One thought on “David Papineau Live!

  1. I enjoyed this, and as always, like to hear what a more traditional physicalist thinks about Russelian monism (since, due to causal closure considerations, those are the two main views I often flirt with these days).

    I wanted to comment on the part where Prof Papineau mentions Humean intuitions in connection with panpsychists and the idea of categorical, non-dispositional properties.
    I also (like Prof Papineau) worry about the idea of the dispositions not being in some way essential to the physical particles. Like he mentions, this leads to some skepticism about the essence of those particles.

    The note I wanted to make is that this is precisely why I like the (to my eyes) more ambitious strands of Russelian monism that would purport to propose a categorical property grounding the dispositions of the particles of nature — so that the dispositions are metaphysically necessary, but not as a brute fact, rather explained by something. Not that I know successful theories like this, but as a theoretical possibility, those are quite attractive.

    The significance of these is that technically, even if phenomenal concepts were metaphysically informative in some way (transparent, translucent, etc in Philip Goff’s terminology), they seem not to tell us anything that rules out epiphenomenalism. Thus, the challenge is to develop some more expansive notion of what’s going on behind a brain state that both explains the qualitative feel and the causal efficacy.

    This also seems to address some of the issue about skepticism about the essence of physical particles — perhaps we can’t learn *everything* about those particles without in some sense being constituted by them (I don’t actually find that conclusion so strange this instant at least). However, we would indeed be learning something metaphysical about them by accessing their dispositions.

    I do sympathize with some of the motivations behind the Shoemaker view of dispositions, and so on, but I guess what I don’t see is what is wrong with contingent necessities enough to get rid of them entirely as a notion, even if our world’s own physical dispositions are themselves metaphysically necessary — contingent necessities seem like a reasonable notion, and it makes me think it might be good to have some further justification for why our laws of nature are not merely contingent necessities.

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