Journal of Philosophy 94 (12):622-637 (1997)

Andrew Melnyk
University of Missouri, Columbia
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 how the first horn of Hempel's Dilemma can be avoided. The key is an account of what is required for the acceptance of physicalism according to which to accept physicalism does not require assigning to physicalism a high probability, merely a higher probability than is assigned to any of its relevant rivals. This account of acceptance is shown to satisfy all the intuitive demands of the scientific realist, so that to be a physicalist is simply to be a scientific realist regarding physicalism.
Keywords Physicalism  Physics  Physical  Acceptance of a theory  Hempel's Dilemma
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0022-362X
DOI jphil1997941217
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,008
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

On Characterizing the Physical.Jessica Wilson - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 131 (1):61-99.
Defining Physicalism.Alyssa Ney - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (5):1033-1048.
Physicalism as an Attitude.Alyssa Ney - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (1):1 - 15.
Global Supervenience and Dependence.Karen Bennett - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (3):501-529.

View all 49 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Current Physics and 'the Physical'.Agustín Vicente - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):393-416.
What is Physicalism?Benedikt Paul Göcke - 2009 - Ratio 22 (3):291-307.
On the Causal Completeness of Physics.Agustín Vicente - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):149 – 171.
Non-Reductive Physicalism?A. D. Smith - 1993 - In Howard M. Robinson (ed.), Objections to Physicalism. Oxford University Press.
A Mereological Characterization of Physicalism.David Pineda - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):243 – 266.
Physicalism and Ontological Holism.Michael Esfeld - 1999 - Metaphilosophy 30 (4):319-337.


Added to PP index

Total views
235 ( #47,290 of 2,505,154 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,577 of 2,505,154 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes