Tn this paper I explore and to an extent defend HS. The main philosophical challenges to HS come from philosophical views that say that nomic concepts-laws, chance, and causation-denote features of the world that fail to supervene on non-nomic features. Lewis rejects these views and has labored mightily to construct HS accounts of nomic concepts. His account of laws is fundamental to his program, since his accounts of the other nomic notions rely on it. Recently, a number of philosophers have (...) criticized Lewis's account, and Humean accounts of laws generally, for delivering, at best, a pale imitation ofthe genuine item. These philosophers think that the notion of law needed by science requires laws-if there are any-to be fundamental features of our world that are completely distinct from and not supervenient on the particular facts that they explain. I side with Lewis against these philosophers. Here I will argue that although Lewis-laws don't fulfill all our philosophical expectations, they do play the roles that science needs laws to play. The metaphysics and epistemology of Humean laws, and more specifically, Lewis-laws, are in much better shape than the metaphysics and epistemology of the main anti-Humean alternatives. However, I do have inisgivings about Lewis's account. Both he and his critics assume that the basic properties are so individuated so that the laws are not metaphysically necessary. If this assumption is rejected, then the question of Humean supervenience lapses. I conclude with a brief discussion of this position. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim is one of the most preeminent and most influential contributors to the philosophy of mind and metaphysics. This collection of essays presents the core of his work on supervenience and mind with two sets of postscripts especially written for the book. The essays focus on such issues as the nature of causation and events, what dependency relations other than causal relations connect facts and events, the analysis of supervenience, and the mind-body problem. A central problem in (...) the philosophy of mind is the problem of explaining how the mind can causally influence bodily processes. Professor Kim explores this problem in detail, criticizes the nonreductionist solution of it, and offers a modified reductionist solution of his own. Both professional philosophers and their graduate students will find this an invaluable collection. (shrink)
The physicalist thesis that all entities are nothing over and above physical entities is often interpreted as appealing to a supervenience-based account of "nothing over and aboveness”, where, schematically, the A-entities are nothing over and above the B-entities if the A-entities supervene on the B-entities. The main approaches to filling in this schema correspond to different ways of characterizing the modal strength, the supervenience base, or the supervenience connection at issue. I consider each approach in turn, and (...) argue that the resulting formulation of physicalism is compatible with physicalism’s best traditional rival: a naturalist emergentism. Others have argued that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism fail. My aim here, besides addressing the full spectrum of supervenience-based approaches, is to show how certain philosophical and scientific theses concerning naturalism, properties, and laws give us new reasons to think that supervenience-based formulations of physicalism are untenable. (shrink)
Debunking arguments against both moral and mathematical realism have been pressed, based on the claim that our moral and mathematical beliefs are insensitive to the moral/mathematical facts. In the mathematical case, I argue that the role of Hume’s Principle as a conceptual truth speaks against the debunkers’ claim that it is intelligible to imagine the facts about numbers being otherwise while our evolved responses remain the same. Analogously, I argue, the conceptual supervenience of the moral on the natural speaks (...) presents a difficulty for the debunker’s claim that, had the moral facts been otherwise, our evolved moral beliefs would have remained the same. (shrink)
This paper is a survey of the supervenience challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the challenge, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
Supervenience is one of the 'hot discoveries' of analytic philosophy, and this collection of essays on the topic represents an examination of it and its application to major areas of philosophy. The interest in supervenience has much to do with the flexibility of the concept. To say that x supervenes on y indicates a degree of dependence without committing one to the view that x can be reduced to y. Thus supervenience is a relationship that has the (...) potential of replacing the traditional notion of dependence, while performing at least part of the function reductive relationships were supposed to fulfil. Moreover, since it is a topic-neutral concept, supervenience has a wide range of applicability. (shrink)
Two versions of global supervenience have recently been distinguished from each other. I introduce a third version, which is more likely what people had in mind all along. However, I argue that one of the three versions is equivalent to strong supervenience in every sense that matters, and that neither of the other two versions counts as a genuine determination relation. I conclude that global supervenience has little metaphysically distinctive value.
