You are on page 1of 36

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

Frank Jackson

1. Introduction
My defence of a priori physicalism will cover a fair amount of ground in a short space, so parts will inevitably be a little schematic but I trust the basic case for a priori physicalism will emerge. A priori physicalists agree with almost all physicalists in holding that physicalism is a contingent a posteriori truth about the nature of our world, including especially the nature of mind, and that it is a reductive thesis in the sense of being a doctrine about properties (and relations) as much as one about entities. Dual attribute theories of mind are rejected along with dual substance theories.1 We can spell out the common thread in reductive physicalisms as follows. The physical sciences – physics, chemistry, biology and their near relatives – give us a picture of what is in our world and what it is like. There are force fields and there are brains, and their natures in the sense of the properties and relations they instantiate are as delineated in those sciences. Call this picture the physical account of our world. According to it, our world is a huge aggregation of the entities of the physical sciences having just the properties and standing in just the relations given in those sciences – and that’s all it is. There are no gratuitous additions by way of kinds and entities. We know this account cannot be right as just stated. The physical sciences have serious gaps judged in their own terms, and it makes sense that filling these gaps will be more than a matter of rearranging the ingredients that currently appear in the physical sciences; it will be necessary to add some entities and properties.2 All the same, we physicalists urge that it is reasonable
* I have argued that a priori physicalism is the physicalism of choice on a number of occasions and in a number of papers (starting with Jackson (1980)). Thanks are due to discussions on these occasions, and to papers to the same general conclusion by David Lewis and David Chalmers. The first version of this paper was written for a symposium with Brian McLaughlin on a priori versus a posteriori physicalism and is indebted to the discussion on that occasion 1 That is to say, the common thread is reductive in the metaphysical sense. Of course some use ‘reductive’ to mean the or something close to the a priori thesis. 2 From here on I will use properties to cover relations.

252

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

to hold that were the gaps to be filled in – something which may or may not ever happen – the additions would not have anything especially to do with the mind (or economics) and the result would be a recognisable descendant of current physical theory. Physicalism in the reductive sense is then the doctrine that our world is nothing over and above a huge aggregation of the entities of this recognisable descendent, having just the properties that appear in this recognisable descendent, and this goes for the mind, our special concern here, as much as for wars and the economy.3 The two doctrines that mark out a priori physicalism from a posteriori physicalism relate to a consequence of physicalism as just characterised. If our world is physical without remainder, its physical nature necessitates its mental nature (and its economic nature etc.) in the strongest sense.4 Duplicate our world’s physical nature while adding nothing that is not necessitated by that nature, and you duplicate our world’s mental nature. This is widely agreed, give or take points of formulation, and is, I will take it, common ground in this symposium. What is up for debate is whether or not the agreed necessitation is a priori, or whether we should instead put it in the category of the necessary a posteriori. But here we need to distinguish two doctrines. The first doctrine characteristic of a priori physicalism is that our world’s physical nature a priori necessitates its mental nature. Just as the thesis of necessitation noted above to be common ground is not a thesis about words – it says that fixing the world’s physical nature fixes its mental nature, so the first doctrine characteristic of a priori physicalism is about natures – things, properties, relations, features, ways things might be – not about language. Its truth does not rest on our having words for the natures in question, though of course we’d be hard put to discuss the issue without words. And this doctrine is consistent with a sentence that reports the fact not being a priori. Suppose that God’s favourite feature is being two meters tall, then ‘God’s favourite feature a priori necessitates being at least one metre tall’ is true despite the fact that the sentence is neither a priori nor necessary. What is it for a property to a priori necessitate a property? This is not the place for an essay on a priori necessity. For our needs we can work with the following rough, relatively non-controversial characterisation: P1 a priori necessitates P2 iff one’s grasp of what it is to be a P1 and what it is to be a P2
3

4

Some see serious problems for this and similar accounts of physicalism, see Tim Crane and D. H. Mellor (1990,185–206). But an account along these general lines is close enough to common ground between a priori and a posteriori physicalists for our needs. What about Platonic universals and numbers, if such there be? I take it these are not part of our world’s nature as they are not part of any world but, be this as it may, we are here concerned with the relation between the physical nature of our world and its various contingent features including especially our world’s psychological nature.

Frank Jackson

253

allows one to see that if P1 is instantiated so is P2. Thus, someone who thinks that something might be two metres tall without being at least one metre tall lacks a proper grasp of what those two properties are. I know some want to say that being a priori is a property of words and sentences, and find the suggestion that there are a priori truths about natures puzzling. But how could one think that the sentence ‘Any plane closed figure whose ratio of area to perimeter takes the maximum value is a circle’ is a priori unless one saw that the properties in question were a priori connected? Or take the necessity of origin doctrine especially associated with Saul Kripke (1980, 110f.)5. This is not an a priori claim about words but one about an inconsistency between the property of having a different origin and being the very same thing. Indeed, words and sentences, as such, are simply physical structure types and tokens. They, and things made from them, get to be a priori, true, or necessary, inasmuch as they have interpretations and to interpret them is to have them stand for properties, entities and relations. Anyone who thinks that being two metres tall a priori necessitates being at least one metre tall is likely to think that certain sentences are a priori true, including the sentence ‘If something is two metres tall, it is at least one metre tall’. (Why this is so is not trivial and will be important later.) In the same way, someone who thinks that the physical a priori necessitates the mental is very likely to think that certain sentences made up of expressions for the physical a priori necessitate certain sentences made up of expressions for the mental. This brings us to the second doctrine avowed by a priori physicalists: the doctrine that psychological sentences like ‘I am in pain’, and ‘Fred is seeing red’ – and if it comes to that, economic sentences like ‘Inflation is in decline’ – when true in our world, are a priori entailed by some suitable conjunction of physical sentences.6 In sum, a priori physicalism, in addition to being committed to the necessitation of the mental by the physical nature of our world, something it shares with a posteriori physicalism by virtue of being reductive in the sense of a ‘no extra properties’ doctrine, avows two a priori necessitation doctrines: one concerns the a priori necessitation of the mental or psychological nature (and the economic nature etc.) of our world by its physical nature, the other
5

6

It is of course a posteriori that an object has the origin it has; the contention that many claim to be a priori is that an object could not have had a different origin from the origin it in fact has. I here fudge some issues arising from the egocentric nature of, e. g., ‘I am in pain’. As far as our discussion here goes, we could restrict ourselves to whether ‘There is pain’, e. g., is a priori entailed by some suitable conjunction of physical sentences. Also, for reasons we won’t go into, the conjunction of physical sentences will often need to include a sentence to the effect ‘That’s all folks’. But see Jackson (2003a, 8497) for an extended discussion of the matter in the context of a discussion of objections raised by Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker (1999).

254

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

concerns certain expressions of these a priori necessitations in language – English as it might be. I start with a short epistemic argument for a priori physicalism. This argument does not require that we attend to the difference between the two versions of a priori necessitation: the de re and the de dicto versions, as we will tag them. I then turn to arguing for the a priori necessitation thesis as it applies to properties, natures etc. – the de re thesis. I conclude by looking at the thesis as it applies to language – the de dicto thesis. Along the way we will need to say something (not a lot) about two-dimensional treatments of the necessary a posteriori, and about certain emergence theses concerning patterns.

2. A Short Epistemic Argument for A Priori Physicalism
It is widely agreed that ‘Any water is H2O’ is a posteriori. Despite being necessarily true, it required empirical considerations to show that it is true. One familiar way of putting matters is to say that although it is metaphysically necessary that any water is H2O, there are two epistemic or conceptual possibilities – that water is H2O, and that water is something else, XYZ maybe – and it took experiments on the potable clear liquid that fills rivers, falls from the sky and all that, to show that the epistemic possibility realised is the first and not the second.7 The experimental results enable us to choose between the two epistemic possibilities. It is because the experimental results favour water being H2O as against its being, say, XYZ, that we are entitled to our confidence that water is H2O. However, the situation with the physical and the psychological way our world is is different. A posteriori physicalists hold that there are two epistemic or conceptual possibilities – that our world is exactly as it is physically with the psychology it in fact has, and that our world is exactly as it is physically with no psychology at all – that is what it is to hold that the connection is a posteriori. (Of course, the a posteriori physicalist might allow that some psychology follows a priori from the physical; they might, perhaps, insist that it is only mental states that display a certain sort of consciousness that resist a priori deduction from the physical. But I will work with the unqualified version; the argument to follow can easily be adjusted to apply against a qualified version.) But physicalists cannot allow that there is evidence that favours the first epistemic possibility over the second, eliminativist (alleged) epistemic possibility. Physicalists, be they of the a priori or a posteriori inclination, must allow that if there are two epistemic possibilities, we could
7

I agree though with the common but not universal opinion that it would be wrong to see this way of looking at the matter as warranting taking the set of conceptual or epistemic possibilities to have the set of metaphysical possibilities as proper subset; see Frank Jackson (1992; 1998, 68f.)

Frank Jackson

255

not tell the difference between them. We physicalists like to point out to epiphenomenalists that their doctrine commits them to holding that we could not tell the difference between the world as epiphenomenalists take it to be and the world minus epiphenomenal mental states. This is because mental states as they conceive of them leave no causal traces. But the a posteriori physicalist has to allow something very similar. There can be no difference in causal roles in the epistemically possible world (as they see matters) that is physically exactly like ours but lacks any psychology, and the epistemically possible world that is physically exactly like ours and has our psychology. They will be exactly alike in traces, putative memories, readings on metres, diary entries, and so on and so forth. Physicalists conclude, correctly, that epiphenomenalists cannot justify their belief that there are mental states. It seems to me that a posteriori physicalists are in the same boat. A priori physicalists deny that there are two epistemic possibilities: the world physically exactly like ours minus psychology, and the world exactly like ours with psychology, but the doctrine distinctive of a posteriori physicalism is precisely that there are two epistemic possibilities and I cannot see how a posteriori physicalists can consistently give reason to hold that it is the second epistemic possibility and not the first which is realised.

