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Volume 52 Issue 5
May 2020
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Citation: Xiaoyang WANG. Physicalism Is Not Equal to Physics-ism[J]. Academic Monthly, 2020, 52(5): 15-29. shu

Physicalism Is Not Equal to Physics-ism

  • How to formulate physicalism is one of the two difficult problems facing contemporary physicalists. There are four common solutions to the formulation of physicalism: theory-based solution, object-based solution, Via Negativa, and attitude solution. In this article, I first discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the four common solutions. Based on these, I propose a new solution and demonstrate that by virtue of the new solution, we can not only provide a proper definition for “the physical”, but also deal with the main challenges facing the four common solutions, especially Hempel’s Dilemma and panpsychism. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the new solution is more plausible. Finally, I make it clear that if the new solution is more plausible, we should adjust our understanding of physicalism: physicalism is not an empirical thesis but a metaphysical one. A proper understanding of physicalism should not depend on empirical science, especially physics. Physicalism is not equal to physics-ism.
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        Physicalism Is Not Equal to Physics-ism

        Abstract: How to formulate physicalism is one of the two difficult problems facing contemporary physicalists. There are four common solutions to the formulation of physicalism: theory-based solution, object-based solution, Via Negativa, and attitude solution. In this article, I first discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the four common solutions. Based on these, I propose a new solution and demonstrate that by virtue of the new solution, we can not only provide a proper definition for “the physical”, but also deal with the main challenges facing the four common solutions, especially Hempel’s Dilemma and panpsychism. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the new solution is more plausible. Finally, I make it clear that if the new solution is more plausible, we should adjust our understanding of physicalism: physicalism is not an empirical thesis but a metaphysical one. A proper understanding of physicalism should not depend on empirical science, especially physics. Physicalism is not equal to physics-ism.

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