Thinking about Physicalism


Physicalism, if it is to be a significant thesis, should differentiate itself from key metaphysical contenders which endorse the existence of platonic entities, emergent properties, Cartesian souls, angels, and God. Physicalism can never be true in worlds where things of these kinds exist. David Papineau, David Spurrett, and Barbara Montero have recently developed and defended two influential conceptions of physicalism. One is derived from a conception of the physical as the non-mentally-and-non-biologically identifiable. The other is derived from a conception of the physical as the non-sui-generis-mental. The paper looks at the resources available to those conceptions, but argues that each is insufficient to yield a conception of physicalism that differentiates it from key anti-physicalist positions. According to these conceptions, if we lived in a world full of things that clearly cannot be physical, we would still live in a physical world. Thus, such conceptions of physicalism are of little theoretical interest.

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Restrepo, R. (2012) Thinking about Physicalism. Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 84-88. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.22012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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