3. The De Re Thesis
We emphasised that physicalism is a reductive thesis in the sense that it is not a dual attribute theory of mind. It is a ‘no extra properties’ doctrine as much as a ‘no extra substances’ doctrine. This requires physicalists to have a rule for extending the class of physical properties as identified earlier, otherwise physicalism will be uninterestingly false. We said that physical properties are those that have a place in physical theory (in the sense of some recognisable descendent of current physical theory). Now it is either the case that an odd number of molecules went out of existence in 1999 or that an even number did. Suppose that it was an odd number. Then it is a feature of our world that an odd number of molecules went out of existence in 1999. Does this feature figure in physical theory? No. It is not sufficiently interesting to do so. Does this mean that physicalism, thought of as an account of what our world is like, is false because there is at least one non-physical property that applies to our world? To say yes to this question would be to make physicalism false in an uninteresting way. To avoid making the debate over physicalism uninteresting, we need a rule for extending the class of physical properties in a way that counts having an odd number of molecules going out of existence and similar properties as physical. The same point could be made in terms of interesting properties that, despite their interest, do not have a place in physical theory. An example is a decline in inflation. This property does not appear in physical theory and not

256

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

because it has a name drawn from economics. The name is not the problem. The problem is that what unites the cases where inflation is declining, the pattern in nature, the category, fails to match up with any property in physical theory. Economic categories in general effect quite different classifications from those effected by physical categories. Should we then embrace a dual attribute theory of economics and conclude that physicalism is false? Or take the shapes of buildings. Many of these shapes do not appear in physical theory. They are peculiar to their buildings and have no physical, as opposed to aesthetic or domestic significance, that requires their inclusion in physical theory. Do these shapes refute physicalism? If it were right to say yes, we could stop the symposium at this point and conclude that physicalism is false. Two ways of extending the class of physical properties to avoid making physicalism uninterestingly false naturally come to mind. First, we might include as physical in the wider sense all properties that are necessitated by physical properties in the more restricted sense. There are questions about how to state this with due precision but what is crucial for us are two problems of principle with the suggestion. First, some dual attribute theories postulate a necessary a posteriori connection between our physical natures and quite distinct mental properties (and dual attribute theorists in economics might do likewise). The idea under discussion would make such theories kinds of physicalism by definition. The distinct properties would count as physical precisely because they are necessitated. Indeed, a theist who held that being God is necessitated by the physical nature of our world – perhaps because God exists necessarily and so is necessitated by everything – would count as a physicalist. This can’t be right. The second problem is that it trivialises the topic of this symposium. If that which is necessitated by the physical counts as physical, then any physicalist must hold that the psychological is a priori necessitated by the physical. We noted that all physicalists must hold that the psychological is necessitated by the physical. But then, by the idea under discussion, the psychological would count as physical, and, as any property a priori necessitates itself, this means that the psychological nature of our world is a priori necessitated by the physical nature of our world. A priori physicalism would be true because of the very way we specified which properties count as physical on the enlarged conception of physical. The second way we might extend the class of physical properties is to include as physical all properties a priori necessitated by physical properties in the more restricted sense. I think this is in fact what physicalists usually have in mind: to be physical is to appear in the accounts given by the physical sciences or to a priori supervene on same. For example, I think many would count the property of having an odd number of molecules going out of existence in 1999 as physical precisely because it a priori supervenes on the physical by the more restricted criterion (if it is in fact true that the number is odd). The same goes for shapes of buildings. But

Frank Jackson

257

how then do physicalists state their view in a way which avoids making it a kind of dual attribute theory of mind? They have to say that psychological properties are physical properties in the sense just explained; similarly for economic properties and so on. But then, by the sense just explained, they are a priori necessitated by the physical, and it follows that a priori physicalism understood de re is true. It might be thought that a posteriori physicalists can avoid the troubles just bruited by making a three-fold distinction: physical1 properties are those that figure as such in physical theory; physical2 properties are those that a priori supervene on physical1 properties; physical3 properties are those that supervene in the necessitation sense on physical2 properties but do not a priori supervene on them. The distinctive claim of a posteriori physicalism is then that psychological properties (or some psychological properties) are physical3 properties. There are two problems with this formulation. The first is that it makes a posteriori necessitation versions of theism and dual attribute theories of mind into kinds of physicalism. Being God and being pain will be physical3, as just defined, according to these theories. Of course, some will doubt the coherence these ‘distinct but necessitated’ views (Frank Jackson 1998, 23; David J. Chalmers 1999, 484). But this is not something a posteriori physicalists can do; for if physical3 properties are identical with physical2 properties, they a priori supervene on physical1 properties. A posteriori physicalists have to say that physical3 properties are distinct from physical2 properties while being necessitated by them. That is the essence of their doctrine on the suggestion under discussion. The second problem arises from the just noted fact that a posteriori physicalists must hold that psychological properties are quite distinct from physical2 properties. This is a hard thing to do from a perspective broadly sympathetic to physicalism’s ontological austerity. Let me introduce the point via the question of whether or not being an equiangular triangle is a different property from being an equilateral one. Understood as a question about properties de re – as opposed to one about property concepts – anyone with a taste for desert landscapes should say that ‘they’ are one and the same property. For to be an equiangular triangle is to have a certain shape. The same goes for being an equilateral triangle. And triangles that are equilateral and equiangular do not have two shapes; they have one and the same shape. Now physicalism holds, as we said at the beginning, that our world is a huge aggregation of the entities of the physical sciences having just the properties and standing in just the relations given in those sciences, and that’s all there is. Now consider all the creatures in pain in our world. They are alike in being in pain; they share pain. Is what they have in common something that outruns any and everything that is given in that huge aggregation? It is hard to see how a physicalist who eschews double-counting could say that they do. But that huge aggregation is essentially a massive exercise in conjunction of the

258

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

physical1, and any and everything you get by massive conjunction of the physical1 a priori supervenes on the physical1.

4. Water and H2O
It is now time to connect the discussion of the de re thesis with the example of water and H2O, one of the prime sources of the view that a posteriori physicalism is the physicalism of choice. It might be argued that what we learn from the example is that the very same feature, namely, being water and being H2O, can stand in the relation of a posteriori necessitation, and that’s the right model for understanding the relation between physical and mental features. I think this is the wrong moral to draw from the example. One can take a reductive or a non-reductive position on the property of being water. Consider a sample of water. What properties does it have? Lots obviously, but a list of the pertinent ones would run something like this: being H2O, flowing in rivers, being potable, being called ‘water’ by us, being of a kind with rain, being the dominant watery kind, and so on. To be non-reductive about the property of being water is to insist that that property is an additional feature of a sample of water over and above the properties included on the list or on any reasonable extension of the list. The non-reductive position seems to me unduly extravagant in the properties it discerns – surely some double-counting is going on – but what matters here is that the example of water and H2O would not in that case be an example of one property standing in the relation of a posteriori necessitation to itself. It would be an example of two distinct properties standing in that relation and would be an example to motivate necessitation versions of dual attribute dualism rather than physicalism. On the alternative, reductive position, being water is identical with one or another of the properties listed, most plausibly either with being H2O or with being the dominant watery kind (but the point to follow goes through an any plausible delineation of the possibilities). On the first, the water–H2O example is not an example of a necessary a posteriori connection: being H2O is a priori connected to itself; on the second, the connection is contingent, not necessary. So in neither case does it help the cause of a posteriori physicalism.

5. The Significance of the Falsity of De Re A Posteriori Physicalism
If what we have said so far is right, a posteriori physicalism is not an appealing doctrine read de re. It is, it follows, best understood in the de dicto way, as a thesis about language – or maybe as one about concepts or propositions, on some conceptions of those contested notions, but I think the key points can

Frank Jackson

259

be framed in terms of language. I am sure that many a posteriori physicalists understand their view in the de dicto way.8 But if our interest is in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind rather than the philosophy of language, it is the truth or falsity of the de re version that is of most interest. Moreover, it is worth noting that if we abandon a posteriori physicalism read de re, a posteriori physicalism is not the answer to physicalists’ prayers that it is often portrayed as. I’ll make the point in terms of the famous zombie argument for dualism but it will clear that the point applies more widely. Many physicalists, myself included, admit the force of zombie intuitions. A world exactly like ours in all physical respects, which differs from ours in lacking consciousness, seems offhand to be possible. In this world, our physical counterparts are one and all zombies. But if our world duplicates the zombie world in all physical ways while having something extra, that extra, namely, consciousness, must be an addition to the physical make-up of our world, and it follows that physicalism is false at our world. We seem to have a simple argument for dualism.9 Many physicalists see a posteriori physicalism as the best way of defusing this argument for dualism. A posteriori physicalism allows us to reply by urging that consciousness is necessitated by the physical nature of our world, which means that the zombie world is impossible, but because consciousness is not a priori necessitated by the physical nature of our world, the impossibility of the zombie world is opaque to intuition. The trouble for this reply is that the zombie intuition is an intuition about consciousness itself. We use words to describe the zombie world but when we are invited to admit the possibility of the zombie world, we direct our thoughts to consciousness, the phenomenon we are acquainted with, not the words. This is how monolingual English speakers and monolingual Japanese speakers get to be focussing on the very same phenomenon when they think about the zombie argument against physicalism. But if our critique of a posteriori physicalism as a de re thesis is correct, consciousness, the phenomenon, does follow a priori from the physical nature of our world, or it does if physicalism is true. The upshot is that we physicalists have to bite the bullet and hold that the zombie world is a priori, or, if you like, conceptually, impossible, despite appearances to the contrary. In replying to zombie arguments, we need to fall back on the old idea that there are unobvious a priori or conceptual impossibilities. The hope of a new tool to counter the challenge of the zombie argument, and its many partner arguments from intuitions of possibility, for dualism, has not been realised.
8 9

And I have framed the issue as a de dicto one on a number of occasions, see, e. g., Jackson (1994; 1998). It is one of the most widely deployed arguments for dualism. See, e. g., Keith Campbell (1970, 100f.) (he calls zombies ‘imitation men’) and David J. Chalmers (1996, 123f.)

