•  294
    Can physicalism be non-reductive?
    Philosophy Compass 3 (6): 1281-1296. 2008.
    Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductive physicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductive physicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better.
  •  275
    Inference to the best explanation and other minds
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (4): 482-91. 1994.
    Robert Pargetter has argued that we know other minds through an inference to the best explanation. My aim is to show, by criticising Pargetter's account, that this approach to the problem of other minds cannot, as it stands, deliver the goods; it might be part of the right response to the problem, but it cannot be the whole story. More precisely, I will claim that Pargetter does not successfully reconstruct how ordinary people in everyday life come reasonably to believe in other minds, given on…Read more
  •  257
    I argue that a certain version of physicalism, which is viewed by both its admirers and its detractors as non-reductionist, in fact entails two claims which, though not reductionist in the currently most popular sense of 'reductionist', conform to the spirit of reductionism sufficiently closely to compromise its claim to be a comprehensively non-reductionist version of physicalism. Putatively non-reductionist versions of physicalism in general, I suggest, are likely to be non-reductionist only i…Read more
  •  207
    Can Metaphysics Be Naturalized? And If So, How?
    In Don Ross, James Ladyman & Harold Kincaid (eds.), Scientific Metaphysics, Oxford University Press. pp. 79-95. 2013.
    This is a critical, but sympathetic, examination of the manifesto for naturalized metaphysics that forms the first chapter of James Ladyman and Don Ross's 2006 book, Every Thing Must Go, but it has wider implications than this description suggests.
  •  199
    Realization and the Formulation of Physicalism
    Philosophical Studies 131 (1): 127-155. 2006.
    Twenty years ago, Richard Boyd suggested that physicalism could be formulated by appeal to a notion of realization, with no appeal to the identity of the non-physical with the physical. In, I developed this suggestion at length, on the basis of one particular account of realization. I now ask what happens if you try to formulate physicalism on the basis of other accounts of realization, accounts due to LePore and Loewer and to Shoemaker. Having explored two new formulations of physicalism, I con…Read more
  •  184
    Materialism
    Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews 3 (3): 281-292. 2012.
    Materialism is nearly universally assumed by cognitive scientists. Intuitively, materialism says that a person’s mental states are nothing over and above his or her material states, while dualism denies this. Philosophers have introduced concepts (e.g., realization, supervenience) to assist in formulating the theses of materialism and dualism with more precision, and distinguished among importantly different versions of each view (e.g., eliminative materialism, substance dualism, emergentism).…Read more
  •  177
    How to keep the 'physical' in physicalism
    Journal of Philosophy 94 (12): 622-637. 1997.
    This paper introduces the term "Hempel's Dilemma" to refer to the following challenge to any formulation of physicalism that appeals to the content of physics: if physical properties are those mentioned as such in current physics, then physicalism is probably false; but if they are those mentioned as such in a completed physics, then, since we have no idea what completed physics will look like, the resulting formulation of physicalism will lack content that is determinable by us now. It shows h…Read more
  •  173
    Searle's abstract argument against strong AI
    Synthese 108 (3): 391-419. 1996.
      Discussion of Searle's case against strong AI has usually focused upon his Chinese Room thought-experiment. In this paper, however, I expound and then try to refute what I call his abstract argument against strong AI, an argument which turns upon quite general considerations concerning programs, syntax, and semantics, and which seems not to depend on intuitions about the Chinese Room. I claim that this argument fails, since it assumes one particular account of what a program is. I suggest an a…Read more
  •  167
    This paper argues against both conceptual and linguistic analysis as sources of a priori knowledge. The key claim is that none of the main views about what concepts are can underwrite the possibility of such knowledge.