Supervenient libertarianism maintains that indeterminism may exist at a supervening agency level, consistent with determinism at a subvening physical level. It seems as if this approach has the potential to break the longstanding deadlock in the free will debate, since it concedes to the traditional incompatibilist that agents can only do otherwise if they can do so in their actual circumstances, holding the past and the laws constant, while nonetheless arguing that this ability is compatible with physical determinism. However, we (...) argue that supervenient libertarianism faces some serious problems, and that it fails to break us free from this deadlock within the free will debate. (shrink)
The existence and importance of supervenience principles for identity across times and worlds have been noted, but insufficient attention has been paid to their precise nature. Such attention is repaid with philosophical dividends. The issues in the formulation of the supervenience principles are two. The first involves the relevant variety of supervenience: that variety is global, but there are in fact two versions of global supervenience that must be distinguished. The second involves the subject matter: the (...) names “identity over time” and “identity across worlds” are misnomers, for in neither case is identity at issue. The philosophical dividends then follow. Nathan Salmon’s argument that identity over time needs no “grounds” in matters of qualitative fact can be answered, as can an argument offered by many, that coincident objects would require objectionably ungrounded differences in identities across times and worlds. (shrink)
It is widely held, even among nonnaturalists, that the moral supervenes on the natural. This is to say that for any two metaphysically possible worlds w and w′, and for any entities x in w and y in w′, any isomorphism between x and y that preserves the natural properties preserves the moral properties. In this paper, I put forward a conceivability argument against moral supervenience, assuming non-naturalism. First, I argue that though utilitarianism may be true, and the trolley (...) driver is permitted to kill the one to save the five, there is a conceivable scenario that is just like our world in all natural respects, yet at which deontology is true, and the trolly driver is not permitted to kill the one to save the five. I then argue that in the special case of morality, it is possible to infer from the conceivability of such a scenario to its possibility. It follows that supervenience is false. (shrink)
THIS PAPER ARGUES THAT GLOBAL SUPERVENIENCE IS NOT\nEQUIVALENT TO KIM'S STRONG SUPERVENIENCE (AS HE HAS ARGUED\nIT IS) AND THAT IT DOES NOT ENTAIL THE TYPE OR TOKEN\nREDUCIBILITY OF THE SUPERVENIENT PROPERTIES TO THE\nPROPERTIES UPON WHICH THEY SUPERVENE (AS STRONG\nSUPERVENIENCE DOES). IT THEN TURNS TO AN EXAMINATION OF THE\nARGUMENT THAT GLOBAL SUPERVENIENCE IS EQUIVALENT TO\nIMPLICIT DEFINABILITY WHICH ACCORDING TO BETH'S THEOREM\nENTAILS EXPLICIT DEFINABILITY. THE AUTHOR HOPES TO SHOW\nTHAT GLOBAL SUPERVENIENCE IS A DISTINCT AND ESPECIALLY\nINTERESTING RELATION WHICH CAPTURES (...) ASPECTS OF THE\nRELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHYSICAL PROPERTIES AND THOSE\nPROPERTIES WHICH ARE DETERMINED BY THEM THAT OTHER\nRELATIONS DO NOT DO JUSTICE TO. (shrink)
When it comes to evaluating reductive hypotheses in metaphysics, supervenience arguments are the tools of the trade. Jaegwon Kim and Frank Jackson have argued, respectively, that strong and global supervenience are sufficient for reduction, and others have argued that supervenience theses stand in need of the kind of explanation that reductive hypotheses are particularly suited to provide. Simon Blackburn's arguments about what he claims are the specifically problematic features of the supervenience of the moral on the (...) natural have also been influential. But most discussions of these arguments have proceeded under the strong and restrictive assumptions of the S5 modal logic. In this paper we aim to remedy that defect, by illustrating in an accessible way what happens to these arguments under relaxed assumptions and why. The occasion is recent work by Ralph Wedgwood, who seeks to defend non-reductive accounts of moral and mental properties together with strong supervenience, but to evade both the arguments of Kim and Jackson and the explanatory challenge by accepting only the weaker, B, modal logic. In addition to drawing general lessons about what happens to supervenience arguments under relaxed assumptions, our goal is therefore to shed some light on both the virtues and costs of Wedgwood's proposal. (shrink)
