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Physicalism and Its Prospects

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Title: Physicalism and Its Prospects
Author: Stevens, Christian
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Bailey, Andrew
Abstract: In this thesis I explore and defend physicalism—the view that there is ‘nothing over and above’ the physical. Part of the challenge for physicalists is to make this slogan precise. They should provide a plausible account of the relation that everything must stand in to the physical in order for nothing to be ‘over and above’ it, as well as a reasonable characterization of ‘the physical’ itself. I elaborate and defend a common physicalist understanding of the ‘nothing over and above’ relation in terms of ‘global metaphysical supervenience,’ and introduce a novel strategy for characterizing the physical that sidesteps the most powerful objection to a ‘future physics’ definition of the physical—what Jessica Wilson (2006) has dubbed ‘the inappropriate extension worry.’ I then explore and respond to David Chalmers’ (1996) ‘zombie argument’ against physicalism, and Ned Block’s (2007) ‘overflow’ argument against the physicalist view of consciousness which I favour.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/5312
Date: 2013-01
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