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Physicalism, the Identity Theory, and the Doctrine of Emergence

John Kekes
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1966), pp. 360-375
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/186639
Page Count: 16
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Physicalism, the Identity Theory, and the Doctrine of Emergence
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Abstract

I physicalism1 and the weak identity theory deny, while physicalism2 and the radical identity theory assert, that raw feels can be accomodated in a purely physicalistic framework. II A way of interpreting the claim of physicalism1 is that raw feels are emergents. III The doctrine of emergence asserts that: (i) there are different levels of existence, (ii) these levels of existence are distinguishable on the basis of the behaviour of entities of that level, and (iii) an adequate scientific explanation of a lower level is inadequate for a higher level. IV The criteria of emergence are novelty and a priori unpredictability. V Either qualities or laws or both may be regarded as emergents. VI If the alleged impossibility of explaining higher level phenomena on the basis of explanation adequate for lower level phenomena is logical, then the impossibility is either trivial or it implies indeterminism. Consideration of theories of emergence: VII Semantic emergence. On this view emergence is theory-bound, analogous to indefinability or indemonstrability. VIII Methodological emergence. On this view what we regard as emergents depends on the theory we construct. IX Nomological emergence. On this view emergence is an empirical problem. Conclusion: if there are emergents, physicalism2 and the radical identity theory probably have to be abandoned. However, unless actual examples of emergents are produced both theories hold. The logical possibility of falsification is not an objection against physicalism2 and the radical identity theory; it is one of their merits.

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