260

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

6. A Posteriori Physicalism as a De Dicto Thesis
I said earlier that the connection between the thesis that being two metres tall a priori necessitates being at least one metre tall, and the thesis that the sentence in English ‘If x is two metres tall then x is at least one metre tall’ is a priori is not trivial. The reason is that the connection depends on the fact that understanding the sentence involves inter alia knowing the properties that the predicates ‘two metres tall’ and ‘at least one metre tall’ stand for. This is how understanding the sentence in itself enables us to see that it is true, via our grasp of the fact that the properties the predicates stand for are such that one a priori necessitates the other. Theses about the a priori status of sentences and about the a priori status of connections between properties go together, in part because of the connections between understanding sentences and parts of sentences, and knowing what they stand for – or, more generally, how they represent things to be or the contribution they make to how things are represented to be. I know that some see things the other way around. They think of the a priori status of sentences as prior, and our grasp of the fact that the properties picked out by the predicates in the sentences have a priori connections is viewed as a reflection of this fact. But, as we note in effect above, words and sentences per se are simply configurations – on paper, on screens, in sound waves. They get to be true and to stand in a priori relations and all the rest, only inasmuch as we users link them and their parts to properties and things. It is what sentences and their parts stand for or represent concerning how things are that is prior, and our abilities to say when the sentences are true, are necessary, are a priori, and so on depend inter alia on this fact. We can now give the argument that takes us from the de re thesis to the de dicto thesis, from the thesis about properties to the thesis about words for properties. We have seen that consciousness, pain, thought and so on and so forth – the various psychological features as they are to be found in our world – are (if physicalism is true as we are supposing) a priori necessitated by the physical for the simple reason that they are physical features (in the relevant sense of physical). Now it had better be the case that a good part of our psychological vocabulary is such that we understand it in the sense that we know which features we are ascribing when we use it, or would ascribe were we to use it. If we do not know what the word ‘pain’ stands for, we do not know what feature we are ascribing to someone when we say that they are in pain. More generally, if we do not know what features the descriptive terms of the language of psychology stand for, we do not know what we are saying about how things are when we use those terms, we do not know which possibilities we are being asked to contemplate when we ask in words whether or not the famous zombie case is possible, or about inverted spectrum and swampman cases, and we do not know what we are saying and inviting agreement on, when we urge in print that there are decisive reasons

Frank Jackson

261

for holding that the psychological properties are one and all physical properties. Likewise, we had better know the properties the terms of physical theory stand for. Now consider all sentences of the form ‘If x is F, then x is Y’, where ‘F’ and ‘Y’ are, respectively, terms from physical language and psychological language, such that we know which properties they stand for and the properties they stand for are related by a priori necessitation. All such sentences will be knowable a priori. Let’s now look at some objections that might be made to this argument. First, it might be objected that it only works for terms which are such that, through understanding them, we know which properties they ascribe. I reply that such terms had better be widespread and include a good deal of our normal physical and psychological vocabulary, otherwise the language we use to discuss all these issues could not do its job. When we discuss, for example, the mind-body problem using language – the usual way of discussing it – we are not discussing words but rather what the words stand for and what various constructions using those words stand for. However, there is an important proviso, or if you like concession, to be made at this point. It may well be that our mental language embodies a degree of error consequent on the fact that the folk conception of sensory states attributes to them intrinsic qualia-type properties, or perhaps a strong kind of privacy property that physicalism tells us is nowhere instantiated.(See, e.g., David Lewis 1995; Frank Jackson 2003b). If this is the case, the properties the folk ascribe are nowhere instantiated and, if we go by the strictest standards, the only viable form of physicalism is then the eliminative version.10 Nevertheless, unless we are prepared to embrace the idea that when we talk, think and write about the mind, we folk are talking, thinking and writing about nothing, there needs to be an understanding of our psychological language that is close to the folk one and that ascribes properties, physical ones as we physicalists hold, that we grasp and that are, on the relevant occasions, actually possessed. It is psychological predicates and sentences – or a good number thereof – so understood that I hold follow a priori from a suitable conjunction of physical ones. In my view there had better be some kind of tidying up of our ordinary psychological language that is close enough to count as a tidying up and not an elimination, which is such that understanding the language amounts to grasping the psychological properties ascribed by that language and which allows us to see how the properties picked out by that language follow a priori from the physical. Second, it might be objected that we do not need to know what psychological terms stand for in order to use them fruitfully. It might be held that we do not know what ‘pain’, say, stands for, but we know enough to make sense of its role in debate over the mind and enough to feel sorry for one who we
10

As, e. g., Richard Rorty (1965) said for these kinds of reasons in the early days of the debate over materialism.

262

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

are told in words is in pain. There is a deal of opacity connected with the term but it is much less than that associated with words in languages we do not understand. This might be part of a view that holds out the promise of one day knowing precisely what the property is. We need, however, to know something about the property ‘pain’ stands for. We do not do much by way of anchoring debate on the mind and accounting for the communicative value of psychological language if we know merely that psychological terms stand for some property or other. But suppose we know that ‘pain’ stands for the property, whatever it is, that is K. Our degree of ignorance is over which property it is that is K. If this is correct, under what circumstances will we use the word ‘pain’ to describe something? Obviously, when we think it has the property of having the property which is K. But this means that what we are saying about something when we say it is in pain is that it has the property of having the property which is K. But then ‘pain’ stands for the property of having the property which is K, and we do, after all, know what it stands for. Perhaps one day ‘pain’ will stand for the property that is K, whatever that property is, but that is another question. The key point is that to apply a word to x just when it has some property or other that meets condition K in ignorance of what that property might be is not to use the word to ascribe an unknown property; it is to use it to ascribe the property of having whatever it is that meets condition K. It might be thought that we have here enough to undermine the argument from the de re thesis to the de dicto one. Suppose pain is a physical property P that we pick out via a non-physical property – maybe a mode of presentation N. It might well be argued that understanding ‘pain’ does not go along with knowing that x is in pain iff x has P. To understand ‘pain’ is simply to know that x is in pain iff x has the property (P as it turns out, but this need not be known for understanding) that has N. But, of course, the suggestion that we pick out pain via a non-physical property is not one a physicalist can entertain. The argument (1) Pain = the property that has N (2) The property that has N = P Therefore, pain = P might be part of an argument for an identity theory of pain but cannot be part of the case for physicalism if N is non-physical. It could only be part of the case for an identity version of a dual attribute theory. Third, it might be objected that the terms ‘water’ and ‘H2O’ stand for the same property and, though it is a priori that any property is self-identical, it would be wrong to infer that ‘Any water is H2O’ is a priori. It is famously a posteriori. This objection misunderstands the sense we are giving to a predicate standing for a property. What makes it true in English that the word ‘round’

Frank Jackson

263

stands for the shape that ‘O’ exemplifies is that one who understands English knows that ‘round’ is a word to use to convey the information that something has that shape. Now the word ‘water’ is not a word we learn to use to convey the information that something is H2O. If it were, ‘Any water is H2O’ would be a priori; what makes ‘Any water is H2O’ a posteriori is precisely that we do not use the word ‘water’ for H2O. Rather, we learn to use the word ‘water’ for the kind that is watery: the potable, normally clear kind that falls from the sky, fills the oceans, was baptised with the word ‘water’ by English speakers, and all that, and that roughly is the information about how things are that we use the word ‘water’ to pass around. How is it in that case that the word ‘water’ refers to H2O at all possible worlds? This is a controversial issue but the answer I favour draws on some ideas that come to us from two-dimensional modal logic. There are two ways to think of the reference of a word at different possible worlds: on one we track the reference of the word at w for every w; on the other, we track the reference of the word at w under the supposition that w is actual for every w. Often it makes no difference; an example is the word ‘round’ we discussed earlier. Often it does make a difference; an example is the word ‘water’. When it does make a difference, the reference that captures what a word stands for in our sense is the reference at w under the supposition that w is actual. Fourth, it might be objected that the thesis of autonomous, emergent patterns shows how psychological properties can follow a priori from the physical without it being true that the words we use for those properties allow an a priori deduction of the relevant sentences. It is sometimes suggested that psychological properties can be thought of as infinite disjunctions of physical properties that lack a pattern at the physical level; the pattern emerges only higher up, say at the personal level.11 But, continues the objection, language picks out properties by latching onto patterns. So we would have claims frameable in the language of psychology that could not be deduced a priori from any amount of information framed in physical terms because, although there is no mysterious extra non-physical property in play, the pattern the psychological term latches onto does not exist at the physical level. This is hard to believe. It is very hard to write programs that turn handwriting and speech into print because the relevant similarities – the ones that unite various instances of a handwritten or spoken ‘g’, say – are so complex, but we do not take seriously the possibility that the task is impossible in principle. There must be a pattern, otherwise we finite physical structures could not read handwriting and understand speech. Likewise, we finite physical structures are able to ‘read’ people’s psychology. It is hard to see how this is possible unless there are patterns at the physical level. (See David Lewis (1994, especially 415))
11

I am indebted here to Martin Davies but he should not be held responsible for my formulation of the point and nor for my reply to it.

