without Hierarchy.Kristie Miller, Michael J. Duncan & James Norton - forthcoming - In Javier Cumpa (ed.), The Question of Ontology: The Contemporary Debate. Oxford University Press.
    It has recently become popular to suggest that questions of ontology ought be settled by determining, first, which fundamental things exist, and second, which derivative things depend on, or are grounded by, those fundamental things. This methodology typically leads to a hierarchical view of ontology according to which there are chains of entities, each dependent on the next, all the way down to a fundamental base. In this paper we defend an alternative ontological picture according to which there is no (...)
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  2. The Unity of Grounding.Selim Berker - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):729-777.
    I argue—contra moderate grounding pluralists such as Kit Fine and more extreme grounding pluralists such as Jessica Wilson—that there is fundamentally only one grounding/in-virtue-of relation. I also argue that this single relation is indispensable for normative theorizing—that we can’t make sense of, for example, the debate over consequentialism without it. It follows from what I argue that there is no metaethically-pure normative ethics.
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  3. Grounding: It’s All in the Head.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3059-3081.
    In this paper we provide a psychological explanation for ‘grounding observations’—observations that are thought to provide evidence that there exists a relation of ground. Our explanation does not appeal to the presence of any such relation. Instead, it appeals to certain evolved cognitive mechanisms, along with the traditional modal relations of supervenience, necessitation and entailment. We then consider what, if any, metaphysical conclusions we can draw from the obtaining of such an explanation, and, in particular, if it tells us anything (...)
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  4. Qualitative Grounds.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2017 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):309-348.
    Suppose that all non-qualitative facts are grounded in qualitative facts. I argue that this view naturally comes with a picture in which trans-world identity is indeterminate. But this in turn leads to either pervasive indeterminacy in the non-qualitative, or else contingency in what facts about modality and possible worlds are determinate.
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  5. Beyond Supervenience and Construction.David-Hillel Ruben - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (1):121-141.
    If reduction of the social to the physical fail, what options remain for understanding their relationship? Two such options are supervenience and constructivism. Both are vitiated by a similar fault. So the choices are limited: reduction after all, or emergence.
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  6. Boring Infinite Descent.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2014 - Metaphilosophy 45 (2):257-269.
    In formal ontology, infinite regresses are generally considered a bad sign. One debate where such regresses come into play is the debate about fundamentality. Arguments in favour of some type of fundamentalism are many, but they generally share the idea that infinite chains of ontological dependence must be ruled out. Some motivations for this view are assessed in this article, with the conclusion that such infinite chains may not always be vicious. Indeed, there may even be room for a type (...)
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  7. Expressivism About Making and Truth-Making.Stephen Barker - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-293.
    My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow emerges from some feature (...)
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  8. Methodological Individualism and Holism in Political Science: A Reconciliation.Christian List & Kai Spiekermann - 2013 - American Political Science Review 107 (4):629-643.
    Political science is divided between methodological individualists, who seek to explain political phenomena by reference to individuals and their interactions, and holists (or nonreductionists), who consider some higher-level social entities or properties such as states, institutions, or cultures ontologically or causally significant. We propose a reconciliation between these two perspectives, building on related work in philosophy. After laying out a taxonomy of different variants of each view, we observe that (i) although political phenomena result from underlying individual attitudes and behavior, (...)
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  9. Tensed Supervenience: A No‐Go for Presentism.Sam Baron - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):383-401.
    Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection to presentism employ a fundamentally tensed account of the relationship between truth and being. On this view, the truth of a proposition concerning the past supervenes on how things are, in the present, along with how things were, in the past. This tensed approach to truthmaking arises in response to pressure placed on presentists to abandon the standard response to the truthmaker objection, whereby one invokes presently existing entities as the supervenience base for (...)
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  10. Armstrong's Conception of Supervenience.Markku Keinänen - 2008 - In Tim de Mey & Markku Keinänen (eds.), Problems From Armstrong. Acta Philosophica Fennica 84. pp. 51.
    In this article, I will focus on the notion of supervenience introduced and deployed by Armstrong. The aim is to settle the issue of whether it has any fruitful applications. My conclusions are negative. Armstrong gives to his notion of supervenience a major explanatory role of telling why one need not consider certain beings as a genuine ontic expansion, if one already assumes a certain meagre set of more basic entities. On closer inspection, however, Armstrong’s notion does not clarify such (...)
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  11. Multiple-Domain Supervenience for Non-Classical Mereologies.Ralf M. Bader - forthcoming - In Ontological Dependence and Supervenience. Philosophia.
