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Even on that assumption, however, it is still not completely obvious that supervenience physicalism entails type physicalism. The reason for this has to do with questions concerning the logical or Boolean closure of the set of physical properties — if P , Q and R are physical properties, which of the various logical permutations of P , Q and R are likewise physical properties?

On some assumptions concerning closure and supervenience, supervenience physicalism construed as a necessary truth entails type physicalism; on other assumptions, it doesn't.

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But the problem is that the assumptions themselves are difficult to interpret and evaluate, and so the issue remains a difficult one. It is not necessary for our purposes to settle the question concerning closure here. Before the development of the notion of supervenience, physicalism was often stated as a reductionist thesis.

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It will therefore be useful to contrast the supervenience formulation of physicalism with various reductionist proposals, and also to consider a question that has received a lot of attention in the literature, viz. The main problem in assessing whether a physicalist must be a reductionist is that there are various non-equivalent versions of reductionism.

One idea is tied to the notion of conceptual or reductive analysis. When philosophers attempt to provide an analysis of some concept or notion, they usually try to provide a reductive analysis of the notion in question, i.

The Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism

Applied to the philosophy of mind, this notion might be thought of entailing the idea that every mental concept or predicate is analyzed in terms of a physical concept or predicate. A formulation of this idea is 6 :. While one occasionally finds in the literature the suggestion that physicalists are committed to 6 in fact, no physicalist since before Smart has unqualifiedly held anything like 6.

Adapting Ryle , Smart supposed that in addition to physical expressions there is a class of expressions which are topic-neutral, i.

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Smart suggested that one might analyze mental expressions in topic-neutral but not physical terms, which in effect means that a physicalist could reject 6. It is fair to say that this move is one of the central innovations of philosophy of mind, a move to a large extent endorsed and developed later on by functionalists and cognitive scientists. A different notion of reduction derives from the attempts of philosophers of science to explain intertheoretic reduction.

The classic formulation of this notion was given by Ernest Nagel Nagel said that one theory was reduced to another if you could logically derive the first from the second together with what he called bridge laws, i. Here is a formulation of this idea, where the theories in question are psychology and neuroscience:.

Once again, however, there is no reason at all why physicalists need to accept that reductionism is true in the sense of 7. Indeed, many philosophers have argued that there are very strong empirical reasons to deny that anything like 7 is going to be the case. The reason is this.

Many different neurological processes whether in our own species or a different one could underlie the same psychological process — indeed, given science fiction, even non-neurological processes might underlie the same psychological process. But if multiple realizability — as this sort of idea is called — is true, then 7 seems to be false. Fodor , but for recent alternative views, see Kim A third notion of reductionism is more metaphysical in focus than either the conceptual or theoretical ideas reviewed so far.


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According to this notion, reductionism means that the properties expressed by the predicates of say a psychological theory are identical to the properties expressed by the predicates of say a neurological theory — in other words, this version of reductionism is in essence a version of type physicalism or the identity theory. However, as we have seen, if physicalists are committed only to supervenience physicalism, they are not committed to type physicalism.

Hence a physicalist need not be a reductionist in this metaphysical sense. A final notion of reductionism that needs to be distinguished from the previous three concerns whether mental statements follow a priori from non-mental statements. Here is a statement of this sort of idea,.

What 8 says is that if reductionism is true, a priori knowledge alone, plus knowledge of the physical truths will allow one to know the mental truths. This question is in fact a highly vexed one in contemporary philosophy. However, this question is usually debated in the context of another, viz. It is to that question, therefore, to which we will now turn. Another way to say this is to say that if physicalism is true, then the following conditional is necessarily true:.

Indeed, this is a general feature of physicalism: if it is true then there will always be a necessary truth of the form of 9.


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Now, if 9 is necessary the question arises whether it is a priori , i. Traditionally, every statement that was necessary was assumed to be a priori.

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However, since Kripke's Naming and Necessity , philosophers have become used to the idea that there are truths which are both necessary and a posteriori. Accordingly many recent philosophers have defended a posteriori physicalism : the claim that statements such as 9 are necessary and a posteriori cf.

Loar Moreover, they have used this point to try to disarm many objections to physicalism, including those concerning qualia and intentionality that we will consider in a moment. Indeed, as we have just noted, some philosophers have suggested that the necessary a posteriori provides the proper interpretation of non-reductive physicalism.