264

The Case For A Priori Physicalism

The argument is sometimes made using Hilary Putnam’s ‘round hole, square peg’ example (Putnam 1973). When a square peg fails on a number of occasions to go through a round hole whose diameter equals the side of the peg, there will, on each occasion, be an explanation in terms of the positions of the constituent atoms, and more generally the micro-structural features, of the peg and the hole, but what unites the phenomena is, it is sometimes argued, invisible, indeed non-existent, at the micro-level. (I am not saying that Putnam says this but that some draw this moral.) However, there is a pattern at the micro-level in Putnam’s example. What unites the phenomena at the micro-level is how far apart various atoms are from one another and the rigidity of the lattices they compose.12 Moreover, the example is no support for the core idea behind a posteriori physicalism, namely, that how things are at the higher level might be necessitated without following a priori from how things are at a lower level: forming square and forming round arrays do follow a priori from suitable information about the atoms, their locations and their bonds. The emergent patterns in Putnam’s example follow a priori from that on which they supervene.

7. The hard issue that remains
I have defended a priori physicalism as a de re thesis, and used de re physicalism to defend a limited version of a priori physicalism as a de dicto thesis: to the extent, and it had better be a considerable one, that we know the instantiated properties that our mental terms ascribe, sentences made from those terms – the transparent terms we might call them – will follow a priori from the physical. Suppose ‘pain’ is such a term: it stands for or ascribes a physical property and we know which property it stands for. In this case we should be able to make this fact explicit. We should be able to write down an expression for the property the word ‘pain’ stands for that allows us to see exactly which physical properties a priori entail that someone is in pain. Analytical functionalists tell us that they can do this – they claim indeed to have done it in rough outline – so that we can stop searching. Maybe they have, maybe they haven’t. It is hard to say. And if they are wrong, it is to see what else to say. This seems to me to be the hard issue that faces physicalists today.

12

More precisely, the relevant subvenient pattern in the peg-hole case is: for every line through the peg, the set of cross-sections orthogonal to that line contains at least one with rigid points that are further apart than the diameter of the hole.

Frank Jackson

265

Bibliography
Block, Ned, and Robert Stalnaker (1999). Conceptual Analysis, Dualism and the Explanatory Gap. Philosophical Review 108:1-46. Campbell, Keith (1970). Body and Mind. London: Macmillan. Chalmers, David J. (1996). The Conscious Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. Chalmers, David J. (1999). Materialism and the Metaphysics of Modality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-496. Crane, Tim, and David H. Mellor (1990). There is no Question of Physicalism. Mind 99:185-206. Jackson, Frank (1980). A Note on Physicalism and Heat. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 56:26-34. Jackson, Frank (1992). Critical notice of Susan Hurley, Natural Reasons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70:457-487. Jackson, Frank (1994). Armchair Metaphysics. In: Michaelis Michael and John O’Leary Hawthorne, eds. Philosophy in Mind. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 23-42. Jackson, Frank (1998). From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jackson, Frank (2003a). From H2O to Water: the Relevance to A Priori Passage. In: Hallvard Lillehammer and Gonzalo Roderiguez-Pereyra (eds.) (2003). Real Metaphysics. Papers for D.H. Mellor. London: Routledge. 84-97. Jackson, Frank (2003b). Mind and Illusion. In: Anthony O’Hear (ed.) (2003). Minds and Persons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 251-271. Krikpe, Saul A. (1980). Naming and Necessity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Lewis, David (1994). Reduction of Mind. In: Samuel Guttenplan (ed.). A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 412-431. Lewis, David (1995). Should a Materialist believe in Qualia? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73:140-144. Putnam, Hilary (1973). Reductionism and the Nature of Psychology. Cognition 2:131146. Rorty, Richard (1965). Mind-Body Identity, Privacy and Categories. Review of Metaphysics 19:24-54.

266
vakat

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism1
Brian P. McLaughlin
The dispute between a priori and a posteriori physicalists is over whether certain truths are knowable a priori. Physicalism is not one of those truths. Both a priori and a posteriori physicalists maintain that physicalism is only a posteriori knowable.2 The dispute is over whether physicalism requires that certain other truths be knowable a priori; truths of which, more in due course. While there is a consensus that the doctrine of physicalism is a posteriori, there is no consensus about how, exactly, the doctrine should be formulated. The following global supervenience thesis, however, is common ground between a priori and a posteriori physicalists: (S) Any minimal physical duplicate of the actual world is a duplicate simpliciter of the actual world.3
1

2

3

I have defended elements of a posteriori physicalism in several papers: McLaughlin 1992; Hill and McLaughlin 1999; McLaughlin 2001a; 2001b; 2003a; and 2003b. (A posteriori physicalism is also defended in, for example, Loar 1990/97; Hill 1991; Papineau 1993; and Papineau 2002. A priori physicalism is essentially related to what Chalmers (1996) calls “Type A physicalism,” and a posteriori physicalism is essentially related to what he calls “Type B physicalism.”) Thanks are due to discussions with John Hawthorne, Chris Hill, Brian Loar, and Barry Loewer over the years about a posteriori physicalism. Thanks are also due to Christian Nimtz for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This paper was written for a symposium with Frank Jackson and is indebted to the discussion on that occasion. As will be apparent, I have learned a great deal from studying Jackson’s work on physicalism. But, for reasons that will also become apparent, I cannot follow him into a priori physicalism. The labels ‘a priori physicalism’ and ‘a posteriori physicalism’, which were, I believe, introduced by Frank Jackson, are thus somewhat misleading. But they have caught on, and so I employ them here. This supervenience thesis appears in Frank Jackson 1998. (Rather than ‘the actual world’, the thesis there uses ‘our world’, but, of course, the actual world = our world.) While (S) is required for physicalism, it won’t do as a formulation of physicalism since fails to suffice for physicalism. Thesis (S) is, for instance, compatible with the existence of a necessarily existing God, but physicalism is not. (For an attempt to respond to that point, see Jackson 1998.) For yet another reason why the truth of the supervenience thesis is insufficient for the truth of physicalism,

268

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

A physical duplicate of the actual world is any possible world that is exactly like the actual world in every physical respect—in respect of the world-wide pattern of distribution of physical properties, physical relations, kinds of physical objects, and in its physical generalizations, its physical laws, etc. A world could be a physical duplicate of the actual world without being a duplicate simpliciter of it, for the physical duplicate and the actual world may differ in is some non-physical respect—for instance, in respect of the worldwide pattern of distribution of kinds of non-physical objects or non-physical properties. Perhaps the actual world contains ghosts—disembodied spirits— with mental properties that exert no causal influence on the physical causal order (and so are epiphenomena4), or that exert only redundant causal influences on the physical causal order so that there is a kind of autonomousof-the-physical over-determination of some physical phenomena by the mental (as when the presence of a ghost directly causally over-determines a dry chill in the hallway). Or perhaps the actual world contains no ghosts, but that a physical duplicate world does. In either case, there would be a physical duplicate of the actual world that fails to be a duplicate simpliciter of it. A minimal physical duplicate of the actual world is a physical duplicate that contains nothing other than whatever is necessary for it to be a physical duplicate of the actual world.5
see John Hawthorne 2002. I shall not attempt here to provide an adequate formulation of physicalism. Adjudicating the dispute between a priori and a posteriori physicalists does not require doing so. We can work with (S), rather than with a formulation of physicalism itself. See McLaughlin 1994. Some points of clarification are in order so as to avert misunderstanding. First, the relevant mode of necessity here is metaphysical necessity. Second, even though there are metaphysical truths that are not logical (or analytic) truths, the space of metaphysical possibility is the space of logical possibility: the logically possible worlds = the metaphysically possible worlds. (See, e.g., McLaughlin 1995; and Jackson 1998.) Third, it is arguable that a world that is a duplicate simpliciter of the actual world could nevertheless fail to contain things contained in the actual world. Thus, (S) does not entail that all there is is whatever there must be for the actual world to be a physical duplicate of itself (contra, McLaughlin 2001a). If individuals such as Frank Jackson and myself have haecceities, then a duplicate simpliciter of the actual world could fail to contain either Frank Jackson or me. But such a world would, of course, contain a duplicate of Frank Jackson and a duplicate of me. Finally, the relevant notion of physicality is tied to physics. Our current physics is not the correct physics of the world since, for example, there is an incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity. A priori and a posteriori physicalists typically assume, though, that the physics that is in fact true of our world will be a successor theory to current physics. Kinds of objects, properties, and relations will be physical in the sense at issue if and only if they are postulated by that successor physics. (For further discussion of this idea, see McLaughlin 2001a.)

