What is the Physical?

Barbara Gail Montero

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199262618
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

What is the Physical?

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Addressing the question of what is the physical is important not only for understanding the general thesis of physicalism, but also for assessing the strength and significance of a number of the central arguments regarding physicalism and the physical nature of the mind. For example, debates over the possibility of zombies pervade the literature on consciousness. Zombies, in the relevant sense, are supposed to be creatures that are just like us in every physical respect yet lack consciousness. Are such creatures possible? Some have argued that while it is not conceivable, or logically possible, that there could be, say, H2O that is not water, it is conceivable that there could be worlds that are physical duplicates of ours yet populated by zombies rather than conscious human beings, and thus consciousness does not logically supervene on the physical.

Keywords: physicalism; consciousness; nature of mind; physical duplicates; physicalism; physical nature

Article.  8556 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Philosophy of Mind

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