Parsimony considerations are ubiquitous in the literature concerning the nature of mental states. Other things being equal, physicalist views are preferred over dualist accounts on the grounds of the fact that they do not posit new fundamental properties in addition to the physical ones. This paper calls into question the widespread assumption that parsimony can provide reasons for believing that physicalism is a better candidate than dualism for solving the mind-body problem. After presenting the theoretical core of physicalism and dualism, I make explicit the meta-metaphysical assumptions the physicalist relies on when leveraging parsimony to support her view. In particular, the physicalist takes for granted that parsimony has an epistemic value in metaphysics. This point, however, is rather controversial. I argue that the most promising way to account for the epistemic value of parsimony is to ground it in the epistemic value of modesty, a higher-level theoretical virtue that has to do with the epistemic risk of a theory. Unfortunately for the physicalist, the modesty rationale does not ultimately favour physicalism over dualism.

Physicalism and the burden of parsimony

Zanotti, Giacomo
2021

Abstract

Parsimony considerations are ubiquitous in the literature concerning the nature of mental states. Other things being equal, physicalist views are preferred over dualist accounts on the grounds of the fact that they do not posit new fundamental properties in addition to the physical ones. This paper calls into question the widespread assumption that parsimony can provide reasons for believing that physicalism is a better candidate than dualism for solving the mind-body problem. After presenting the theoretical core of physicalism and dualism, I make explicit the meta-metaphysical assumptions the physicalist relies on when leveraging parsimony to support her view. In particular, the physicalist takes for granted that parsimony has an epistemic value in metaphysics. This point, however, is rather controversial. I argue that the most promising way to account for the epistemic value of parsimony is to ground it in the epistemic value of modesty, a higher-level theoretical virtue that has to do with the epistemic risk of a theory. Unfortunately for the physicalist, the modesty rationale does not ultimately favour physicalism over dualism.
Physicalism
Property dualism
Parsimony
Modesty
Modal commitment
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12076/10415
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