The claim that the having of aesthetic properties supervenes on the having of non-aesthetic properties has been widely discussed and, in various ways, defended. In this paper, I will show that even if it is sometimes true that a supervenience relation holds between aesthetic properties and the 'subvenient' non-aesthetic ones, it is not the interesting relation in the neighbourhood. As we shall see, a richer, asymmetric and irreflexive relation is required, and I shall defend the claim that the more-and-more-popular (...) relation of grounding does a much better job than supervenience. (shrink)
In this paper the concept of supervenience is employed to explain the relationship between fitness as employed in the theory of natural selection and population biology and the physical, behavioral and ecological properties of organisms that are the subjects of lower level theories in the life sciences. The aim of this analysis is to account simultaneously for the fact that the theory of natural selection is a synthetic body of empirical claims, and for the fact that it continues to (...) be misconstrued, even by biologists, for a tautological system. The notion of supervenience is then employed to provide a new statement of the relation of Mendelian predicates to molecular ones in order to provide for the commensurability and potential reducibility of Mendelian to molecular genetics in a way that circumvents the theoretical complications which appear to stand in the way of such a reduction. (shrink)
Non-reductive physicalists have made a number of attempts to provide the relation of supervenience between levels of properties with enough bite to analyze interesting cases without at the same time losing the relation's acceptability for the physicalist. I criticize some of these proposals and suggest an alternative supplementation of the supervenience relation by imposing a requirement of robustness which is motivated by the notion of structural stability familiar from dynamical systems theory. Robust supervenience, I argue, captures what (...) the non-reductive physicalist wants from supervenience; most importantly, it provides a natural background for reconstructing the notion of (diachronic) property emergence in a way acceptable to physicalists. (shrink)
Supervenience in most of its guises entails necessary coextension. Thus theoretical supervenience entails nomically necessary coextension. Kim's result, thus strengthened, has yet to hit home. I suspect that many supervenience enthusiasts would cool at necessary coextension: they didn't mean to be saying anything quite so strong. Furthermore, nomically necessary coextension can be a good reason for property identification, leading to reducibility in principle. This again is more than many supervenience theorists bargained for. They wanted supervenience (...) without reducibility. It is not always available for this mediating role. (shrink)
This paper examines Jaegwon Kim's Supervenience Argument (SA) against nonreductive physicalism, concentrating on Kim's response to two of the most important objections against the SA: First, the Overdetermination Argument, according to which Kim has no convincing argument against the possibility that mental causation might be a case of genuine or systematic overdetermination; second, the Generalization Argument, according to which the SA would entail that causation at any level gives way to causation at the next lower level, thereby leading to (...) an untenable all-encompassing epiphenomenalism. It is argued that as of yet, Kim has failed to develop a coherent overall position, since various moves he makes in response to these criticisms are strangely at odds with other parts of his philosophical position. (shrink)
The International Research library of Philosophy collects in book form a wide range of important and influential essays in philosophy, drawn predominantly from English language journals. Each volume in the library deals with a field of enquiry which has received significant attention in philosophy in the last 25 years and is edited by a philosopher noted in that field.
