Physicalism, Or Something Near Enough

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Princeton University Press, 2005 - Philosophy - 186 pages
5 Reviews

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.

  

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Review: Physicalism, or Something Near Enough

User Review  - José - Goodreads

This book is great, and quite funny. A good insight about the content could be the explanation of 'Ontology of the world': "...the content of the world is wholly exhausted by matter. Material things ... Read full review

Review: Physicalism, or Something Near Enough

User Review  - Ryan Travis - Goodreads

Very good account of how contemporary physicalists view the mind-body problem, or at least what's left of it. The book is well written and well argued. It is definitely worth checking out! Read full review

Contents

Synopsis of the Arguments
1
Mental Causation and Consciousness Our Two MindBody Problems
7
Mental Causation and Consciousness
8
The SupervenienceExclusion Argument
13
Can We Reduce Qualia?
22
The Two WorldKnots
29
The Supervenience Argument Motivated Clarified and Defended
32
Nonreductive Physicalism
33
BridgeLaw Reduction and Functional Reduction
98
Explanatory Ascent and Constraint R
103
Functional Reduction and Reductive Explanation
108
Kripkean Identities and Reductive Explanation
113
Remarks about Block and Stalnakers Proposal
117
Explanatory Arguments for Type Physicalism and Why They Dont Work
121
Are There Positive Arguments for Type Physicalism?
123
Hills and McLaughlins Explanatory Argument
126

The Fundamental Idea
36
The Supervenience Argument Refined and Clarified
39
Is Overdetermination an Option?
46
The Generalization Argument
52
Blocks Causal Drainage Argument
57
The Rejection of Immaterial Minds A Causal Argument
70
Cartesian Dualism and Mental Causation
72
Causation and the Pairing Problem
78
Causality and Space
85
Why Not Locate Souls in Space?
88
Concluding Remarks
91
Reduction Reductive Explanation and Closing the Gap
93
Reduction and Reductive Explanation
95
Do Psychoneural Identities Explain Psychonerual Correlations?
131
Block and Stalnakers Explanatory Argument
139
Another Way of Looking at the Two Explanatory Arguments
146
Physicalism or Something Near Enough
149
Taking Stock
150
Physicalism at a Crossroads
156
Reducing Minds
161
Living with the Mental Residue
170
Where We Are at Last with the MindBody Problem
173
References
175
Index
181
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Jaegwon Kim is William Herbert Perry Faunce Professor of Philosophy at Brown University. His previous books include "Mind in a Physical World, Philosophy of Mind," and "Supervenience and Mind".

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