Powerful qualities, the conceivability argument and the nature of the physical

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

David Chalmers’ ‘conceivability’ argument against physicalism is perhaps the most widely discussed and controversial argument in contemporary philosophy of mind. Recently, several thinkers have suggested a novel response to this argument, which employs the ‘powerful qualities’ ontology of properties. In this paper, I argue that this response fails because it presupposes an implausible account of the physical/phenomenal distinction. In the course of establishing this, I discuss the so-called ‘ultimate’ argument for the claim that dispositional properties form the subject matter of physics. I argue that the ultimate argument can be interpreted in a strong or a weak way, and that the strong interpretation is implausible. I argue that this undermines the powerful qualities based response to the conceivability argument. I also argue for a general conclusion: that we should not define 'the physical' exclusively in terms of a distinction drawn from ontology.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1895-1910
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Volume174
Issue number8
Early online date15 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Chalmers, Powerful qualities, Physical , Dispositional properties, Conceivability argument, Ultimate argument