Persons think. Bodies, time-slices of persons, and brains might also think. They have the necessary neural equipment. Thus, there seems to be more than one thinker in your chair. Critics assert that this is too many thinkers and that we should reject ontologies that allow more than one thinker in your chair. I argue that cases of multiple thinkers are innocuous and that there is not too much thinking. Rather, the thinking shared between, for example, persons and their bodies is (...) exactly what we should expect at the intersection of part sharing and the supervenience of the mental on the physical. I end by responding to the overcrowding objection, the personhood objection, the personal-pronoun reference problem and the epistemic objection. (shrink)
Do grounding claims entail corresponding supervenience claims? The question matters, as a positive answer would help grounding theorists address worries that their hyperintensional primitive is obscure, and also increase the argumentative strategies that are available within ground-theoretic frameworks for metaphysical inquiry. Leuenberger (Erkenntnis 79:227–240, 2014a) argues for a negative response, by specifying some candidate principles of entailment and then claiming that each of them is subject to counterexamples. In this paper, I critically assess those principles and the objections he (...) raises against them, and advocate a novel entailment principle that overcomes all the problems suffered by those other principles. The principle I defend places a supervenience-based constraint on grounding claims, and secures a substantive connection between grounding and modality, weaker than necessitation. (shrink)
Expressivists traditionally explain normative supervenience by saying it is a conceptual truth. I argue against this tradition in two steps. First, I show the modal claim that stands in need of explanation has been stated imprecisely. Classic arguments in metaethics for normative supervenience and those that rely on it as a premise presuppose a constraint on the supervenience base that is rarely (if ever) made explicit: the repeatability of the non-normative properties on which the normative supervenes. Non-normative (...) properties are repeatable when it is possible for numerically distinct individuals to share them. Second, I show if the modal truth that stands in need of explanation entails that there are individuals exactly alike in repeatable non-normative respects that cannot normatively differ, then standard expressivist accounts of normative supervenience as a conceptual truth are unsuccessful. Expressivist metasemantics for normative terms, together with constitutive facts about the non-cognitive attitudes essentially involved in normative thought, strongly suggest that repeatable supervenience could not be a conceptual truth. I argue, finally, that although repeatable supervenience bears the marks of a conceptual truth, expressivists should be content to treat it as an ordinary normative truth, and to explain it the same way they explain other normative truths. (shrink)
The paper is divided into two parts, each with subsections. In the first part, I shall discuss some matters that have been extensively examined by Kim, namely what the basic types of supervenience are and how they are pairwise logically related; in the course of this discussion, I shall distinguish a weak from a strong notion of global supervenience. In the second part, I shall examine supervenience in a context in which Kim has not: I shall attempt (...) to solve a puzzle that arises when we consider supervenience relations involving vague properties and/or predicates. This is, of course, not a special case of property/predicate supervenience, but the typical one: for virtually all properties/predicates are vague. The two parts of the paper stand independently of each other. Of the discussion in the first part, essentially all that is presupposed in the second is the notion of “world strong supervenience” defined in section 1 of part I. (shrink)
The representational theory of phenomenal experience is often stated in terms of a supervenience thesis: Byrne recently characterises it as the thesis that “there can be no difference in phenomenal character without a difference in content”, while according to Tye, “[a]t a minimum, the thesis is one of supervenience: necessarily, experiences that are alike in their representational contents are alike in their phenomenal character.” Consequently, much of the debate over whether representationalism is true centres on purported counter-examples – (...) that is to say, purported failures of supervenience. The refutation of putative counter-examples has been, it seems to me, by and large successful. But there is a certain class of these for which the representationalist response has been something less than completely convincing. These are the cross-modality cases. I will explain what I mean, and then argue that the response in question is not only unconvincing but actually undermines the representationalist position. (shrink)
The discussion of supervenience is replete with the use of in?nitary logical operations. For instance, one may often ?nd a supervenient property that corresponds to an in?nite collection of supervenience-base properties, and then ask about the in?nite disjunction of all those base properties. This is crucial to a well-known argument of Kim (1984) that supervenience comes nearer to reduction than many non-reductive physicalists suppose. It also appears in recent discussions such as Jackson (1998).
