How superduper does a physicalist supervenience need to be?

Philosophical Quarterly 49 (194):33-52 (1999)
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Abstract

Note: this is the first published presentation and defense of the 'proper subset strategy' for making sense of non-reductive physicalism or the associated notion of realization; this is sometimes, inaccurately, called "Shoemaker's subset strategy"; if people could either call it the 'subset strategy' or better yet, add my name to the mix I would appreciate it. Horgan claims that physicalism requires "superdupervenience" -- supervenience plus robust ontological explanation of the supervenient in terms of the base properties. I argue that Horgan's account fails to rule out physically unacceptable emergence. I rather suggest that this and other unacceptable possibilities may be ruled out by requiring that each individual causal power in the set associated with a given supervenient property be numerically identical with a causal power in the set associated with its base property. I go on to show that a wide variety of physicalist accounts, both reductive and non-reductive, are implicitly or explicitly designed to meet this condition, and so are more similar than they seem. In particular, non-reductive physicalism accounts typically appeal to a relation plausibly ensuring that the powers of a higher-level property are a proper subset of those of its physical base property.

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Author's Profile

Jessica M. Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough

Citations of this work

No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings.David John Chalmers (ed.) - 2002 - New York: Oxford University Press USA.
Physicalism.Daniel Stoljar - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):799-825.
A determinable-based account of metaphysical indeterminacy.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4):359-385.

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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap.Joseph Levine - 1983 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October):354-61.

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