4 5

Brian P. McLaughlin

269

Thesis (S) is equivalent to the claim that the actual world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. While it is a priori that the actual world is a physical duplicate of itself, it is only a posteriori that it is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. Physicalism entails (S). Thus, physicalism is a posteriori.6 On the standard reading of ‘the actual world’, the description is a rigid designator. Thus, on fairly standard modal assumptions, (S) is noncontingent: if it is true, then it is necessarily true—true in every possible world. It is thus common ground between a priori and a posteriori physicalists that there are necessary, a posteriori truths. Thesis (S) itself is an example.7 And there are more familiar examples. For instance, typical members of both camps take the claim that water = H20 to be only a posteriori knowable, despite being necessary. It is a priori8 that if (S), then: (I) All truths are entailed by (1) the physical account of the actual world in each and every detail, (2) the claim that that account is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail, and (3) the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. Thus, (I) is common ground among a priori and a posteriori physicalists. Condition (2) is redundant if the complete physical account of the actual world in each and every detail would entail that it is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail. But, be that as it may, (3) is not redundant. First of all, it is contingent. ‘The world’ is not a rigid designator; and while there are no worlds that fail to be physical duplicates of themselves, there are worlds that fail to be minimal physical duplicates of themselves (viz., worlds that contain “extra” non-physical objects or properties). Second, the claims alluded to (1) and claim (2) will hold in any physical duplicate of the actual world, but some physical duplicates of the actual world are not duplicates simpliciter of the actual world. Both a priori and a posteriori physicalists hold that the truths alluded to in (1)-(3) entail all truths, in the truth-preservation sense of entailment. That is, they hold that any truth T will be such that given that the truths alluded to in (1)-(3) hold, T will hold. Commitment to (S) distinguishes a priori and a posteriori physicalists from Cartesian property-dualists.9 Such dualists deny (S) on the grounds that the
6 7

8 9

I assume that the a priori (i.e., the strongly a priori, see below) is closed under entailment. I assume that (S) is equivalent to the thesis that it is actually the case that any minimal physical duplicate of the world is a duplicate simpliciter of it; and I give the ‘actually’ operator the standard reading. Here I appeal to strong a priority; see below. Cartesian property-dualists need not be Cartesian substance-dualists. Cartesian

270

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

world contains properties (and/or property instantiations) that it need not contain in order to be a physical duplicate of itself, namely certain mental properties (and/or mental property instantiations). They thus hold that the actual world it is not a minimal physical duplicate of itself, and so that (S) is false. They, moreover, deny (I) since they maintain that there are mental truths that would fail to hold if (1)-(3) held. Consider a possible world that is a physical duplicate of the actual world and a minimal physical duplicate of itself. That world, they claim, would not be a duplicate simpliciter of the actual world. It would be “a zombie world,” that is, a world exactly like the actual world in every physical respect, but that is entirely devoid of phenomenal consciousness.10 In that world, it would be false that some human beings are in pain. Our world, however, is not a zombie world. In our world, it is true, for instance, that some human beings are in pain. Thus, they claim, (I) is false. They do not, of course, deny that there is some physical account of the world that is a complete physical account in each and every detail. But they deny that the complete physical account of the world is the complete account of the world, for they deny (3). The world, they claim, is not a minimal physical duplicate of itself. In contrast, both the a priori physicalist and the a posteriori physicalist hold that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself, and so that (I) is true. According to both a priori and a posteriori physicalists that maintain realism about phenomenal consciousness, there is no zombie world. For they hold that there is phenomenal consciousness and that any physical duplicate of the actual world is a duplicate simpliciter of it, and so contains phenomenal consciousness. Such a priori and a posteriori physicalsts can, however, join Cartesian property-dualists in claiming that we can know that our world is not a zombie world by virtue of the fact that when we are in a pain, we can know that we are in pain on the basis of our direct awareness that we are in pain. Moreover, a priori and a posteriori physicalists can claim an advantage here over Cartesian property-dualists. Such direct awareness-that requires direct awareness of one’s pain—i.e., it requires that one be aware of one’s pain but not by means of being aware of something else. Such direct awareness of pain requires a causal connection between the pain and our awareness of it. Cartesian property-dualist, however, seem committed either to pains being
property-dualism without Cartesian substance-dualism is sympathetically presented in, for example, Broad 1925 (”under the name “emergent materialism”) and, more recently, in Chalmers 1996. Broad defends the view by appeal to a knowledge-argument; Chalmers defends it by appeal to knowledge-arguments and a variety of other arguments. (For a discussion of Broad 1925, see McLaughlin 1992; for a discussion of Chalmers 1986, see Hill and McLaughlin 1999.) See, e.g., Chalmers 1996. Cartesian property-dualists maintain that while there is no nomologically possible zombie world (some fundamental laws are psychophysical laws), there is nevertheless a (metaphysically possible) zombie world.

10

Brian P. McLaughlin

271

epiphenomena, or to an utterly bizarre kind of autonomous (of the physical) overdetermination. There is thus a lot of common ground between a priori and a posteriori physicalists. The central dispute between them is over whether (I) requires that certain conditionals be knowable a priori, namely those conditionals linking the truths alluded to in (1)-(3) will certain other truths. Let Φ be the conjunction of all of the truths of the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail.11 Let Ψ be the claim that Φ is the conjunction of all of the truths of the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail. Let Φ be the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself.12 According to both a priori and a posteriori physicalists, for any truth T, the conditional ‘If Φ & Ψ & Ω, then T’ will be necessarily true: true in every possible world. But they differ over whether certain such necessary conditionals truths will be a priori true.13 ‘A priori’ and ‘a posteriori’ are, of course, terms of art in philosophy. While we speak of a priori/a posteriori truths, claims, propositions, beliefs, and knowledge, the a priori/a posteriori distinction is, in the first instance, an epistemic distinction. And the epistemic distinction is, in the first instance, between two kinds of epistemic warrant for belief. A priori warrant for a belief must be warrant otherwise than on the basis of empirical evidence. But there is another idea that is typically associated with the notion of a priori warrant, namely the idea of empirically indefeasible warrant: warrant that cannot be defeated by empirical evidence.14 There can be empirically defeasible warrant otherwise than on the basis of empirical evidence. And a useful distinction has been drawn between weak and strong a priority by appeal to that fact.15 The belief that p is weakly a priori if and only if it can be warranted otherwise than on the basis of empirical evidence; and the belief that p is strongly a priori if and only if it is weakly a priori in a way that is empirically indefeasible. Weak a priority is, I believe, context-dependent, and comes pretty cheap. In ordinary contexts, it is, I believe, weakly a priori that we are not brains in vats: in ordinary contexts, we are entitled simply to presuppose that we are not brains in vats. It may even be that nowadays, in ordinary contexts, it is
11 12

13

14 15

This is an infinite conjunction. Notice that ‘the world’ here is used non-rigidly. It is a contingent truth that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself (despite the fact that it is a necessary truth that the actual world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself). Any such conditional claim would be too complex, of course, for any human being to understand. But the issue is whether the conditional would be a priori in principle, abstracting away from our memory limitations and the like. By ‘empirical evidence’, I mean empirical evidential reasons for belief. See John Pollock 19974; 1986; and Hartry Field 1996, whose definitions of weak and strong a priority I closely follow. See also McLaughlin 2000; 2003c.

272

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

weakly a priori that water = H20. Most people who believe it are warranted in believing it otherwise than on the basis of empirical evidence. But, in any case, it is not strongly a priori that water = H20 since even the warrant our experts have for believing it could, in principle, be empirically defeated (however incredibly far-fetched that possibility may be). Ordinarily, it may well be weakly a priori that some human beings are in pain. This may be something we are ordinarily entitled to presuppose, even when we are not in pain, and even when we lack evidence that some human being is in pain. (Our evidence may be logically compatible with its being a human pain-free moment.) Even if that is so, however, it would not follow that the conditional ‘If Φ & Ψ & Ω, then some human beings are in pain’ is weakly a priori. For it may be that were the proposition that some human beings are in pain to be considered in the context of the relevant conditional, we would cease to be entitled to presuppose it, and so the proposition in question would cease to be weakly a priori. In any case, the kind of a priority at issue in the a priori/a posteriori physicalism dispute is strong a priority. A priori physicalists maintain that (1)(3) strongly a priori entail certain truths that a posteriori physicalists deny are strongly a priori entailed by (1)-(3). If a priori physicalists are right that physicalism requires that certain kinds of truths be strongly a priori, then those who deny that anything is strongly a priori cannot consistently maintain physicalism—i.e., cannot maintain any doctrine that deserves the name ‘physicalism’. While W.V.O. Quine (1953) did not distinguish weak and strong a priority, his skepticism concerning a priority seemed mainly focused on strong a priority: he held that any belief is empirically defeasible. And indeed whether there are any strongly a priori beliefs remains controversial. Some of the controversy surrounding strong a priority can be resolved by appeal to John Pollock’s distinction between two kinds of defeaters: rebutting defeaters and undercutting defeaters.16 A rebutting defeater of an empirical warrant for believing that p is empirical evidence that outweighs that warrant. An undercutting defeater is empirical evidence that one lacks the warrant in question for believing that p. If the kind of defeat at issue in the definition of strong a priority included defeat by an undercutting defeater, then it seems that there are virtually no strongly a priori beliefs; for warrant for virtually any belief can be undercut. (Thus, suppose that a person arrived at a mathematical belief by a short, sound mathematical proof. Evidence that a leading mathematician thinks the alleged proof is faulty and evidence that the person in question was cognitive impaired by the use of an hallucinogenic drug would be undercutting defeaters of the person’s warrant.17) The kind of defeat at issue, however, in the definition of strong a

16 17

Pollock 1986. On this point concerning Quine’s skepticism, see Field 1996. See McLaughlin 2000.

Brian P. McLaughlin

273

priori belief is intended to be defeat by a rebutting defeater, not defeat by an undercutting defeater.18 It nevertheless remains an interesting open philosophical issue whether there is strong a priority in the sense thus defined. A posteriori physicalists need not, however, and indeed typically nowadays do not deny that there is strong a priority. Skepticism about the strongly a priori is thus not the issue that separates a posteriori physicalists from a priori physicalists. And in what follows, I shall take it as common ground in the dispute that there are strongly a priori beliefs (/truths/propositions/claims). Moreover, hereafter, unless I explicitly indicate otherwise, by ‘a priori’ I shall mean strongly a priori. And by ‘an a posteriori belief ’, I shall mean a belief that admits of an epistemic warrant, but that does not admit of a strongly a priori warrant—a warrant otherwise than on the basis of empirical evidence that is empirically indefeasible (i.e., that cannot be defeated by a rebutting defeater). There seems to be no consensus among a priori physicalists as to what truths must be a priori deducible from (1)-(3). A very strong version of a priori physicalism would entail: (II) All truths are a priori entailed by (1) the physical account of the actual world in each and every detail, (2) the claim that that account is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail, and (3) the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. Thesis (II) differs from thesis (I) only in containing the words ‘a priori’ (by which is meant strong a priority). The dispute between a posteriori physicalists and proponents of (II) is thus over whether all truths are deducible a priori from (1)-(3), and so over whether for every truth T, the conditional truth ‘If Φ & Ψ & Ω, then T’ will be a priori. Thesis (II), however, is a stronger thesis than any a priori physicalist actually holds. One reason is that (II) seems clearly false because of indexical truths. (1)-(3) won’t a priori entail that I am Brian McLaughlin. Nor will (1)(3) a priori entail that Frank Jackson is presenting a paper here today. A priori physicalists will at the very least restrict thesis (II) to non-indexical truths. But even with that restriction, (II) is still awfully strong. Proponents of (II) are committed to the a priori falsehood of many claims that a posteriori physicalists need only hold are false. An example is the claim that a necessary God exists. Is it (strongly) a priori that there is no necessarily existing God? Perhaps. But in any case, there are other claims that proponents of (II) must hold have their truth value a priori, which a posteriori physicalist need not hold have their truth value a priori. Among such claims are the claim that there are Platonic universals, the claim that the continuum hypothesis is true, and the mereological claim that for every set of things, there is a unique fusion
18

Compare Field’s 1996 distinction between primary and secondary defeasibility.

274

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

of those things. On fairly uncontroversial assumptions, these claims are noncontingent: necessarily true if true, and necessarily false if false. Given that they are non-contingent, they pose no problem for a posteriori physicalists. These claims, moreover, may very well be weakly a priori true or false as well, and indeed weakly a priori in such a way that they or their negations will trivially follow weakly a priori from (1)-(3). But proponents of (II) are committed to their either being strongly a priori true or false, or else to their being such that either they or their negations are strongly a priori entailed by (1)-(3). Either claim is highly controversial. The truth of physicalism should not depend on the truth of either claim. It won’t do for the a priori physicalist to try to deal with the kinds of cases mentioned above by revising (II) as follows: (II’) All non-indexical truths are a priori entailed by (1) the physical account of the actual world in each and every detail, (2) the claim that it is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail, (3) the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself, and (4) all necessary truths. The reason is that a posteriori physicalists accept (II’). The truth of (II’) is common ground between a priori and a posteriori physicalists. By the a posteriori physicalist’s lights, (1)-(4) will a priori entail all the non-indexical truths. A posteriori physicalists, however, deny that (1)-(3) a priori entail all truths because they hold that there are some necessary truths that are neither a priori nor entailed a priori entailed by (1)-(3). Thesis (II) is very strong indeed, and not all a priori physicalists would accept it, even when it is restricted to non-indexical truths. All a priori physicalists, however, embrace the following claim: (A) All non-indexical mental truths are a priori entailed by (1) the physical account of the actual world in each and every detail, (2) the claim that it is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail, and (3) the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. All a posteriori physicalists reject (A), but nevertheless hold the following weaker claim entailed by (A): (B) All non-indexical mental truths are entailed by (1) the physical account of the actual world in each and every detail, (2) the claim that it is the complete physical account of the world in each and every detail, and (3) the claim that the world is a minimal physical duplicate of itself. Thesis (A) differs from (B) only in that (A) contains the additional word ‘a priori’ (by which is meant ‘strongly a priori’). It is thus common ground bet-

Brian P. McLaughlin

275

ween a priori and a posteriori physicalist that (1)-(3) entail all the non-indexical mental truths. The dispute is over whether (1)-(3) strongly a priori entail all non-indexical mental truths. A priori physicalist says “yes;” a posteriori physicalist says “no.” Thesis (A) seems stronger than thesis (B) since an entailment (in the truthpreservation sense) can fail to be a priori. For example, the fact that something is water entails that it is H2O; but this entailment is not a priori. A priori physicalists agree that an entailment can fail to be a priori. But some a priori physicalists seem to hold that (B) nevertheless a priori entails (A), and thus that (A) and (B) are a priori equivalent in truth value.19 If they are correct, then a posteriori physicalism is a priori false since it entails that (B) is true and (A) is false. A weaker claim an a priori physicalist might make instead is that any successful defense of (B) would have to invoke (A), and so that the a posteriori physicalist position—that (B) is true and (A) is false—is unjustifiable. If this weaker claim is correct, that would be formidable objection indeed to a posteriori physicalism. I lack the space here to try to adjudicate all of the relevant disputes concerning these matters. But I will briefly consider of some of the main ones in what remains, and try to get to the heart of why a posteriori physicalists reject a priori physicalism. It is in a sense open to an a posteriori physicalists to embrace either a kind of analytical behaviorism or a kind of analytical functionalism for certain kinds of mental states—perhaps for beliefs, desires, intentions, and the like— according to which these kinds of states can be defined in physical and topic-neutral terms.20 If certain kinds of mental states can be so defined, then non-indexical mental truths concerning only such mental states will follow a priori from (1)-(3). For, by hypothesis, the definitions will be a priori. The dispute between a posteriori and a priori physicalists is over whether (1)-(3) a priori entail all non-indexical mental truths, not over whether (1)-(3) a priori entail some non-indexical mental truths. A posteriori physicalists maintain that there are non-indexical truths about states of phenomenal consciousness (states that have a phenomenal character—a what-it-is-like-for-the-subject aspect) that do not follow a priori from (1)-(3). A posteriori physicalists thus reject both analytical behaviorism and analytical functionalism for states of phenomenal consciousness.21
18 19 20

21

Compare Field’s 1996 distinction between primary and secondary defeasibility. In his contribution to this volume, Frank Jackson appears to hold such a view. For the record, I am not recommending doing either. I consider both analytical behaviorism and analytical functionalism false even for beliefs, desires, and intentions. A physicalist might try to argue that no non-indexical truth about states of phenomenal consciousness are a priori deducible from (1)-(3) because that would require that certain kinds of indexical truths about states of phenomenal consciousness be a priori deducible from (1)-(3), and no indexical truth is a priori deducible from (1)-(3). Such a physicalist would be an a posteriori physicalist since

276

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

According to a posteriori physicalists, there is at least one non-indexical truth of phenomenal consciousness, C, such that the conditional ‘If Φ & Ψ & Ω, then C’ will be only a posteriori, despite being necessarily true. A priori physicalists deny that. This central dispute between a priori and a posteriori physicalists will be our focus. The discussion can be centered on a single paradigmatic example. A priori physicalists maintain that, given that some human beings are in pain, the truth that some human beings are in pain will follow a priori from (1)-(3). A posteriori physicalists deny that.22 A posteriori physicalists hold that truths about states of phenomenal consciousness follow from (1)-(3) because they hold the following thesis: Type Identity. For every type of state of phenomenal consciousness, C, there is some type of neuro-scientific state or psycho-functional state N such that C = N.23 And because they maintain that the relevant psychophysical identity claims will be necessarily true—true in every possible world—and thus trivially entailed by (1)-(3). The identity claims will be necessarily true in virtue of the semantic fact that the terms flanking the identity sign are rigid designators,
he or she would not be claiming that only indexical truths about states of phenomenal consciousness fail to be a priori deducible from (1)-(3). I will not argue for a posteriori physicalism here in that way, however. It is in a sense open to an a posteriori physicalist to maintain that it can be strongly a priori that there is pain, and thus that (1)-(3) can trivially strongly a priori entail that there is pain. (A Cartesian property-dualist could maintain that as well.) For it is open to an a posteriori physicalist to maintain that when one is directly aware that one is in pain, one’s warrant for believing that one is in pain is non-empirical, and that it is empirically indefeasible—indefeasible by a rebutting defeater. That one is in pain strongly a priori entails that there is pain. Thus, it is open to an a posteriori physicalist to maintain that it can be strongly a priori that there is pain. And since the claim that there is pain strongly a priori entails that the actual world is not a zombie world, it is open to an a posteriori physicalists to claim that we can know strongly a priori that the actual world is not a zombie world. But even if that is so, it would not be strongly a priori that some human being is in pain. For I cannot deduce strongly a priori from (1)-(3) that I am a human being. Whether we can, however, have strongly a priori knowledge that we are in pain, and so strongly a priori knowledge that the actual world is not a zombie world, is a question I shall not pursue here. (The possibility that we can have strongly a priori knowledge that we are in pain is briefly discussed in McLaughlin 2000.) I will assume that state types are properties. And I will sometimes use ‘state type’ and ‘property’ interchangeably. By a psycho-functional state type, I mean a secondorder state of being in a state with a role R, where R can, in principle, be specified in physical and/or topic neutral terms. Thus, the kind of psycho-functionalism in question is a kind of role-functionalism, rather than a kind of filler-functionalism. And it is a kind of a posteriori, scientific functionalism.

22

23

Brian P. McLaughlin

277

and the fact that it is a conceptual truth that (x)(y)(if x = y, then necessarily x = y). An a posteriori physicalist can be a type materialist or a psychofunctionalist.24 A posteriori physicalists maintain that the psychophysical identity claims in question will fail to be a priori, and that they will as well fail to be a priori entailed by (1)-(3). But they maintain that since such identity claims will be necessarily true, all (non-indexical) truths about states of consciousness will follow from (1)-(3). Thus, for example, suppose that it is a necessary, a posteriori truth that pain = N, where N is a type of neuro-scientific state or a type of psycho-functional state. Then, (1)-(3) will entail that some human beings are in N. Since it is a necessary truth that pain = N, (1)-(3) likewise entail that some human beings are in pain. But it is only a posteriori that pain = N, and it does not follow a priori from (1)-(3) that pain = N. A posteriori physicalists maintain that the psychophysical identity claims will be justified by inference to the best explanation of psychophysical correlations—correlations between types of states of phenomenal consciousness and types of neuro-scientific or psycho-functional states. They maintain that there are such correlations on empirical grounds. And they maintain that such identities will offer the best explanation of such correlations on supraempirical grounds of overall coherence and theoretical simplicity.25 It is open to an a priori physicalist to agree that there are such psychophysical identity claims, and that they are a posteriori. For from the fact that an identity claim is a posteriori, it does not follow that it fails to be a priori deducible from (1)-(3). A priori physicalists hold that it is only a posteriori that water is H20, despite being necessary. But they maintain that it follows a priori from (1)-(3) that water is H20. They can maintain that the same is true of the a posteriori psychophysical identity claims in question. In the strict sense of ‘physical theory’ at issue here, the term ‘water’ is not a term of any basic vocabulary of physical theory.26 A priori physicalists acknowledge that, and maintain as well that it is only a posteriori that water is H20. But they maintain that the fact that water is H2O is a priori deducible
24

25 26

For the record, I favor type materialism over psycho-functionalism as concerns states of phenomenal consciousness: that is, I favor the view that types of states of phenomenal consciousness are identical with types of neuro-scientific states. But I cannot go into the reasons here. For a discussion of closely related issues, see McLaughlin 2003a. See Hill 1991; Hill-McLaughlin 1999; and McLaughlin 2003a, 2003b. See also McLaughlin forthcoming. Physical theory, in the relevant sense, is a successor theory to our current physics and is the correct physics of our world. (See the final point of clarification in footnote 5.) A set of terms is a basic vocabulary for physical theory if and only if it is a vocabulary for physical theory, and no proper subset of it is. I assume here that ‘H2O’ is a term of physical theory, even if it turns out not to be part of the basic vocabulary of physical theory.

278

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

from (1)-(3) on the grounds that the concept of water has a contingent a priori reference-fixing condition that can be stated, in principle, in a vocabulary of physical theory.27 The description of the reference-fixing condition for the concept of water is standardly abbreviated by the description ‘the watery stuff’. The description so abbreviated is (to my knowledge) nowhere provided in full in the literature. And usually the partial description offered includes terms like ‘transparent’ and ‘tasteless’, which are, I believe, essentially linked to the vocabulary of phenomenal consciousness. But it is assumed (though never, to my knowledge, argued) that all of the terms that are essential to the a priori reference-fixing description for the concept of water are either (a) physical terms, (b) terms definable in principle in basic physical terms (and so physical terms by incorporation through definition) or (c) terms that have a priori reference-fixing physical descriptions. If that assumption is correct, then even though the concept of water is not a concept of physical theory, and even though it is a posteriori that water is H20, that water is H20 will be a priori deducible from (1)-(3). Let us say that a concept has a strong functional analysis if and only if it is definable in terms that meet condition (a), condition (b), or condition (c). And let us say that a concept has a weak functional analysis if and only if there is an a priori reference-fixing description for it (perhaps a contingent one) each term in which either meets condition (a), condition (b), or condition (c). A concept can have a weak functional analysis without having a strong one. Perhaps the concept of water is an example. A posteriori physicalists can allow that the concept of water has a weak functional analysis, and thus that water is H2O will be a priori deducible from (1)-(3). They deny, however, that phenomenal concepts—concepts of states of phenomenal consciousness—have weak functional analyses.28 Like the Cartesian property-dualist, they maintain that the only a priori referencefixing condition for a phenomenal concept is the very phenomenal state itself. Thus, for instance, the only a priori reference-fixing condition for the concept of pain is the feeling of pain itself.29
27 28

29

Strictly to avoid prolixity, I shall hereafter write as if topic-neutral terms (such as, e.g., ‘cause’) were part of the vocabulary of physical theory. In the literature on consciousness, the term ‘phenomenal concept’ is used in several different technical senses. While I think that some of those technical uses are important, I here just use the term (for want of a better one) for concepts of states of phenomenal consciousness. So, for example, I count the concept of (the feeling of) pain as a phenomenal concept since pain is a state of phenomenal consciousness (there is something it is like to be in pain). In the terminology of two-dimensional semantics, the concept of pain has the same A-intension and C-intension (to use Jackson’s (1998) terminology), the same primary and secondary intension (to use Chalmers’s (1996) terminology). The a posteriori physicalist thus holds that ‘A is B’ can be a posteriori, even when ‘A’ and ‘B’ express concepts with the same A-intension and C-intension (or the same

Brian P. McLaughlin

279

A priori physicalists seem to hold that (1)-(3) strongly a priori entail all (non-indexical) mental truths because they hold that all (non-indexical) mental concepts have either strong or weak functional analyses. A posteriori physicalists hold that phenomenal concepts lack either strong or weak functional analyses. But they need not deny that phenomenal concepts have defeasible physical criteria of application; nor need Cartesian property-dualists deny that. Thus, consider the casual/counterfactual role that folk psychology assigns to pain. Call the role ‘the folk pain-role’, or ‘the pain-role’ for short. Using the familiar method of Ramsification, the pain-role can be specified without the use of terms of phenomenal consciousness. The a posteriori physicalist and the Cartesian property-dualist can allow that the condition of occupying a state with the pain-role, so specified, would be a defeasible criterion for being in pain. If the concept of pain has such a criterion, then it will be weakly a priori that if an individual is in a state with the pain-role, then the individual is in pain. Knowledge that an individual is in pain if the individual is in a state with the pain-role would be based on semantic knowledge—one’s grasp of the concepts in question. But the knowledge would be empirically defeasible.30 If, through further use of Ramsification, the painrole could be specified using only terms that meet condition (a), or (b), or (c), then the concept of pain would have a defeasible physical criterion of application. Neither the a posteriori physicalist nor the Cartesian consciousproperty-dualist need deny that phenomenal concepts have such defeasible physical criteria of application. The reason is simply that such criteria are defeasible. That phenomenal concepts have such physical criteria thus does not entail that there are the kind of strongly a priori links between phenomenal concepts and physical concepts that are required either for weak or strong functional analyses. Since such physical criteria are empirically defeasible, they are compatible with (1)-(3) failing to strongly a priori entail contingent truths of phenomenal consciousness. And what the a posteriori physicalist claims is precisely that (1)-(3) fail to strongly a priori entail all, or any, contingent (non-indexical) truths of phenomenal conscious. It would not be a problem for a posteriori physicalists should phenomenal concepts turn out to be the only (non-indexical) concepts that either lack strong or weak functional analyses. “On the contrary,” the a posteriori physicalist will claim. Not for no reason has there been a “mind-body problem” for centuries. A posteriori physical readily acknowledge that a claim like ‘Pain is N’ will be problematic ways that a claim like ‘Water is H2O’ is not—that puzzles arise concerning the former that do not arise concerning the latter. Perhaps the explanation for the differences is that concepts such as
primary and secondary intension). They maintain that a concept C and a concept C’ can have the same A-intension and C-intension, and yet the concepts be distinct, and there be no a priori link between them. For a discussion of how, see McLaughlin 2003a.

30

280

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

the concept of water have weak functional analyses, and that the concepts such as the concept of pain lack either weak or strong functional analyses.31 On one interpretation, Joseph Levine’s (2001) explanatory gap thesis is the thesis states of phenomenal consciousness cannot be physically explained via either strong or weak functional analysis. A posteriori physicalists maintain that there is an unbridgeable explanatory gap in exactly that sense.32 But they deny that we can infer an ontological gap from the explanatory gap. They maintain that facts about phenomenal consciousness are explainable in terms of neuro-scientific or psycho-functional facts, albeit only by appeal to a posteriori psychophysical identities, not by appeal to weak or strong functional analyses. They maintain that what explains the gap is differences in the conceptual roles of phenomenal concepts on the one hand, and physical concepts on the other hand. Given the different conceptual roles of such concepts, there are no a priori links between such concepts of the sort required for strong or weak functional analysis. The differences, they maintain, are nevertheless compatible with a phenomenal concept and a neuroscientific or psychofunctional concept answering to the same property.33 An a posteriori physicalist might thus contend that we can explain why there is a mind-body problem by appeal to the explanatory gap.34 That explanation, the a posteriori physicalist will claim, is compatible with the truth of physicalism since physicalism is an ontological thesis.35
31

32

33 34

35

Even though I am an a posteriori physicalist, I am not here myself endorsing the claim that the concept of water actually has a weak functional analysis. I regard that as an unresolved issue. Levine counts psychophysical identity claims such as ‘Pain = N’ as “gappy identities,” by which he may just mean identity claims that cannot be deduced a priori from (1)-(3). See, e.g., Loar 1990/1997; Hill 1997; Hill-McLaughlin 1999; McLaughlin 2001a; 2001b; 2003a; 2003b; and forthcoming. Should it turn out that the concept of water lacks a weak functional analysis, then the explanatory gap will be less central to the mind-body problem than it may seem. For, then, ‘Water is H2O’ will be a gappy identity in Levine’s (2001) sense. It is worthwhile noting that it completely misses the point to respond that the relevant Cartesian property-dualist intuitions are about physical properties and conscious mental properties, not about physical concepts and phenomenal concepts. The point of the strategy is that we can explain why we have the intuitions by appeal to differences in phenomenal and physical concepts, where the differences do not entail that mental properties are distinct from physical properties. When someone has the intuition that Cicero can cease to exist without Tully ceasing to exist, his or her intuition is about Cicero and about Tully. But as Leibniz pointed out we can know an individual under one name, but not under another. And as Frege pointed out, we can know an individual under two names, but not know that the same individual falls under both names. We can explain why someone might have the intuition in question by appeal to the fact that they have a Cicero-concept and a Tully-concept, and their Cicero-concept is not a priori linked to their Tully-

