1st Edition

What's Wrong With Microphysicalism?

By Andreas Huttemann Copyright 2004
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    'Microphysicalism', the view that whole objects behave the way they do in virtue of the behaviour of their constituent parts, is an influential contemporary view with a long philosophical and scientific heritage. In What's Wrong With Microphysicalism? Andreas Hüttemann offers a fresh challenge to this view.

    Hüttemann agrees with the microphysicalists that we can explain compound systems by explaining their parts, but claims that this does not entail a fundamentalism that gives hegemony to the micro-level. At most, it shows that there is a relationship of determination between parts and wholes, but there is no justification for taking this relationship to be asymmetrical rather than one of mutual dependence. Hüttemann argues that if this is the case, then microphysicalists have no right to claim that the micro-level is the ultimate agent: neither the parts nor the whole have 'ontological priority'. Hüttemann advocates a pragmatic pluralism, allowing for different ways to describe nature.

    What's Wrong With Microphysicalism? is a convincing and original contribution to central issues in contemporary philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and metaphysics.

    Introduction 1. Microphysicalism 1. The multi-layered conception of reality 2. Microphysicalism 3. The significance of microphysicalism 4. Analysis of the argument for microphysicalism 2. Laws of nature 1. Explanation, manifestation and instantiation 2. Laws and dispositions 3. Continuously manifestable dispositions 4. What is explained by the assumption of CMDs? 5. Conclusion 3. Micro-explanation 1. Distinctions 2. Micro-explanation (1) and the explanation of bridge-laws 3. Micro-explanation (3): C.D. Broad on the relation of parts and wholes 4. Micro-explanation (3) at work 5. Micro-explanation (2) and micro-explanation (4): explaining the states of compound systems 6. Micro-explanation and emergence 7. Failure of micro-explanation (1): emergence in the sense of Kim 8. Failure of micro-explanation (3): emergence in the sense of Broad 9. The case of quantum-entanglement 10. A diagnosis 11. Other modes of explanation 12. Concluding remarks 4. What is the Issue? 1. The issue 2. Non-issue 1: functionalism 3. Non-issue 2: the explanatory gap 5. Micro-determination 1. Explanation 2. Determination 3. A note on the pragmatics of explanation 4. Underdetermination 5. Hegemony 6. Micro-explanation and micro-determination 7. Objections and replies 8. Conclusion 6. Micro-government and the laws of the special sciences 1. Autonomy 2. Micro-government 3. On the instantiation of micro-laws 4. The failure of supervenience 5. The relativity of instantiation 6. The special laws of many particle physics 7. Conclusion Apendix 7. Micro-causation 1. Three models of micro-dependent causation 2. Causation 3. Micro-causation 4. Conclusion 8. Microphysicalism, physicalism and pluralism 1. Definitions of physicalism 2. Microphysicalism and identity-physicalism 3. Ontological unity and pragmatic pluralism Bibliography


    Andreas Hüttemann is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bielefeld, Germany.

    'A very impressive work. It develops a convincing and original position on issues which are central to contemporary philosophy of mind and science ... It will quickly be recognized as an important contribution to the debate on physicalism.' - David Papineau, Kings College London