For three decades the writings of Jaegwon Kim have had a major influence in philosophy of mind and in metaphysics. Sixteen of his philosophical papers, together with several new postscripts, are collected in Kim . The publication of this collection prompts the present essay. After some preliminary remarks in the opening section, in Section 2 I will briefly describe Kim's philosophical 'big picture' about the relation between the mental and the physical. In Section 3 I will situate Kim's approach on (...) the larger philosophical landscape, vis-à-vis various other approaches frequently discussed in contemporary philosophy of mind. This comparative discussion will further illuminate Kim's own position, and also will serve as groundwork for subsequent discussion. In Section 4 I will point out certain persistent internal tensions in Kim's philosophical position on the mind--body problem, tensions that emerge especially clearly against the backdrop of Section 3's comparative discussion of Kim's position relative to various competing positions. In the remainder of the paper I will focus on two issues at the heart of his position, with particular attention to what he says about them in some of the more recent papers and the postscripts in Kim . First, how should a materialist understand the notion that the mental is 'determined' by the physical? More specifically, what role, if any, should be played by the concept of supervenience in explicating this kind of determination relation? Kim's views on this matter have recently changed, and I will discuss the issue with particular attention to his own latest remarks on it. This is the business of Section 5. Second, need a viable materialism assert that mentalistic psychology is reducible to neurobiology? More specifically, should a materialist insist on reducibility, despite the currently influential line of argument used by non-reductive materialists, the 'multiple realization' argument? On this matter too, Kim's views have changed somewhat; again, I will discuss the issue with particular attention to his recent thinking. This is the business of Section 6. (shrink)
In his recent book, Jaegwon Kim argues thatpsychophysical supervenience withoutpsychophysical reduction renders mentalcausation `unintelligible'. He also claimsthat, contrary to popular opinion, his argumentagainst supervenient mental causation cannot begeneralized so as to threaten the causalefficacy of other `higher-level' properties:e.g., the properties of special sciences likebiology. In this paper, I argue that none ofthe considerations Kim advances are sufficientto keep the supervenience argument fromgeneralizing to all higher-level properties,and that Kim's position in fact entails thatonly the properties of fundamental physicalparticles are (...) causally efficacious. (shrink)
A prominent objection to supervenience physicalism is that a definition of physicalism in terms of supervenience allows for physicalism to be compatible with nonphysicalist outlooks, such as certain forms of emergentism. I take as my starting point a recent defense of supervenience physicalism from this objection. According to this line of thought, the subvenient base for emergent properties cannot be said to be purely physical; rather, it is “polluted” with emergent features in virtue of necessarily giving rise (...) to them. Thus, if emergentism is true, it is false that everything supervenes on physical properties. I argue that this gives way to a new challenge for supervenience physicalism. The challenge, roughly, is to distinguish the emergentist’s “polluted” base from a physical supervenience base; that is, to give conditions under which the subvenient base is not “polluted” by supervenient properties. The problem, I argue, is that it is hard to see how this can be done without collapsing supervenience physicalism into alternative approaches to physicalism. I thus argue that if the present defense of supervenience physicalism succeeds in defending the adequacy of a supervenience-based definition of physicalism, it does so by compromising its uniqueness. (shrink)
Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection to presentism employ a fundamentally tensed account of the relationship between truth and being. On this view, the truth of a proposition concerning the past supervenes on how things are, in the present, along with how things were, in the past. This tensed approach to truthmaking arises in response to pressure placed on presentists to abandon the standard response to the truthmaker objection, whereby one invokes presently existing entities as the supervenience base (...) for the truth of past-directed propositions. In this paper, I argue that a fundamentally tensed approach to truthmaking is implausible because it requires the existence of cross-temporal supervenience relations, which are anathema to presentism. (shrink)
Two concepts of supervenience, "strong supervenience" and "weak supervenience," are characterized and contrasted, And their major properties established. Supervenience as commonly characterized by philosophers is shown to correspond to weak supervenience, Whereas the intended concept is often the stronger relation. Strong supervenience is applied to explicate the notion of "supervenient causation," and it is argued that macro-Causal relations can be understood as cases of supervenient causation, And that causal relations involving psychological events, Too, Can (...) be so understood. (shrink)
