Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 155, Issue 1, pp 133–160 | Cite as

Supervenience arguments under relaxed assumptions

  • Johannes Schmitt
  • Mark Schroeder
Article

Abstract

When it comes to evaluating reductive hypotheses in metaphysics, supervenience arguments are the tools of the trade. Jaegwon Kim and Frank Jackson have argued, respectively, that strong and global supervenience are sufficient for reduction, and others have argued that supervenience theses stand in need of the kind of explanation that reductive hypotheses are particularly suited to provide. Simon Blackburn’s arguments about what he claims are the specifically problematic features of the supervenience of the moral on the natural have also been influential. But most discussions of these arguments have proceeded under the strong and restrictive assumptions of the S5 modal logic. In this paper we aim to remedy that defect, by illustrating in an accessible way what happens to these arguments under relaxed assumptions and why. The occasion is recent work by Ralph Wedgwood, who seeks to defend non-reductive accounts of moral and mental properties together with strong supervenience, but to evade both the arguments of Kim and Jackson and the explanatory challenge by accepting only the weaker, B, modal logic. In addition to drawing general lessons about what happens to supervenience arguments under relaxed assumptions, our goal is therefore to shed some light on both the virtues and costs of Wedgwood’s proposal.

Keywords

Supervenience Reduction Modal logic Ralph Wedgwood Jaegwon Kim Frank Jackson 

References

  1. Blackburn, S. (1973). Moral realism. In J. Casey (Ed.), Morality, moral reasoning (pp. 111–129). London: Methuen. (Reprinted in Essays in quasi-realism, by S. Blackburn, Ed., 1993, Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Blackburn, S. (1984). Spreading the word. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blackburn, S. (1985). Supervenience revisited. In I. Hacking (Ed.), Exercises in analysis (pp. 130–148). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Reprinted in Essays in quasi-realism, by S. Blackburn, Ed., 1993, Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  4. Fine, K. (1994). Essence and modality. Philosophical Perspectives, 8, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hellman, G. (1985). Determination and logical truth. Journal of Philosophy, 82, 607–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hughes, G. E., & Cresswell, M. J. (1996). A new introduction to modal logic. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jackson, F. (1998). From metaphysics to ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Kim, J. (1984). Concepts of supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45, 153–176. (Reprinted in Supervenience and mind, pp. 53–78, by J. Kim, Ed., 1993, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  9. Kim, J. (1987). ‘Strong’ and ‘global’ supervenience revisited. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48, 315–326. (Reprinted in Supervenience and mind, pp. 79–91, by J. Kim, Ed., 1993, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  10. McLaughlin, B. (1997). Supervenience, vagueness, and determination. In J. Tomberlin (Ed.), Philosophical perspectives, Vol. 11: Mind, causation, and world. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. Paull, C., & Sider, T. (1992). In defense of global supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 32, 830–845.Google Scholar
  12. Schroeder, M. (2005). Realism and reduction: The quest for robustness. The Philosophers’ Imprint 5(1): www.philosophersimprint.org/005001/.
  13. Wedgwood, R. (2000). The price of non-reductive physicalism. Nous, 34(3), 400–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Wedgwood, R. (2007). The nature of normativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations