Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Faculty of Arts Lecture Series

Friday, November 16, 2018 -
3:15pm to 5:00pm
Location: Gerald Schwartz School of Business, Room 156
Event Type: Lecture
Confessions of a Non-Reductive Physicalist

Friday, 16 November @ 3:15 p.m. in Schwartz 156

“Confessions of a Non-Reductive Physicalist: My Life with Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy”

with Dr. Christopher Byrne, Department of Philosophy

Abstract:

Ordinary experience tells us that the perceptible world consists of many different kinds of thing, most of which depend for their existence and operation on the raw materials from which they are made. Biological organisms, for example, are both many in kind and depend on their chemical and physical parts to perform their biological functions. The same dependence of the whole on its parts holds of physical artefacts such as houses and cell phones. Reductive materialists argue that not only are perceptible objects dependent on their raw materials, but everything about perceptible objects can be explained by the matter from which they are made. Consequently, there is just one science, physics. Against this view, non-reductive physicalism holds that when physical objects reach a certain level of complexity they can no longer be understood simply in terms of their raw materials; such objects are said to be irreducible to their matter. This lecture sets out the basic claims of non-reductive physicalism and argues that Aristotle too held this view. Indeed, he was perhaps the first non-reductive physicalist in the Western philosophical-scientific tradition.

 

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