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Friday, August 26, 2016

Fundamentality and the Mind-Body Problem

Philip Goff
August 2016, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 881–898


In the recent metaphysics literature, a number of philosophers have independently endeavoured to marry sparse ontology to abundant truth. The aim is to keep ontological commitments minimal, whilst allowing true sentences to quantify over a vastly greater range of entities than those which they are ontologically committed to. For example, an ontological commitment only to concrete, microscopic simples might be conjoined with a commitment to truths such as ‘There are twenty people working in this building’ and ‘There are prime numbers greater than 5.’ I argue that a significant challenge to this project comes from the philosophy of mind. As Theodore Sider has pointed out, anti-physicalism is consistent with a sparse ontology. However, I will try to show that the premises of the standard anti-physicalist arguments can be used to form an argument to the conclusion that sentences which quantify over subjects of experience ontologically commit us to subjects of experience. Truths about consciousness cannot be bought more cheaply than their superficial grammar suggests.

The article is here.

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