How Philosophy of Mind Needs Philosophy of Chemistry

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Earley, Joseph
preprint description
By the 1960s many (perhaps most) philosophers had adopted ‘physicalism’ ─ the view that physical causes fully account for mental activities. However, controversy persists about what count as ‘physical causes’. ‘Reductive’ physicalists recognize only microphysical (elementary-particle-level) causality. Many (perhaps most) physicalists are ‘non-reductive’ ─ they hold that entities considered by other (‘special’) sciences have causal powers. Philosophy of chemistry can help resolve main issues in philosophy of mind in three ways: developing an extended mereology applicable to chemical combination, testing whether ‘singularities’ prevent reduction of chemistry to microphysics, and demonstrating ‘downward causation’ in complex networks of chemical reactions.