•  235
    The varieties of emergence: Their purposes, obligations and importance
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 65 (1): 95-121. 2002.
    I outline reasons for the recent popularity, and lingering suspicion, about 'emergence' by examining three distinct concepts of property emergence, their purposes and associated obligations. In Part 1, I argue 'Strong' emergence is the grail for many emergentists (and physicalists), since it frames what is needed to block the 'Argument from Realization' (AR) which moves from the truth of physicalism to the inefficacy of special science properties. I then distinguish 'Weak' and 'Ontological' emer…Read more
  •  224
    Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been badly, although understandably,…Read more
  •  217
    A number of philosophers have argued that there is no good way to make sense of the "physical" so that the usual arguments and conclusions of physicalists can be rendered sensible. David Papineau and David Spurrett have recently suggested replacing "physical" with either "non-mental" or "quantitative" in the best known argument for physicalism, namely, the causal argument. We argue that the resulting new argument is unsatisfactory. More precisely, we argue that if there was a real difficulty …Read more
  •  182
    Physicalism and its Discontents (edited book)
    with Barry Loewer
    Cambridge University Press. 2001.
    Physicalism, a topic that has been central to modern philosophy of mind and metaphysics, is the philosophical view that everything in the space-time world is ultimately physical. The physicalist will claim that all facts about the mind and the mental are physical facts and deny the existence of mental events and state insofar as these are thought of as independent of physical things, events and states. This collection of essays, first published in 2001, offers a series of perspectives on this im…Read more
  •  180
    An electron clearly has the property of having a charge of þ1.6 10 19 coulombs, but does it also have the property of being charged ? Philosophers have worried whether so-called ‘determinable’ predicates, such as ‘is charged’, actually refer to determinable properties in the way they are happy to say that determinate predicates, such as ‘has a charge of þ1.6 10 19 coulombs’, refer to determinate properties. The distinction between determinates and determinables is itself fairly new, dating only …Read more
  •  153
    The autonomy of psychology in the age of neuroscience
    with Ken Aizawa
    In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press. pp. 202--223. 2011.
    Sometimes neuroscientists discover distinct realizations for a single psychological property. In considering such cases, some philosophers have maintained that scientists will abandon the single multiply realized psychological property in favor of one or more uniquely realized psychological properties. In this paper, we build on the Dimensioned theory of realization and a companion theory of multiple realization to argue that this is not the case. Whether scientists postulate unique realizati…Read more
  •  148
    Infinitism redux? A response to Klein
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3). 2003.
    Foundationalist, Coherentist, Skeptic etc., have all been united in one respect--all accept epistemic justification cannot result from an unending, and non-repeating, chain of reasons. Peter Klein has recently challenged this minimal consensus with a defense of what he calls "Infinitism"--the position that justification can result from such a regress. Klein provides surprisingly convincing responses to most of the common objections to Infinitism, but I will argue that he fails to address a vener…Read more
  •  147
    Stephan Blatti claims to have a new line of reasoning using evolutionary theory that resolves arguments over our deeper natures in favor of the Animalist position that we are identical to Homo sapiens organisms. Blatti thus raises an important question about which views of what we are can take us to be evolved. However, in this response I show that Blatti’s argument using evolution is based upon a false assumption about contemporary biology. I highlight how a better understanding of evolutionary…Read more
  •  117
    Inter-level mechanistic explanations in the sciences have long been a focus of philosophical interest, but attention has recently turned to the compositional character of these explanations which work by explaining higher level entities, whether processes, individuals or properties, using the lower level entities they take to compose them. However, we still have no theoretical account of the constitution or parthood relations between individuals deployed in such explanations, nor any accounts of…Read more
  •  112
    Strong Emergence as a Defese of Non-Reductive Physicalism
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 6 (1): 87-120. 2002.
    Jaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challenge to both emergentism and nom-reductive physicalism by providing arguments that these positions are committed to an untenable combination of both ‘upward’ and ‘dounward’ determination. In section 1, I illuminate how the nature of the realization relation underlies such skeptical arguments However, in section 2, I suggest that such conclusions involve a confusion between the implications of physicalism and those of a related thesis t…Read more
  •  95
    A mechanist manifesto for the philosophy of mind: A third way for functionalists
    Journal of Philosophical Research 32 21-42. 2007.
    One of the main early forms of “functionalism,” developed by writers like Jerry Fodor and William Lycan, focused on “mechanistic” explanation in the special sciences and argued that “functional properties” in psychology were continuous in nature with the special science properties posited in such mechanistic explanations. I dub the latter position“Continuity Functionalism” and use it to critically examine the “Standard Picture” of the metaphysics of functionalism which takes “functional” propert…Read more
  •  84
    Multiply realizing scientific properties and their instances
    Philosophical Psychology 24 (6): 727-738. 2011.
