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How Philosophy of Mind Needs Philosophy of Chemistry

Earley, Joseph (2008) How Philosophy of Mind Needs Philosophy of Chemistry. [Preprint]


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By the 1960s many (perhaps most) philosophers had adopted ‘physicalism’ ─ the view that physical causes fully account for mental activities. However, controversy persists about what count as ‘physical causes’. ‘Reductive’ physicalists recognize only microphysical (elementary-particle-level) causality. Many (perhaps most) physicalists are ‘non-reductive’ ─ they hold that entities considered by other (‘special’) sciences have causal powers. Philosophy of chemistry can help resolve main issues in philosophy of mind in three ways: developing an extended mereology applicable to chemical combination, testing whether ‘singularities’ prevent reduction of chemistry to microphysics, and demonstrating ‘downward causation’ in complex networks of chemical reactions.

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Item Type: Preprint
Earley, Joseph
Keywords: Physicalism, philosophy of chemistry, mind, mereology, structuralism, emergence, realism, downward causation.
Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Depositing User: Dr. Joseph E. Earley
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2009
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:16
Item ID: 4031

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