Minds and Machines

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 247–260 | Cite as

Realization Relations in Metaphysics

  • Umut BaysanEmail author


“Realization” is a technical term that is used by metaphysicians, philosophers of mind, and philosophers of science to denote some dependence relation that is thought to obtain between higher-level properties and lower-level properties. It is said that mental properties are realized by physical properties; functional and computational properties are realized by first-order properties that occupy certain causal/functional roles; dispositional properties are realized by categorical properties; so on and so forth. Given this wide usage of the term “realization”, it would be right to think that there might be different dependence relations that this term denotes in different cases. Any relation that is aptly picked out by this term can be taken to be a realization relation. The aim of this state-of-the-field article is to introduce the central questions about the concept of realization, and provide formulations of a number of realization relations. In doing so, I identify some theoretical roles realization relations should play, and discuss some theories of realization in relation to these theoretical roles.


Dependence Explanation Functionalism Mental causation Physicalism Realization 



I would like to thank two anonymous referees of Minds and Machines for their comments. The work for this article was carried out thanks to a grant provided by The Durham Emergence Project funded by the John Templeton Foundation (grant number: 40485).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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