    Thomas Polger and Lawrence Shapiro (or P&S) have recently (2008) criticized ?causal-mechanist? views of realization that dominate research in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics of science. P&S offer the internal criticism that any account of realization focusing upon property instances, as views of causal-mechanist realization routinely do, must lead to incoherence about multiple realization. P&S's argument highlights important issues about property instances that have recently been neglecte…Read more
  •  80
    Does the Argument from Realization Generalize? Responses to Kim
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (1): 79-98. 2001.
    By quantifying over properties we cannot create new properties any more than by quantifying over individuals we can create new individuals. Someone murdered Jones, and the murderer is either Smith or Jones or Wang. That “someone”, who murdered Jones, is not a person in addition to Smith, Jones, and Wang, and it would be absurd to posit a disjunctive person, Smith-or-Jones-or-Wang, with whom to identify the murderer. The same goes for second-order properties and their realizers. (Kim (1997a), p.2…Read more
  •  76
    Understanding the 'making-up' relations, to put things neutrally, posited in mechanistic explanations the sciences is finally an explicit topic of debate amongst philosophers of science. In particular, there is now lively debate over the nature of the so-called 'realization' relations between properties posited in such explanations. Despite criticism (Gillett, Analysis 62: 316-323, 2002a), the most common approach continues to be that of applying machinery developed in the philosophy of mind to …Read more
  •  68
    The hidden battles over emergence
    In Philip Clayton (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science, Oxford University Press. pp. 801--819. 2006.
    By Carl Gillett, Illinois Wesleyan University. Ontological reductionism has long dominated the sciences and intellectual life more broadly. It holds that a ‘final theory’ in physics would, in principle, suffice to explain all natural phenomena and that, ultimately, the entities of such a theory, like quarks with their properties of spin, charm and charge, are all that actually exists. Recently, however, a mounting challenge to this hegemonic reductionism has been focused around ‘emergent’ entit…Read more
  •  53
    Brains, Neuroscience, and Animalism: On the Implications of Thinking Brains
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1): 41-52. 2014.
    The neuroscience revolution has led many scientists to posit “expansive” or “thinking” brains that instantiate rich psychological properties. As a result, some scientists now even claim you are identical to such a brain. However, Eric Olson has offered new arguments that thinking brains cannot exist due to their intuitively “abominable” implications. After situating the commitment to thinking brains in the wider scientific discussions in which they are posited, I then critically assess Olson's a…Read more
  •  51
    Iaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challen,ge to both emergentism cmd ncm-reductIve physicalism lyy providing arguments that these positums are cornmitted to an untenabie combmation of both `upwarcit and 'clouniwardi determmation. In secuon 1, I illuminate how the nature of the realiza:0n relatzon underlies such sicepucal arguments However, tn secuon 2, I suggest that such conclusicrns involve a confusion between the implications of physicahsm and those of a related thesis t…Read more
  •  41
    A Mechanist Manifesto for the Philosophy of Mind
    Journal of Philosophical Research 32 21-42. 2007.
    One of the main early forms of “functionalism,” developed by writers like Jerry Fodor and William Lycan, focused on “mechanistic” explanation in the special sciences and argued that “functional properties” in psychology were continuous in nature with the special science properties posited in such mechanistic explanations. I dub the latter position“Continuity Functionalism” and use it to critically examine the “Standard Picture” of the metaphysics of functionalism which takes “functional” propert…Read more
  •  38
    Symposium on mechanisms in mind
    Journal of Philosophical Research 32 1-2. 2007.
    One of the main early forms of “functionalism,” developed by writers like Jerry Fodor and William Lycan, focused on “mechanistic” explanation in the special sciences and argued that “functional properties” in psychology were continuous in nature with the special science properties posited in such mechanistic explanations. I dub the latter position“Continuity Functionalism” and use it to critically examine the “Standard Picture” of the metaphysics of functionalism which takes “functional” propert…Read more
  •  35
    Biologists seems to hold two fundamental beliefs: Organisms are organized into levels and the individuals at these levels differ in their properties. Together these suggest that there will be massive multiple realization, i.e. that many human psychological properties are multiply realized at many neurobiological levels. This paper provides some documentation in support of this suggestion.
  •  31
    Defending pluralism about compositional explanations
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 78 101202. 2019.
    In the New Mechanist literature, most attention has focused on the compositional explanation of processes/activities of wholes by processes/activities of their parts. These are sometimes called “constitutive mechanistic explanations.” In this paper, we defend moving beyond this focus to a Pluralism about compositional explanation by highlighting two additional species of such explanations. We illuminate both Analytic compositional explanations that explain a whole using a compositional relatio…Read more