Physicalism, Supervenience and the Fundamental Level

Robin Brown, JAC Ladyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


We provide a formulation of physicalism, and show that this is to be favoured over alternative formulations. Much of the literature on physicalism assumes without argument that there is a fundamental level to reality, and we show that a consideration of the levels problem and its implications for physicalism tells in favour of the form of physicalism proposed here. Its key elements are, first, that the empirical and substantive part of physicalism amounts to a prediction that physics will not posit entities solely for the purpose of accounting for mental phenomena, nor new entities with essentially mental characteristics such as propositional attitudes or intentions; secondly, that physicalism can safely make do with no more than a weak global form of supervenience.
Translated title of the contributionPhysicalism, Supervenience and the Fundamental Level
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20 - 38
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number234
Early online date2 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Science and Philosophy
  • Centre_for_science_and_philosophy


  • physicalism
  • supervenience
  • fundamental level


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