METAPHYSICS OF MIND – What Is Physicalism?

Here, Dr Will McNeill sets out the headline claim of physicalism – that everything is physical – and discusses its implications in the philosophy of mind. He discusses and rejects the possibility that minds or mental states are a kind of physical thing, and introduces token identity theory.

1. Is magnetism physical? Would denying this undermine physicalism?
2. Do octopuses feel pain? Reflect on and try to bring out the reasoning behind your answer.
3. Was I too quick to reject ‘eliminative materialism’?
4. “If pains are different from any physical property, they will both compete with physical properties to explain your behaviour, and lose that competition”. What are the implications of this line of reasoning? Are the two conclusions reached in the quotation both correct?

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