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Blocking Definitions of Materialism

J. P. Hawthorne
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 110, No. 2 (Aug., 2002), pp. 103-113
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4321288
Page Count: 11
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Blocking Definitions of Materialism
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Abstract

It is often thought that materialism about the mind can be clarified using the concept of supervenience. But there is a difficulty. A materialist should admit the possibility of ghosts and thus should allow that a world might duplicate the physical character of our world and enjoy, in addition, immaterial beings with mental properties. So materialists can't claim that every world that is physically indistinguishable from our world is also mentally indistinguishable; and this is well known. What is less understood are the different ways that immaterial add-ons can make trouble for supervenience-theoretic formulations of materialism. In this paper, I shall present a problematic kind of add-on that has been ignored and look at three supervenience-theoretic attempts to formulate materialism in that light.

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