    This paper develops co-ordinated multiple-domain supervenience relations to model determination and dependence relations between complex entities and their constituents by appealing to R-related pairs and by making use of associated isomorphisms. Supervenience relations are devised for order-sensitive and repetition-sensitive mereologies, for mereological systems that make room for many-many composition relations, as well as for hierarchical mereologies that incorporate compositional and hylomorphic structure. Finally, mappings are provided for theories that consider wholes to be prior to their parts.
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  12. Fundamentality: Structures, Powers, and a Supervenience Dualism.Rodrigo Cid - manuscript
    If we want to say what “fundamentality” means, we have to start by approaching what we generally see at the empty place of the predicate “____ is fundamental”. We generally talk about fundamental entities and fundamental theories. At this article, I tried to make a metaphysical approach of what is for something to be fundamental, and I also tried to talk a little bit of fundamental incomplete and complete theories. To do that, I start stating the notion of “entity” and (...)
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  13. Goodbye, Humean Supervenience.Troy Cross - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 7:129-153.
    Reductionists about dispositions must either say the natural properties are all dispositional or individuate properties hyperintensionally. Lewis stands in as an example of the sort of combination I think is incoherent: properties individuated by modal profile + categoricalism.
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  14. Modality and Supervenience.Danilo Suster - 1996 - Acta Analytica 15 (15):141-155.
    According to the thesis of modal supervenience it is impossible that two objects be alike in their actual properties but differ in their modal properties. Some have argued that the concept of supervenience is inapplicable to the modal-actual case. Some have argued that the thesis of modal supervenience is trivially true. These arguments are refuted; a thesis of the supervenience of the modal on the actual is meaningful and nontrivial. The significance of the thesis is nevertheless limited by the problem (...)
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Supervenient Causation
  1. The Supervenience Argument.Juhani Yli-Vakkuri & Ausonio Marras - 2008 - In S. Gozzano & F. Oralia (eds.), Universals, Tropes and the Philosophy of Mind. Ontos Verlag. pp. 101-132.
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  2. Collective Responsibility and Group-Control.Andras Szigeti - 2014 - In Julie Zahle & Finn Collin (eds.), Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate. Springer. pp. 97-116.
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  3. Locke's Exclusion Argument.Walter Ott - 2010 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (2):181-196.
    In this paper, I argue that Locke is not in fact agnostic about the ultimate nature of the mind. In particular, he produces an argument, much like Jaegwon Kim's exclusion argument, to show that any materialist view that takes mental states to supervene on physical states is committed to epiphenomenalism. This result helps illuminate Locke's otherwise puzzling notion of 'superaddition.'.
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  4. Emergent Causation.Simon Prosser - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (1):21-39.
    Downward causation is commonly held to create problems for ontologically emergent properties. In this paper I describe two novel examples of ontologically emergent properties and show how they avoid two main problems of downward causation, the causal exclusion problem and the causal closure problem. One example involves an object whose colour does not logically supervene on the colours of its atomic parts. The other example is inspired by quantum entanglement cases but avoids controversies regarding quantum mechanics. These examples show that (...)
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  5. Questioning the Causal Inheritance Principle.Ivar Hannikainen - 2010 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 25 (3):261-277.
    Mental causation, though a forceful intuition embedded in our commonsense psychology, is difficult to square with the rest of commitments of physicalism about the mind. Advocates of mental causation have found solace in the causal inheritance principle, according to which the mental properties of mental statesshare the causal powers of their physical counterparts. In this paper, I present a variety of counterarguments to causal inheritance and conclude that the conditions for causal inheritance are stricter than what standing versions of said (...)
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  6. Causation and Determinable Properties : On the Efficacy of Colour, Shape, and Size.Tim Crane - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 176-195.
    This paper presents a puzzle or antinomy about the role of properties in causation. In theories of properties, a distinction is often made between determinable properties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinable properties are cited in causal explanations, as when we say that someone stopped at the traffic light because it was red. If we accept that properties can be among the relata of causation, then it can be argued that there are (...)
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  7. Levels, Orders and the Causal Status of Mental Properties.Simone Gozzano - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (3):347-362.
    In recent years Jaegwon Kim has offered an argument – the ‘supervenience argument’ – to show that supervenient mental properties, construed as second- order properties distinct from their first-order realizers, do not have causal powers of their own. In response, several philosophers have argued that if Kim’s argument is sound, it generalizes in such a way as to condemn to causal impotency all properties above the level of basic physics. This paper discusses Kim’s supervenience argument in the context of his (...)
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