The appeal to the necessary a posteriori is on the surface an attractive one, but it is also controversial. One problem arises from the fact that Kripke's idea that there are necessary and a posteriori truths can be interpreted in two rather different ways. On the first interpretation — I will call it the derivation view — while there are necessary a posteriori truths, these truths can be derived a priori from truths which are a posteriori and contingent.

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On the second interpretation — I will call it the non-derivation view — there are non- derived necessary a posteriori truths, i. The problem is that when one combines the derivation view with the claim that 9 is necessary and a posteriori , one encounters a contradiction. If the derivation view is correct, then there is some contingent and a posteriori statement S that logically entails 9. One the other hand, if physicalism is true, and S summarizes the total nature of the world it seems reasonable to suppose that S was already implicitly included in S.

In other words it seems reasonable to suppose that 10 is simply an expansion of 9. But if 10 is just an expansion of 9 , then if 10 is a priori , 9 must also be a priori. But that means our initial assumption is false: 9 is not a necessary a posteriori truth after all Jackson How might an a posteriori physicalist respond to this objection?

The obvious response is to reject the derivation view of the necessary a posteriori in favor of the non-derivation view. But this is just to say that if one wants to defend a posteriori physicalism, one will have to defend the non-derivation view of the necessary a posteriori. However, the non-derivation view is controversial. Indeed, the question of which interpretation of Kripke's work is the right one, is one of the most vexed in contemporary analytic philosophy.

So it is not something that we can hope to solve here. We noted above that while supervenience provides an attractive answer to the completeness question, it is not as popular now as it once was. Part of the reason for this are the problems mentioned in Supervenience Physicalism: Further Issues. But perhaps the most influential consideration here is what I will call the sufficiency problem , viz.

One way to bring out the sufficiency problem focuses on emergentism , a position on the mind-body problem influential in the first forty years of the twentieth century Cf. Kim ; see also Wilson ; for the historical background to emergentism, see MacLaughlin Emergentism may itself be understood in several ways, but in the sense that matters to the sufficiency objection, what is intended is a position that weaves together elements of both dualism and physicalism.

On the one hand, the emergentist wants to say that mental facts and physical facts are metaphysically distinct—just as a standard dualist does. On the other hand, emergentist wants to agree with the physicalist that mental facts are necessitated by, and so supervene on, the physical facts. If this sort of position is coherent, 1 does not articulate a sufficient condition for physicalism.

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For if emergentism is true, any physical duplicate of the actual world is a duplicate simpliciter. And yet, if emergentism is true, physicalism is false. A different way to bring out the sufficiency problem focuses on the idea of a necessary being which is essentially nonphysical Cf. Some theists believe that God provides an example of such a being. If such a non-physical being exists, it is natural to suppose that physicalism is false.

But if physicalism is defined according to 1 , then physicalism may still be true, for it remains possible that any minimal physical duplicate of the world is a duplicate simpliciter. So, again, 1 does not formulate a sufficient condition for the truth of physicalism. How to respond to the sufficiency problem? Some philosophers suppose that the issue is so serious that the only thing to do is to retreat from supervenience physicalism to type physicalism e.

The major burden on this proposal, however, is that, as we have seen, type physicalism was given up for a very good reason, e. A different suggestion points out that the problem is only genuine if the cases that generate it are coherent — and are they? One reason against supposing so is that both seem to violate Hume's dictum that there are no necessary connections between distinct existences. According to emergentism, for example, mental and physical properties are metaphysically distinct, and yet are necessarily connected.

And if the non-physical necessary being exists at all, it will presumably be necessarily connected to the physical world and yet distinct from it. However, Hume's dictum is itself a matter of controversy, so it is unclear if the cases can be dismissed in this way see Jackson , Stalnaker , Stoljar , and Wilson , In view of the difficulty of responding to the sufficiency problem by either retreating to type physicalism or rejecting the examples that generate the problem, a natural option at this point is to agree that 1 does not articulate a sufficient condition for physicalism but search for a related proposal that does.

One suggestion along these lines, for example, might be to replace 1 with:. Unlike 1 , 11 does not have the consequence that the supervenience is sufficient for physicalism; hence it does not entail that physicalism is true if either emergentism is true or essentially non-physical necessary beings exist. Of course, 11 faces the further problem of saying what metaphysical distinctness is, and more generally what the relation is between condition a and condition b. But it might also be supposed on behalf of 11 that the proponent of the sufficiency objection must already have answers to these questions, for otherwise the objection could not itself be advanced.