Philosophical Studies

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 301–320

How to be a type-C physicalist

Article

Abstract

This paper advances a version of physicalism which reconciles the “a priori entailment thesis” (APET) with the analytic independence of our phenomenal and physical vocabularies. The APET is the claim that, if physicalism is true, the complete truths of physics imply every other truth a priori. If so, “cosmic hermeneutics” is possible: a demon having only complete knowledge of physics could deduce every truth about the world. Analytic independence is a popular physicalist explanation for the apparent “epistemic gaps” between phenomenal and physical truths. The two are generally seen as incompatible, since the demon’s deductions seem to presuppose analytic connections between physical and phenomenal terms. I begin by arguing, in support of the APET, that implications from the complete truths of physics to phenomenal truths cannot be a posteriori. Such implications are (according to the physicalist) necessarily true. But they cannot be Kripke-style a posteriori necessities, since (according to the physicalist) the complete truths of physics fix any relevant a posteriori facts about the reference of terms. I then show how the physicalist can turn the tables: the demon can exploit the physical fixing of reference to bridge the gap between the vocabularies, by deducing when phenomenal and physical terms co-refer. This opens the way for a “type-C” physicalism, which accepts in-principle deducibility while still appealing to analytic independence to explain why we (who are not demons) find it impossible to see phenomenal-physical connections a priori.

Keywords

Phenomenal consciousness Type-C Physicalism A priori entailment thesis Analytic independence Cosmic hermeneutics 

References

  1. Balog, K. (2012). Acquaintance and the mind-body problem. In C. Hill & S. Gozzano (Eds.), New perspectives on type identity: The mental, the physical. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Block, N., & Stalnaker, R. (1999). Conceptual analysis, dualism and the explanatory gap. Philosophical Review, 108, 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Byrne, A. (1999). Cosmic hermeneutics. Philosophical Perspectives, 13, 347–383.Google Scholar
  4. Chalmers, D. J. (1996). The conscious mind: In search of a fundamental theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. J. (2002). Does conceivability entail possibility? In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and possibility (pp. 145–200). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chalmers, D. J. (2003). Consciousness and its place in nature. In Blackwell guide to the philosophy of mind (pp. 102–142). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Chalmers, D. J. (2007). Phenomenal concepts and the explanatory gap. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: New essays on consciousness and physicalism (pp. 167–194). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chalmers, D. J. (2010). The two-dimensional argument against materialism. In The character of consciousness (pp. 141–206). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chalmers, D. J., & Jackson, F. (2001). Conceptual analysis and reductive explanation. Philosophical Review, 110, 315–361.Google Scholar
  10. Conee, E. (1994). Phenomenal knowledge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 72, 136–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crane, T. (2003). Subjective facts. In H. Lillehammer & G. Rodriguez-Pereyra (Eds.), Real metaphysics (pp. 68–83). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Crane, T. (2009). Intentionalism. In B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, & S. Walter (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of mind (pp. 474–493). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dennett, D. (1990). Quining qualia. In W. G. Lycan (Ed.), Mind and cognition: A reader (pp. 519–547). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Dowell, J. L. (2008). A priori entailment and conceptual analysis: Making room for type-C physicalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 86, 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hempel, C. (1969). Reduction: Ontological and linguistic facets. In S. Morgenbesser (Ed.), Essays in honour of ernest nagel (pp. 179–199). New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hill, C. S. (2009). Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Horgan, T. (1983). Supervenience and cosmic hermeneutics. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 22, 19–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomenal qualia. Philosophical Quarterly, 32, 127–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn't know. Journal of Philosophy, 83, 291–295.Google Scholar
  20. Jackson, F. (1993). Armchair metaphysics. In J. Hawthorne & M. Michael (Eds.), Philosophy in mind: The place of philosophy in the study of mind. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  21. Jackson, F. (1998). From metaphysics to ethics: A defence of conceptual analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kallestrup, J. (2006). Physicalism, conceivability and strong necessities. Synthese, 151, 273–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kripke, S. (1981). Naming and necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  24. Levine, J. (1983). Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 64, 354–361.Google Scholar
  25. Levine, J. (2001). Purple haze. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lewis, D. (1999). Reduction of mind. In Papers in metaphysics and epistemology (pp. 291–324). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Loar, B. (1998). Phenomenal states. In Block, Flanagan & Guzeldere (Eds.), The nature of consciousness: Philosophical debates. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lycan, W. G. (1987). Consciousness. Cambridge: Bradford.Google Scholar
  29. McGinn, C. (1989). Can we solve the mind-body problem? Mind, 98, 349–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McLaughlin, B. (1994). Varieties of supervenience. In E. Savellos & Ü. Yalchin (Eds.), Supervenience (pp. 16–59). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Melnyk, A. (2003). A physicalist manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nagel, T. (1974). What is it like to be a bat? The Philosophical Review, 83, 435–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nemirov, L. (2007). So this is what it’s like: A defence of the ability hypothesis. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: New essays on consciousness and physicalism (pp. 32–51). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Papineau, D. (2002). Thinking about consciousness (2004 paperback edn.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Papineau, D. (2007). Phenomenal and perceptual concepts. In Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge (pp. 111–143). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Perry, J. (1979). The problem of the essential indexical. Noûs, 13, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoljar, D. (2005). Physicalism and phenomenal concepts. Mind and Language, 20, 469–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stoljar, D. (2006). Ignorance and imagination: The epistemic origin of the problem of consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tye, M. (1999). Phenomenal consciousness: The explanatory gap as cognitive illusion. Mind, 108, 705–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wedgwood, R. (2009). The normativity of the intentional. In B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, & S. Walter (Eds.), The oxford handbook of philosophy of mind (pp. 421–436). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. White, S. L. (2007). Property dualism, phenomenal concepts, and the semantic premise. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: New essays on consciousness and physicalism (pp. 210–248). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yablo, S. (2002). Coulda, woulda, shoulda. In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and possibility (pp. 441–492). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christ’s CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations