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A priori arguments for reductionism

Jennifer Rea Susse, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Recently, several philosophers have argued that nonreductive physicalism is a false, unstable, and incoherent position. I argue that the position these critics are attacking is a straw one. To help explain why let us distinguish three issues about which nonreductive physicalists might plausibly be thought to have an opinion: (i) ontological considerations about the types of things that exist at a world, (ii) issues involving the existence and nature of any dependency relationships between the types of things that exist at a world, and (iii) epistemological questions regarding the best way to describe, explain, or characterize the types of things that exist at a world. I argue that reductive and nonreductive physicalists essentially agree with respect to the first two issues, but disagree with respect to the last issue. Nonreductive physicalists advocate a position that is ontologically or metaphysically reductive, but epistemologically or representationally nonreductive. Although this position could prove false on empirical grounds, it is neither unstable nor incoherent.

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Recommended Citation

Susse, Jennifer Rea, "A priori arguments for reductionism" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110558.