BLOCKING BLOCKERS: A REPLY TO HAWTHORNE

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Author(s): 
James M. Grindeland
The University of North Georgia
Issue number: 
No. 2 (Vol. 44)
Pages: 
112-124
Abstract: 

Physicalism is roughly the thesis that everything is physical. The two most popular ways of formulating physicalism rigorously are the ways given by Frank Jackson and David Chalmers. The best objections, in turn, include John Hawthorne’s ‘blocker’ objections. Hawthorne argues that, if it is possible for there to be non-physical beings or properties that prevent certain mental phenomena from existing (i.e., non-physical blockers), Jackson’s and Chalmers’ formulations will be inadequate. Jackson’s formulation will be inadequate by virtue of not capturing all of the right physical dependence principles. Chalmers’ formulation will be inadequate in so far as, when modified to define ‘restricted physicalisms’—such as physicalism of the mental—the restricted formulations will not capture all of the right physical dependence principles. By contrast, I object to Hawthorne’s blocker arguments in three ways. First, I argue that non-physical blockers are impossible, in which case Hawthorne’s blocker arguments are misguided—worrying about something that isn’t possible anyway. Second, I argue that his critique of Chalmers’ formulation is unsound, as it falsely presupposes that restricted physicalisms require restricted formulations of physicalism. Third, I argue that Jackson’s and Chalmers’ formulations do capture all of the right physical dependence principles.

Keywords: 
blockers, physicalism
References: 

Chalmers, D. The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Chalmers, D. and F. Jackson. Conceptual Analysis and Reductive Explanation. In Philosophical Review110, no. 3, 2001 : 315-61.

Hawthorne, J. Blocking Definitions of Materialism. In Philosophical Studies 110, no. 2, March 2002 : 103-113.

Jackson, F. Epiphenomenal Qualia. In The Philosophical Quarterly 32, no. 127, April 1982 : 127-36.

Jackson, F. What Mary Didn’t Know. In The Journal of Philosophy 83, no. 5, May 1986 : 291-5.

Jackson, F. Armchair Metaphysics. In Philosophy in Mind, ed. M. Michael and J. O’Leary-Hawthorne. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994 : 23-42.

Jackson, F. From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Stoljar, D. Physicalism. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2009.

DOI: 
10.5840/eps201544212
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