  •  147
    Substantial review of Michael Rea's, World without design: the ontological consequences of naturalism. It is an improved version of my paper, "Rea On Naturalism" in Philo, 2004, revised in light of Rea's comments on the earlier paper. The discussion focuses on Rea’s case for three of his theses: that naturalism must be viewed as a ‘research programme’; that naturalism ‘cannot be adopted on the basis of evidence’, as he puts it; and that naturalists cannot be justified in accepting realism abou…Read more
  •  140
    A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism
    Cambridge University Press. 2003.
    A Physicalist Manifesto is a full treatment of the comprehensive physicalist view that, in some important sense, everything is physical. Andrew Melnyk argues that the view is best formulated by appeal to a carefully worked-out notion of realization, rather than supervenience; that, so formulated, physicalism must be importantly reductionist; that it need not repudiate causal and explanatory claims framed in non-physical language; and that it has the a posteriori epistemic status of a broad-scope…Read more
  •  108
    Naturalism as a Philosophical Paradigm
    Philo 12 (2): 188-199. 2009.
    I develop the conjecture that “naturalism” in philosophy names not a thesis but a paradigm in something like Thomas Kuhn’s sense, i.e., a set of commitments, shared by a group of investigators, whose acceptance by the members of the group powerfully influences their day-to-day investigative practice. I take a stab at spelling out the shared commitments that make up naturalism, and the logical and evidential relations among them
  •  105
    Physicalism
    In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Blackwell. pp. 573-587. 2002.
    Written with a student audience in mind, this article surveys the issues raises by the attempt to formulate, argue for, and explore the implications of a comprehensively physicalist view of the world.
  •  96
    Comments on Sydney Shoemaker’s Physical Realization
    Philosophical Studies 148 (1): 113-123. 2010.
    This paper concerns Sydney Shoemaker's view, presented in his book, Physical Realization (Oxford University Press, 2007), of how mental properties are realized by physical properties. That view aims to avoid the "too many minds" problem to which he seems to be led by his further view that human persons are not token-identical with their bodies. The paper interprets and criticizes Shoemaker's view.
  •  94
    Formulating physicalism: Two suggestions
    Synthese 105 (3): 381-407. 1995.
    Two ways are considered of formulating a version of retentive physicalism, the view that in some important sense everything is physical, even though there do exist properties, e.g. higher-level scientific ones, which cannot be type-identified with physical properties. The first way makes use of disjunction, but is rejected on the grounds that the results yield claims that are either false or insufficiently materialist. The second way, realisation physicalism, appeals to the correlative notions o…Read more
  •  91
    Philosophy and the study of its history
    Metaphilosophy 39 (2). 2008.
    This article's goal is to outline one approach to providing a principled answer to the question of what is the proper relationship between philosophy and the study of philosophy's history, a question arising, for example, in the design of a curriculum for graduate students. This approach requires empirical investigation of philosophizing past and present, and thus takes philosophy as an object of study in something like the way that contemporary (naturalistic) philosophy of science takes science…Read more
  •  79
    Pereboom's Robust Non-reductive Physicalism
    Erkenntnis 79 (5): 1191-1207. 2014.
    Derk Pereboom has recently elaborated a formulation of non-reductive physicalism in which supervenience does not play the central role and realization plays no role at all; he calls his formulation “robust non-reductive physicalism”. This paper argues that for several reasons robust non-reductive physicalism is inadequate as a formulation of physicalism: it can only rule out fundamental laws of physical-to-mental emergence by stipulating that there are no such laws; it fails to entail the superv…Read more
  •  78
    Physicalism: From supervenience to elimination
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (September): 573-87. 1991.
    Supervenience physicalism holds that all facts, of whatever type, globally supervene upon the physical facts, even though neither type-type nor token-token nonphysical-physical identities hold. I argue that, invoked like this, supervenience is metaphysically mysterious, needing explanation. I reject two explanations (Lewis and Forrest). I argue that the best explanation of the appearance of supervenience is an error-theoretic, projectivist one: there are no nonphysical properties, but we erroneo…Read more
  •  78
    Testament of a recovering eliminativist
    Philosophy of Science 63 (3). 1996.
