Full text Read free See used
Kim, Jaegwon, , . Physicalism, or Something Near Enough
2005, Princeton University Press.
Expand entry
Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Contemporary discussions in philosophy of mind have largely been shaped by physicalism, the doctrine that all phenomena are ultimately physical. Here, Jaegwon Kim presents the most comprehensive and systematic presentation yet of his influential ideas on the mind-body problem. He seeks to determine, after half a century of debate: What kind of (or “how much”) physicalism can we lay claim to? He begins by laying out mental causation and consciousness as the two principal challenges to contemporary physicalism. How can minds exercise their causal powers in a physical world? Is a physicalist account of consciousness possible? The book’s starting point is the “supervenience” argument (sometimes called the “exclusion” argument), which Kim reformulates in an extended defense. This argument shows that the contemporary physicalist faces a stark choice between reductionism (the idea that mental phenomena are physically reducible) and epiphenomenalism (the view that mental phenomena are causally impotent). Along the way, Kim presents a novel argument showing that Cartesian substance dualism offers no help with mental causation. Mind-body reduction, therefore, is required to save mental causation. But are minds physically reducible? Kim argues that all but one type of mental phenomena are reducible, including intentional mental phenomena, such as beliefs and desires. The apparent exceptions are the intrinsic, felt qualities of conscious experiences (“qualia”). Kim argues, however, that certain relational properties of qualia, in particular their similarities and differences, are behaviorally manifest and hence in principle reducible, and that it is these relational properties of qualia that are central to their cognitive roles. The causal efficacy of qualia, therefore, is not entirely lost. According to Kim, then, while physicalism is not the whole truth, it is the truth near enough.

Comment: A great book on the mind-body problem. In addition to presenting Kim’s own view, it does an excellent job explaining the problem, as well as presenting some of the opposing viewpoints clearly and strongly, before providing good objections. Many sections would be useful as part of an examination of the mind-body problem in general.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Ney, Alyssa, , . Reductionism
2008, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Expand entry
Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Introduction: Reductionists are those who take one theory or phenomenon to be reducible to some other theory or phenomenon. For example, a reductionist regarding mathematics might take any given mathematical theory to be reducible to logic or set theory. Or, a reductionist about biological entities like cells might take such entities to be reducible to collections of physico-chemical entities like atoms and molecules. The type of reductionism that is currently of most interest in metaphysics and philosophy of mind involves the claim that all sciences are reducible to physics. This is usually taken to entail that all phenomena (including mental phenomena like consciousness) are identical to physical phenomena. The bulk of this article will discuss this latter understanding of reductionism.

Comment: An excellent overview of reductionism, its history, and different ways to interpret it. Clear and accessible, and useful for an intermediate metaphysics course – perhaps after having studied an applied case of reductionism – e.g. about modality. Then, students will be able to have this in mind when considering different senses of reduction. Could then be a useful gateway into metaphysics of mind. Alternatively, this article could be used near the start of a philosophy of mind course.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Thalos, Mariam, , . Nonreductive physics
2006, Synthese 149(1): 133-178.
Expand entry
Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper documents a wide range of nonreductive scientific treatments of phenomena in the domain of physics. These treatments strongly resist characterization as explanations of macrobehavior exclusively in terms of behavior of microconstituents. For they are treatments in which macroquantities are cast in the role of genuine and irreducible degrees of freedom.

Comment: A good argument against reduction, grounded in scientific practice. Would be useful in a philosophy of science or a metaphysics context to explore and challenge the idea of reduction. Does a good job of explaining some fairly technical concepts as clearly as possible, but still best suited to graduate or upper-level undergraduate teaching.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options