Putting the Physicalism in Gappy Physicalism


Physicalism: efficacy and complexity.


I’ve already said what is gappy about gappy physicalism [link]. I turn now to say a few key remarks about the physicalism of gappy physicalism. It is difficult to give a satisfactory full account of what physicalism is supposed to consist in. (This has been pointed out by several authors. See, e.g., Montero & Papineau (2005).) Fortunately we can make do in the current discussion by identifying a few key features. There are two and both concern qualia. Crucial aspects for the current paper are the ontological complexity and causal efficacy of qualia.

According to physicalism, no ontological simples are phenomenal. If there are ontological simples, that is, if it isn’t complexes all the way down, they are non-phenomenal. This sketch allows us to bypass the vexing question of what exactly it is that makes something physical. It will serve the purposes of the present paper to contrast physicalists from anti-physicalist opponents such as dualists to characterize one of the core doctrines of physicalism as the view that everything phenomenal is ontologically complex and that these complexes ultimately resolve into comparative simples that are non-phenomenal.

The second core doctrine of physicalism of note for the current discussion is that, according to physicalism, no qualia lack physical effects. The physicalist holds that one and the same property that is a mental state’s being such that there’s something it’s like to have it also is one of the causal powers of the mental state. Physicalists, then, deny qualia epiphenomenalism.

Previous posts:

1. Swamp Mary Semantics: A Case for Physicalism Without Gaps

2. There’s Something About Swamp Mary

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