    If physicalism is true (e.g., if every event is a fundamental-physical event), then it looks as if there is a fundamental-physical explanation of everything. If so, then what is to become of special scientific explanations? They seem to be excluded by the fundamental-physical ones, and indeed to be excellent candidates for elimination. I argue that, if physicalism is true, there probably is a fundamental-physical explanation of everything, but that nevertheless there can perfectly well be specia…Read more
  •  75
    Some evidence for physicalism
    In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation, Imprint Academic. pp. 155-172. 2003.
    This paper presents an irreducibly inductive argument for physicalism based on the causal closure of the physical (for which it argues), and defends it against various detractors.
  •  75
    Review of Galen Strawson, 'Real Materialism and Other Essays' (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8/01). 2009.
    This is a review of Galen Strawson's Real Materialism And Other Essays. It focuses on reconstructing and criticizing his "realistic materialism", a view that many philosophers will regard as a form of panpsychism
  •  63
    Realization realized
    Philosophical Books 50 (3): 185-195. 2009.
    This is a critical study of Sydney Shoemaker's, Physical Realization (Oxford University Press, 2007). It focuses on (i) the relationship between his subset theory of realization and the higher-order property theory of realization, and (ii) his attempt to solve the problem of mental causation.
  •  58
    Rea on Naturalism
    Philo 7 (2): 131-137. 2004.
    My goal in this paper is to provide critical discussion of Michael Rea’s case for three of the controversial theses defended in his World Without Design (Oxford University Press, 2002): (1) that naturalism must be viewed as what he calls a “research program”; (2) that naturalism “cannot be adopted on the basis of evidence,” as he puts it; and (3) that naturalists cannot be justified in accepting realism about material objects.
  •  58
    Review of Jaegwon Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (7-17). 2005.
    This is a review of Jaegwon Kim's Physicalism, Or Something Near Enough. It focuses on his claim that mental properties can be causally efficacious only if they are, in a certain sense, functionally reducible to the physical and his criticisms of best-explanation arguments for physicalism as advocated by, e.g., Christopher Hill and Brian McLaughlin
  •  57
    Is there a formal argument against positive rights?
    Philosophical Studies 55 (2). 1989.
    Positive rights are, roughly, rights that one be provided with certain things; and so they entail obligations on others, not merely to refrain from interfering with the bearer of the rights, but to see to it that one gets whatever one has the rights to. An example of a positive right would be the right to a welfare minimum; the right, that is, to resources sufficient to satisfy basic physical needs. In this paper I criticise a couple of recent attempts (by Den Uyl and Machan, and by M. Levin) to…Read more
  •  56
    A Case For Physicalism About The Human Mind
    God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence. 2007.
    The first of three contributions to an e-book in which I debated Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro on the question whether the human mind is material. I said that it is, and they said that it isn't. The article is meant to be intelligible to an educated general audience. In this first contribution, I present a simplified version of the argument for physicalism based on the neural dependence of mental phenomena.
  •  52
    Review of Robert Kirk's The Conceptual Link From Physical To Mental (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  •  50
    Naturalism, Free Choices, And Conscious Experiences
    God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence. 2007.
    The third of three contributions to an e-book in which I debated Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro on the question whether the human mind is material. I said that it is, and they said that it isn't. The article is meant to be intelligible to an educated general audience. In this third contribution, I reply to the claim of Goetz and Taliaferro that naturalism (i.e., anti-supernaturalism) cannot accommodate free choices and conscious experience.
  •  50
    The prospects for Kirk's non-reductive physicalism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (2): 323-32. 1998.
    Using the notion of strict implication, Robert Kirk claims to have formulated a version of physicalism which is nonreductive. I argue that, depending on how his notion of strict implication is interpreted, Kirk's formulation either fails to be physicalist or else commits him to reductionism. Either way we do not have nonreductive physicalism. I also suggest that the reductionism to which Kirk is committed, though unfashionable, is unobjectionable