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There IS a Question of Physicalism

In: Organon F, vol. 26, no. 4
Orli Dahan


Year, pages: 2019, 542 - 571
Language: eng
Completeness of physics; consciousness; dualism; Hempel’s Dilemma; physicalism; via negativa.
Article type: Research Article
About article:
The most common catchphrase of physicalism is: “everything is physical”. According to Hempel’s Dilemma, however, physicalism is an ill-formed thesis because it can offer no account of the physics to which it refers: current physics will definitely be revised in the future, and we do not yet know the nature of future physics. The dilemma arises due to our difficulty to set the boundaries of the concept ‘physical.’ In order to confront the dilemma, a physicalist must ensure that physics is not going to broaden itself artificially (or in some trivial way) to become complete—perhaps by adding non-reductive mental entities to elementary physical theory, making it impossible to distinguish physicalism from dualism. I offer a solution to the dilemma which is a version of the ‘via negativa’ (standardly taken to be a stipulation that the physical not include the mental), albeit one that is specified and worked out in a distinctive way. My suggested formulation of the physicalist hypothesis allows us to establish a refutation condition of physicalism. The refutation condition is general and not only dualistic. Consequently, the physicalist can choose the second horn of the dilemma, and hold that physicalism is indeed refutable (and not a trivial thesis).
How to cite:
ISO 690:
Dahan, O. 2019. There IS a Question of Physicalism. In Organon F, vol. 26, no.4, pp. 542-571. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26401

Dahan, O. (2019). There IS a Question of Physicalism. Organon F, 26(4), 542-571. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26401
About edition:
Publisher: Filozofický ústav SAV, Filosofický ústav AVČR
Published: 1. 12. 2019
Orli Dahan