Assessment of the Physicalist Programme

Jeffrey Poland

in Physicalism

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780198249801
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681202 | DOI:
Assessment of the Physicalist Programme

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This chapter applies the criteria of assessment developed in Chapter 1 to the physicalist doctrine as developed in Chapters 3 to 5. It argues that the theses constitute adequate expressions of physicalist thought, and defends them against a wide range of objections, many of which are premised upon dated or improper formulations of physicalism. Of special importance is the identification of numerous unnecessary monopolistic overtones characteristic of many past formulations of the doctrine. The chapter discusses evidence bearing upon acceptance or rejection of the theses and identifies the principal obstacles to the success of the physicalist programme. What then emerges is a version of physicalism that is stronger than most extant versions, that is arguably defensible in the light of objections, and that does not fly in the face of obviously insurmountable obstacles. It is argued that the physicalist programme is alive and well, though, like any programme concerned with building, rather than decreeing, significant systems of knowledge, it faces many difficult obstacles to its successful completion.

Keywords: physicalism; physicalist doctrine; physicalist programme; monopolistic overtones

Chapter.  24560 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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