Physicalism: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By Daniel Stoljar


252 pages

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Paperback: 9780415452632
pub: 2010-02-10
Hardback: 9780415452625
pub: 2010-02-10
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203856307
pub: 2010-04-05
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Physicalism, the thesis that everything is physical, is one of the most controversial problems in philosophy. Its adherents argue that there is no more important doctrine in philosophy, whilst its opponents claim that its role is greatly exaggerated. In this superb introduction to the problem Daniel Stoljar focuses on three fundamental questions: the interpretation, truth and philosophical significance of physicalism. In answering these questions he covers the following key topics:

  • a brief history of physicalism and its definitions
  • what a physical property is and how physicalism meets challenges from empirical sciences
  • ‘Hempel’s dilemma’ and the relationship between physicalism and physics
  • physicalism and key debates in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, such as supervenience, identity and conceivability
  • physicalism and causality.

Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making Physicalism ideal for those coming to the problem for the first time.


'The book is accessible to the advanced undergraduate and covers all the basic lines of thought surrounding materialism. But it also contains controversial theses (there is no physicalism, Hempel's dilemma is a mistake) that will grab the attention of and demand replies from the most advanced researchers. It's all done in crystal clear modus ponens style. Physicalism gives us everything for which we could reasonably ask, and more.' - Australasian Journal of Philosophy

'Physicalism should serve not just to stimulate debate but to help clarify what questions are most pressing when it comes to physicalism, and this is on its own a most welcome contribution.' - Metascience

'An elegant and insightful introduction to one of the most puzzling dogmas of contemporary metaphysics - much needed and highly recommended.' - Huw Price, University of Sydney, Australia

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The Standard Picture 2. Form and Alternatives 3. The Starting Point View 4. The Theory View 5. Hempel’s Dilemma 6. The Necessity View 7. Is Necessitation Necessary? 8. Is Necessitation Sufficient? 9. Skeptics and True Believers 10. Arguments Against Physicalism 11. Arguments for Physicalism Conclusion. Glossary. Notes. Bibliography. Index

About the Series

New Problems of Philosophy

New Problems of Philosophy

Series Editor: José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M University

'Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series has a most impressive line-up of topical volumes aimed at upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and at others with interests in cutting edge philosophical work. The authors are influential figures in their respective fields and notably adept at synthesizing and explaining intricate topics fairly and comprehensively.' - John Heil, Monash University, Australia, and Washington University, St Louis, USA

'This is an outstanding collection of volumes. The topics are well chosen and the authors are outstanding. They will be fine texts in a wide range of courses.' - Stephen Stich, Rutgers University, USA

The New Problems of Philosophy series provides accessible and engaging surveys of the most important problems in contemporary philosophy. Each book examines a topic or theme that has emerged on the philosophical landscape in recent years, or that is a longstanding problem refreshed in light of recent work in philosophy and related disciplines. Clearly explaining the nature of the problem at hand and assessing attempts to answer it, books in the series are excellent starting-points for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to study a single topic in depth. They will also be essential reading for professional philosophers. Additional features include chapter summaries, further reading, and a glossary of technical terms.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics