John Heil: The Universe As We Find It
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The hard problems of philosophy of mind arise because of unacknowledged background assumptions or hidden ontological “Big Pictures,” says John Heil in his new book The Universe As We Find It. For instance, there are some well-known problems for non-reductive physicalism, the popular view that every mental thing is a physical thing but that mental properties are not reducible to physical properties. Heil wants to displace the “Big Picture” behind non-reductive physicalism in favor of an ontology that dissolves long-standing problems and is independently plausible. For example, it’ll take fundamental or “serious” ontology, Heil says, in order to solve the “exclusion problem,” i.e., the problem that unreduced mental properties seem to compete with the physical properties that “realize” them, more about which below.
Heil suggests we start at the beginning. Our world—the universe as we find it—consists of objects with properties. But what are objects? What are properties? And how are they...