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Acta Analytica

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 121–143 | Cite as

A Posteriori Physicalism and the Discrimination of Properties

  • Philip Woodward
Article
  • 91 Downloads

Abstract

According to a posteriori physicalism, phenomenal properties are physical properties, despite the unbridgeable cognitive gap that holds between phenomenal concepts and physical concepts. Current debates about a posteriori physicalism turn on what I call “the perspicuity principle”: it is impossible for a suitably astute cognizer to possess concepts of a certain sort—viz., narrow concepts—without being able to tell whether the referents of those concepts are the same or different. The perspicuity principle tends to strike a posteriori physicalists as implausibly rationalistic; further, a posteriori physicalists maintain that even if the principle is applicable to many narrow concepts, phenomenal concepts have unique features that render them inferentially isolated from other narrow concepts (a dialectical move known as “the phenomenal concept strategy” (PCS)). I argue, on the contrary, that the case for the perspicuity principle is quite strong. Moreover, not only have versions of the PCS repeatedly failed, likely, all versions will, given the strange combination of lucidity and opacity that the PCS has to juggle (it requires that we come up with a lucid explanation of an irremediable cognitive blindspot). I conclude that a posteriori physicalists currently lack a principled objection to classic anti-physicalist arguments.

Notes

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyValparaiso UniversityValparaisoUSA

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