Brian P. McLaughlin

281

In any case, as mentioned above, a posteriori physicalists claim that there are a posteriori psychophysical identities between types of states of phenomenal consciousness and types of neuro-scientific or psycho-functional states. They maintain on empirical grounds that there are correlations between the types of states in question. And they maintain that the best explanation of such correlations is that the correlates are identical. The concepts we use to express the correlates are different, and there is no a priori link between them, but the concepts answer to the same property. As also mentioned above, there are a number of formidable philosophical challenges to such psychophysical identity claims. The challenges either purport to show either that such identity claims would be a priori false or else that they would be unjustifiable. In either case, they would not be justifiable by a best explanation argument, or indeed by any argument. An example of the first sort of challenge is Nagel’s Challenge to explain how a subjective property could be an objective one.36 Those who maintain Nagel’s Challenge cannot be met hold that it is a priori that no subjective property is an objective one (and that no objective property is a subjective one), and thus that it is a priori that the psychophysical identity claims in question are false. An example of the second sort of challenge is Kripke’s Challenge to explain away the appearance of contingency of the a posteriori psychophysical identity claims in question.37 Those who maintain that Kripke’s Challenge cannot be met hold that such psychophysical identity claims are unjustifiable in principle. A posteriori physicalists concede that phenomenal concepts lack either weak or strong functional analyses, but maintain that the challenges can be met nonetheless.38 These challenges rest on the assumption that phenomenal concepts lack either weak or strong functional analyses, an assumption that a posteriori
concept. It is no challenge at all to this explanation of why they have the distinctness intuition that their intuition is about Cicero and about Tully, not about their Cicero-concept and their Tully-concept. Nagel 1974, and 1985. Kripke 1980. The gist of the response to Nagel’s Challenge is that the subjective/objective distinction is, in the first instance, an epistemic distinction. What are, in the first instance, subjective or objective are concepts, not properties. And a property can be subjective under one concept and objective under another. (See Loar 1991/1997; Sturgeon 1994.) That subjective concepts cannot be weakly or strongly functionally analyzed in terms of objective concepts is compatible with a subjective concept and an objective one answering to the same property. As concerns Kripke’s Challenge, the leading response is to offer an alternative to his own model for explaining away the appearance of contingency of a posteriori, necessary claims, an alternative model that will explain away the appearance of contingent psychophysical identity claims (see Hill 1997; and Hill and McLaughlin 1999). For further discussion of these and other challenges, see McLaughlin 2003a.

36 37 38

282

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

physicalists accept. A priori physicalists that are realists about phenomenal consciousness, however, maintain that they do not face the challenges since that underlying assumption is false. Phenomenal concepts, they claim, have either weak or strong functional analyses. But this claim seems deeply implausible. The reason that the challenges in question seem truly formidable is that phenomenal concepts indeed seem to lack either sort of functional analysis. There indeed seems to be an explanatory gap due to the lack of appropriate strongly a priori links between physical concepts and phenomenal concepts. A priori physicalists maintain that there is no explanatory gap. Unfortunately, however, they have yet to produce a successful weak or strong functional analysis of any phenomenal concepts. One position for an a posteriori physicalist to take is that it is deeply implausible that any such functional analysis will be forthcoming, and so that a priori physicalism is deeply implausible. A stronger position for an a posteriori physicalist to take is that it is strongly a priori that phenomenal concepts lack any such analysis. I myself favor this stronger position. I think that phenomenal concepts are subjective concepts, that physical concepts are objective concepts, and that it is strongly a priori that subjective concepts lack either weak or strong functional analyses since terms that meet (a) or (b) or (c) will be purely objective terms. I take that to be the most general moral of knowledge-arguments, such as Jackson’s Mary-argument.39 The explanatory gap arises because of our concepts of states of phenomenal consciousness—our phenomenal concepts. It would not close the explanatory gap to replace those concepts with other concepts. Doing so would, rather, just to be embrace irrealism as concerns states of phenomenal consciousness: it would be to embrace the view that no states answer to our phenomenal concepts. Thus, suppose that Chalmers is right the term ‘pain’ sometimes expresses the phenomenal concept of pain and sometimes expresses a purely functional concept.40 The purely functional concept of pain, by hypothesis, would have either a strong or weak functional analysis, depending on the specific nature of the functional concept. A posteriori physicalist and Cartesian property-dualists do not deny that we can deduce a priori from (1)(3) that some human beings are in pain, if, by ‘pain’, one means “purely functional pain.” So, if that is what a priori physicalists are insisting, then there is no dispute on that score with a posteriori physicalists or with Cartesian property-dualists. What a posteriori physicalists maintain is that we
39 40

For Jackson’s Mary-argument, see Jackson 1982. For a discussion of the general moral of knowledge-arguments, see McLaughlin 2003a. See Chalmers’s 1996. I do not believe that ordinary English term ‘pain’ is ambiguous as between a phenomenal use and a purely functional use. I am uncertain whether Chalmers believes that either since he may take the purely functional use to be technical. In any case, we could of course introduce a use of ‘pain’ to express a purely functional concept of the sort that he has in mind.

Brian P. McLaughlin

283

cannot deduce a priori from (1)-(3) that some human beings feel pain, in the phenomenal sense of pain. If having purely functional pain is just like having pain, except for the subjective feel of pain, then having purely functional pain is not having pain in the sense at issue. If a priori physicalists deny that there is any pain or the like in the phenomenal sense, then they are eliminativists as concerns phenomenal consciousness. The real dispute between a priori physicalist and a posteriori physicalists is then over whether we should be realists about phenomenal consciousness. A posteriori physicalists maintain that we should be, and thus that the only tenable physicalism is a posteriori physicalism. If a priori physicalists maintain that we should be eliminativists about phenomenal consciousness, that our phenomenal concepts such be replaced by purely functional concepts, then they pay far too high a price for their physicalism. If physicalism requires denying the reality of phenomenal consciousness, then better to follow the Cartesian property-dualist in rejecting physicalism.41 We a posteriori physicalists, however, maintain that there is no such cost to being a physicalist. One can be a realist about phenomenal consciousness while also being a physicalist. If a priori physicalists are led to irrealism about phenomenal consciousness by their theoretical beliefs about the relationship between concepts and properties, then they would do better to be realists about phenomenal consciousness and revise those theoretical beliefs.

Bibliography
Broad, Charlie D. (1925). The Mind and Its Place in Nature. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Chalmers, David (1996). The Conscious Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. Field, Hartry (1996). The A Prioricity of Logic. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 96: 359-76. Hawthorne, James (2002). Blocking Definitions of Materialism. Philosophical Studies 110: 103-113. Hill, Christopher S. (1991). Sensations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hill, Christopher S.(1997). Imaginability, Conceivability, Possibility, and the MindBody Problem. Philosophical Studies 87: 61-85. Hill, Christopher S. and McLaughlin, Brian P. (1999). There are Fewer Things than are Dreamt of in Chalmers’ Philosophy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2: 445-54. Jackson, Frank (1982). Epiphenomenal Qualia. Philosophical Quarterly 32: 127-36. Jackson, Frank (1988). From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
41

That is not to say that Cartesian property-dualism should be embraced were that the case. Cartesian property-dualism is not the only possible alternative to physicalism. There is also, for instance, neutral monism.

284

A Priori versus A Posteriori Physicalism

Jackson, Frank (2005). The Case for A Priori Physicalism. In: Christian Nimtz and Ansgar Beckermann (eds.) (2005). Philosophy – Science – Scientific Philosophy. Main Lectures and Colloquia of GAP.5, Fifth International Congress of the Society for Analytical Philosophy, Bielefeld, 22–26 September 2003, Paderborn: mentis. Kripke, Saul (1980). Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Levine, Joseph (2001). Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press. Loar, Brian (1990/7). Phenomenal States, in Ned Block, Owen Flanagan, and Güven Güzeldere (eds.) (1997). The Nature of Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. McLaughlin, Brian P. (1992). The Rise and Fall of British Emergentism, in Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr, and Jaegwon Kim (eds.) (1992). Emergence or Reduction? Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 49-93. McLaughlin, Brian P. (1994). Epiphenomenalism, in Samuel Guttenplan (ed.) (1996). A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 277-288. McLaughlin, Brian P. (1995). Varieties of Supervenience. In: Elias E. Savellos and Umit D. Yalcin (eds.) (1995). Supervenience: New Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 16-59. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2000). Self-Knowledge, Externalism, and Skepticism. Proceedings of the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary 74: 93-118. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2001a). Physicalism and Its Alternatives. In: Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 1142-7. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2001b). In Defense of New Wave Materialism, in Barry Loewer (ed.) (2001). Physicalism and Its Discontents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2003a). A Naturalist-Phenomenal Realist Response to Block’s Harder Problem. Philosophical Issues 13: 163-204. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2003b). Colour, Consciousness, and Colour Consciousness. In: Quentin Smith and Aleksandar Jokic (eds.) (2003). Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McLaughlin, Brian P. (2003c). McKinsey’s Challenge, Warrant Transmission, and Skepticism. In: Susanna Nuccetelli (ed.) (2003). New Essays on Semantic Externalism, Skepticism, and Self-Knowledge. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. McLaughlin, Brian P. (forthcoming). In Defense of Best-Explanation Arguments for Type-Type Psychophysical Identities. Nagel, Thomas (1974). What it is Like to Be a Bat? Philosophical Review 83: 435-50. Nagel, Thomas (1985). The View From Nowhere. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Papineau, David (1993) Physicalism, Consciousness, and the Anti-Pathetic Fallacy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71: 69-83. Papineau, David (2002). Thinking About Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pollock, John L. (1974). Knowledge and Justification. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pollock, John L. (1986). Contemporary Theories of Knowledge. Totowa, N.J.: Roman and Littlefield.

Brian P. McLaughlin

285

Quine, Willard Van Orman (1953). Two Dogmas of Empiricism, in Willard Van Orman Quine (1963). From a Logical Point of View. New York: Harper & Row. Sturgeon, Scott (1994). The Epistemic View of Subjectivity. Journal of Philosophy 91/5: 221-35.

286 vakat