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Diaz-Leon, Esa, , . We Are Living in a Material World (And I am a Material Girl)
2008, Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):85-101 (2008)
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper I examine the question of whether the characterization of physicalism that is presupposed by some influential anti-physicalist arguments, namely, the so-called conceivability arguments, is a good characterization of physicalism or not. I compare this characterization with some alternative ones, showing how it can overcome some problems, and I defend it from several objections. I conclude that any arguments against physicalism characterised in that way are genuine arguments against physicalism, as intuitively conceived.

Comment: Provides a good, clear, explanation of supervenience, and methodically goes through various formulations of physicalism and objections to them. Would be a very good introduction to these issues to set up for an examination of arguments for and against physicalism.

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Irvine, Elizabeth, , . Explaining What?
2014, Topoi 36 (1):95-106.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The Hard Problem is surrounded by a vast literature, to which it is increasingly hard to contribute to in any meaningful way. Accordingly, the strategy here is not to offer any new metaphysical or ‘in principle’ arguments in favour of the success of materialism, but to assume a Type Q approach and look to contemporary consciousness science to see how the concept of consciousness fares there, and what kind of explanations we can hope to offer of it. It is suggested that while they will be materialist explanations, they will not be of the form that many scientists and philosophers would have us believe, but instead prompt a very different set of expectations and research projects.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Ney, Alyssa, , . Defining Physicalism
2008, Philosophy Compass 3(5): 1033-1048.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: This article discusses recent disagreements over the correct formulation of physicalism. Although there appears to be a consensus outside those who discuss the issue that physicalists believe that what exists is what is countenanced by physics, as we will see, this orthodoxy faces an important puzzle now frequently referred to as ‘Hempel’s Dilemma’. After surveying the historical trajectory from Enlightenment-era materialism to contemporary physicalism, I examine several mainstream approaches that respond to Hempel’s dilemma, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Comment: A great paper for an intermediate or advanced metaphysics course that provides a clear and accessible overview of physicalism and its history, but also more detailed discussion around the topic. It canvasses contemporary formulations of physicalism and their problems. This text is helpful for students in supplying them with a strong overview of the debate. Set seminar questions could (for example) ask students to outline Hempel’s dilemma, and their preferred response to this dilemma that is discussed by Ney.

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Taylor, Kenneth A., , . How not to refute eliminative materialism
1994, Philosophical Psychology 7 (1):101-125 (1994)
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper examines and rejects some purported refutations of eliminative materialism in the philosophy of mind: a quasi-transcendental argument due to Jackson and Pettit (1990) to the effect that folk psychology is “peculiarly unlikely” to be radically revised or eliminated in light of the developments of cognitive science and neuroscience; and (b) certain straight-out transcendental arguments to the effect that eliminativism is somehow incoherent (Baker, 1987; Boghossian, 1990). It begins by clarifying the exact topology of the dialectical space in which debates between eliminativist and anti-eliminativist ought to be framed. I claim that both proponents and opponents of eliminativism have been insufficiently attentive to the range of dialectical possibilities. Consequently, the debate has not, in fact, been framed within the correct dialectical setting. I then go onto to show how inattentiveness to the range of dialectical possibilities undermines both transcendental and quasi-transcendental arguments against eliminativism. In particular, I argue that the quasi-transcendentalist overestimates the degree to which folk psychology can be insulated from the advance of neuroscience and cognitive science just in virtue of being a functional theory. I argue further that transcendental arguments are fallacious and do not succeed against even the strongest possible form of eliminativism. Finally, I argue that that transcendental arguments are irrelevant. Even if such arguments do succeed against a certain’very strong form of eliminativism, they remain complete non-starters against certain weaker forms of eliminativism. And I argue that if any of these weaker forms is true, folk psychology is in trouble enough to vindicate Paul Ckurchland’s claim that our common sense psychological framework is “a radically false and misleading conception of the causes of human behavior and the nature of cognitive activity”.

Comment: Offers interesting refutations to arguments against eliminative materialism. Could be useful in motivating interest in eliminative materialism by demonstrating that it has not been decisively refuted, or as part of an in-depth examination of the view in a course on that subject.

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