Some recent work in the philosophy of quantum mechanics has suggested that quantum systems can be thought of as non-separable and therefore non-individual, in some sense, in Bell and E.P.R. type situations. This suggestion is set in the context of previous work regarding the individuality of quantal particles and it is argued that such entities can be considered as individuals if their non-classical statistical correlations are understood in terms of non-supervenient relations holding between them. We conclude that such relations are (...) strongly non-supervenient in Cleland's sense and note a possible connection between this idea and the realist quantum logic programme. (shrink)
It is shown that Lewisâ ontological doctrine of Humean supervenience incorporates at its foundation the so-called separability principle of classical physics. In view of the systematic violation of the latter within quantum mechanics, the claim that contemporary physical science may posit non-supervenient relations beyond the spatiotemporal ones is reinforced on a foundational basis concerning constraints on the state representation of physical systems. Depending on the mode of assignment of states to quantum systems â unit state vectors versus statistical density (...) operators â we distinguish between strongly and weakly non-Humean, non-supervenient relations. It is demonstrated that in either case, the relations of quantum entanglement constitute prototypical examples of irreducible physical relations that do not supervene upon a spatiotemporal arrangement of Humean qualities, weakening, thereby, the thesis of Humean supervenience. In this respect, the status of Lewisâ recombination principle is examined, whereas his conception of lawhood is critically investigated. It is concluded that the assumption of ontological reductionism, as expressed in Lewisâ Humean doctrine, cannot be regarded as a reliable code of the nature of the physical world and its contents. It is proposed instead that due to the undeniable existence of non-supervenient relations, a metaphysic of relations of a moderate kind ought to be acknowledged as an indispensable part of our understanding of the natural world at a fundamental level. (shrink)
Co-location is compatible with the doctrine of microphysical supervenience. Microphysical supervenience involves intrinsic qualitative properties that supervene on microphysical structures. Two different objects, such as Socrates and the lump of tissue of which he is constituted, can be co-located objects that supervene on different sets of properties. Some of the properties are shared, but others, such as the human-determining properties or the lump-determining properties, supervene only on one object or the other. Therefore, properties at the same location can (...) be arranged so as to constitute more than one object at the same time. (shrink)
One aim philosophers have in constructing moral theories is to identify the natural or non-Moral characteristics that make actions right or obligatory, Things good, Or persons virtuous. Yet we have no clear understanding of what it is for certain of a thing's non-Moral properties to be responsible for its moral properties. Given the recent interest in the concept of supervenience one might think that the dependence of moral on natural properties could be explained in terms of it. Unfortunately, None (...) of the definitions of supervenience offered so far is adequate to this task, And indeed, There is some reason to think that this dependence relation is ultimately mysterious. (shrink)
The philosophical technical term "supervenience" is frequently used in the philosophy of mind as a concise way of characterizing the core idea of physicalism in a manner that is neutral with respect to debates between reductive physicalists and nonreductive physicalists. I argue against this alleged neutrality and side with reductive physicalists. I am especially interested here in debates between psychoneural reductionists and nonreductive functionalist physicalists. Central to my arguments will be considerations concerning how best to articulate the spirit of (...) the idea of supervenience. I argue for a version of supervenience, "fine-grained supervenience," which is the claim that if, at a given time, a single entity instantiates two distinct mental properties, it must do so in virtue of instantiating two distinct physical properties. I argue further that despite initial appearances to the contrary, such a construal of supervenience can be embraced only by reductive physicalists. (shrink)
Theodore Sider distinguishes two notions of global supervenience: strong global supervenience and weak global supervenience. He then discusses some applications to general metaphysical questions. Most interestingly, Sider employs the weak notion in order to undermine a familiar argument against coincident distinct entities. In what follows, I reexamine the two notions and distinguish them from a third, intermediate, notion. I argue that weak global supervenience is not an adequate notion of dependence; weak global supervenience does not (...) capture certain assumptions about coincidence relations; these assumptions are better accommodated by the stronger notion of intermediate global supervenience; intermediate global supervenience, however, is also not an adequate notion of dependence; and strong global supervenience is an adequate notion of dependence. It also fits in with anti-individualism about the mental. It does not, however, serve to rebut arguments against coincident entities. (shrink)
Supervenience is a topic-neutral, broadly logical relation between classes of properties or facts. In a slogan, A supervenes on B if and only if there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference. The first part of this paper considers different ways in which that slogan has been cashed out. The second part discusses applications of concepts of supervenience, focussing on the question whether they may provide an explication of determination theses such as physicalism.
