How to be a (sort of) A Priori physicalist

Philosophical Studies 131 (1):185-225 (2006)
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Abstract

What has come to be known as “a priori physicalism” is the thesis, roughly, that the non-physical truths in the actual world can be deduced a priori from a complete physical description of the actual world. To many contemporary philosophers, a priori physicalism seems extremely implausible. In this paper I distinguish two kinds of a priori physicalism. One sort – strict a priori physicalism – I reject as both unmotivated and implausible. The other sort – liberal a priori physicalism – I argue is both motivated and plausible. This variety of a priori physicalism insists that the necessitation of non-physical truths by the physical facts must be underwritten in a certain fashion by a priori knowledge, but the a priori knowledge need not amount to a simple deduction of the non-physical truths from a complete physical description of the world. Further, this sort of liberal a priori physicalism has the advantage that it offers hope for a genuinely satisfying account of how the physical facts manage to necessitate the facts about phenomenal consciousness – thereby in effect solving the “hard problem” of consciousness. The first half of the paper sets out the motivation for liberal a priori physicalism and its superiority to the strict version; the second half presents one strategy available to the liberal a priori physicalist for showing how consciousness can be accommodated in a purely physical world

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D. Gene Witmer
University of Florida

Citations of this work

Physicalism.Justin Tiehen - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):537-551.
Grounding, physicalism and necessity.Donnchadh O'Conaill - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (7):713-730.
A priori entailment and conceptual analysis: Making room for type-c physicalism.J. L. Dowell - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):93 – 111.

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References found in this work

Naming and Necessity: Lectures Given to the Princeton University Philosophy Colloquium.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Edited by Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel.
Naming and necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing about language. New York: Routledge. pp. 431-433.

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