THE ARTICLE IS AN ATTACK ON THE MYSTERY OR REDUCTION DILEMMA FOR SUPERVENIENCE. THIS IS THE DILEMMA THAT EITHER SUPERVENIENCE IS MYSTERIOUS OR THE SUPERVENIENT IS REDUCIBLE TO THE SUBVENIENT. A NONMYSTERIOUS, NONREDUCTIVE ACCOUNT OF SUPERVENIENCE IS PROPOSED, BASED ON THE METAPHYSICAL SPECULATION THAT SUPERVENIENT TERMS AND PHRASES APPLY TO OBJECTS WHOSE INTRINSIC NATURES THEMSELVES HAVE AN APPROPRIATE PROPERTY. SINCE THIS IS A PROPERTY OF A NATURE IT IS A PROPERTY OF A PROPERTY, THAT IS, A GRAND-PROPERTY. (...)SUPERVENIENCE FOLLOWS FROM THIS HYPOTHESIS QUITE NONMYSTERIOUSLY, BY APPEAL TO THE INDISCERNIBILITY OF IDENTICALS. THE METAPHYSICAL SPECULATIONS REQUIRED MIGHT SEEM EXTRAVAGANT. A LARGE PART OF THE PAPER IS DESIGNED TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE NOT EXTRAVAGANT. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim and others have claimed that (strong) psychophysical supervenience entails the reducibility of mental properties to physical properties. I argue that this claim is unwarranted with respect to epistemic (explanatory) reducibility (either of a global or of a local sort), as well as with respect to ontological reducibility. I then attempt to show that a robust version of nonreductive materialism (which I call supervenient token-physicalism) can be defended against the charge that nonreductive materialism leads to epiphenomenalism in failing (...) to account for the causal or explanatory relevance of mental properties. (shrink)
According to many, that the normative supervenes on the non-normative is a truism of normative discourse. This chapter argues that those committed to more specific moral, aesthetic, and epistemic supervenience theses should also hold : As a matter of conceptual necessity, whenever something has a normative property, it has a base property or collection of base properties that metaphysically necessitates the normative one. The main aim in this chapter is to show that none of the available arguments establish, or (...) indeed the relevant epistemic, aesthetic, and moral supervenience theses. is not a conceptual truth. This has considerable dialectical importance. One interesting upshot is that it affords non-reductivists and non-naturalists a novel way of resisting certain prominent supervenience-based objections to their views, including objections that formulate supervenience as a purely metaphysical thesis. (shrink)
In 1971, Simon Blackburn worked out an argument against moral realism appealing to the supervenience of the moral realm on the natural realm.1 He has since revised the argument, in part to take account of objections,2 but the basic structure remains intact. While commentators3 seem to agree that the argument is not successful, they have not agreed upon what goes wrong. I believe this is because no attempt has been made to see what happens when Blackburn's argument is addressed (...) to particular varieties of moral realism. As I see it, we must look to these various brands if we want to understand just where the concept of supervenience can be usefully employed. (shrink)