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1 Physicalism and Conceptual Analysis * Esa Díaz-León Physicalism is a widely held claim about the nature of the world. But, as it happens, it also has its detractors. The first step in order to settle this discussion should be to clarify the very claim of physicalism. Physicalists usually say things such as: that our world is exhausted by its physical nature, that the entities posited by physics are basic, that all truths depend on physical truths, among others. Many definitions of physicalism can be found in the literature, but it is not always clear whether they are different theses or not, and whether they have been refuted or not. In this essay, I want to discuss a very influential characterization of physicalism, the one proposed by David Chalmers and Frank Jackson 1. I will argue that this characterization is flawed. The structure of the paper is as follows: in the first section I will present Chalmers and Jackson s characterization of physicalism, and their views about whether physicalism, so understood, is true or false. In the second section I will explain the main argument for their characterization. In sections three and four, I will show some problems that their characterization faces. I will finish with some conclusions in section A characterization of physicalism and an argument against physicalism. David Chalmers main objective in his book The Conscious Mind (1996) is to reject physicalism, in particular to argue that the existence and nature of phenomenal consciousness make physicalism false. His argument, briefly put, is the following: (i) Physicalism = all truths are a priori entailed by microphysical truths. (ii) Phenomenal truths are not a priori entailed by microphysical truths. (iii) Conclusion: Physicalism is false. * I wish to thank Stephen Laurence and Dan López de Sa for many helpful comments and discussions. 1 They have offered that characterization in Chalmers (1996), Jackson (1998b) and Chalmers and Jackson (2001). I will focus on the latter, because it constitutes their most sophisticated and up-to-date exposition of the claim. 1

2 The first premise of this argument presents Chalmers notion of physicalism. This argument has been very influential and widely discussed. Many critics argue that (i) is wrong: they argue that it does not provide a good characterization of physicalism and therefore (ii) should not present a problem for physicalist philosophers. The fact that phenomenal truths are not a priori entailed by microphysical truths -the objection runsdoes not matter: physicalism is a different thesis, they claim, so Chalmers argument does not present any real problem for it. Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker (1999) follow this line of reply, arguing that there is no reason to expect that the phenomenal should be a priori entailed by the microphysical, because the rest of macroscopic truths are not so entailed either. Block and Stalnaker base their criticism on the idea that if ordinary, non-phenomenal macroscopic truths are not a priori entailed by microphysics, then the characterization of physicalism as a priori entailment (by microphysics) is not motivated. Their assumption is that many macroscopic truths such as those about water, gold, life, storms, etc, do not present any problem for (the intuitive notion of) physicalism; therefore if those ordinary macroscopic truths are not a priori entailed by microphysics, then the facts that other truths are not so entailed should not be a problem for physicalism either. Therefore, the key issue is whether non-phenomenal macroscopic truths can be a priori entailed by microphysics. Chalmers and Jackson (2001) focus on that question, trying to argue that macroscopic truths are indeed a priori entailed by microphysics, so their definition of physicalism is motivated: they argue that if the phenomenal is to be assimilated to the physical character of the world, it should meet the same conditions as the rest of properties. And if macroscopic facts are a priori entailed by microphysical ones, then we should require the same for phenomenal ones. If the latter fail to be so entailed, physicalism will be in trouble. Both Chalmers and Jackson agree that macroscopic truths are a priori entailed by microphysical truths, and that this gives evidence for the claim that phenomenal truths should be a priori entailed too, if physicalism is going to be true. But they disagree about the truth of physicalism: for 2

3 Chalmers phenomenal truths are not a priori entailed by microphysics (as stated in (ii)) but Jackson believes they really are a priori entailed by microphysics. 2 Chalmers and Jackson s characterization of physicalism (as presented in their (2001)) is much more sophisticated than (i). They recognise that (i), as it stands, is false, but they modify the thesis so that it becomes more plausible. The claim they argue for in their paper is not that a microphysical description of the world (P) entails a priori a macroscopic description of that world (M), but rather that PQTI M is a priori. I explain Q, T and I below. -T stands for a that s all clause. Chalmers and Jackson realize that microphysics alone could not entail negative truths about the world, that is, truths about what things do not exist in our world. For example, a physical description of a world does not rule out the possibility that there is added non-physical stuff in that world, such as angels made up of non-physical entities. In order to have sufficient information to rule out these possibilities, we have to include in the microphysical description the claim that this microphysical description is an exhaustive description of the world. -I includes indexical information to let you find yourself in a microphysical description of the world. Chalmers and Jackson argue that, for example, in order to discover the extension of the concept water in a microphysical description of a world, you need information about what stuff is located in your vicinity, therefore you need to know where you are. They say that we can interpret I as saying I am A and B is now, where A and B are microphysical descriptions. -Q represents the phenomenal information about the world, about the qualitative properties of all mental states that are taking place at t (for every time t that appears in the microphysical description). Chalmers and Jackson have included Q because they disagree about whether Q can be a priori entailed by PTI alone. According to Jackson, it can, but for Chalmers it cannot. And they argue that in order to infer many macroscopic truths we need phenomenal information. For example, in order to infer 2 Jackson has changed his views about this over the years. In Jackson (1982) he presented a strong argument against a priori entailment of phenomenal truths by microphysics, therefore an argument against physicalism (on his view). But nowadays (see, for instance, Jackson (1995)) he argues that he was wrong because it is possible to infer a phenomenal description of the world, given a (sufficiently enriched) microphysical description. 3

4 truths about red-coloured objects, we need to know what objects appear red to standard subjects, therefore we have to know what phenomenal properties are exemplified by colour-experiences of certain subjects. And according to Chalmers, we cannot infer that information from PTI alone, so we need to include Q in the microphysical description. To sum up, Chalmers and Jackson (2001) defend two claims: (I): PQTI M, where M is any ordinary macroscopic truth about our world. (II): The first claim, (I), motivates the claim that if phenomenal truths are not a priori entailed by microphysics, then physicalism is false. In the third and fourth sections of this paper, I will explain my worries with both claims. In the next section, I explain Chalmers and Jackson s detailed argument for (I). 2. Concept-possession and application conditionals. Chalmers and Jackson s argument for the a priori entailment from microphysics (plus QTI) to macroscopic truths has two parts, (I ) and (I ). Let s explain them in turn: (I ): For any macroscopic truth M (concerning the application of a concept C to an entity x), there is a material conditional of the sort E M that is a priori, where E represents the empirical information that we need to know in order to discover the extension of the concept C. For example, the following conditional is a conditional of the mentioned sort: (1): If x is the colourless, odourless stuff in the vicinity, fills rivers and lakes, falls from sky, and so on, then x is water. According to Chalmers and Jackson, a possessor of the concept water is able to infer a priori that x is water, given that she knows the antecedent of the conditional (1). She can know (1) a priori, merely in virtue of her possession of the concept. For Chalmers and Jackson, in order to possess a concept such as water (and in order to know the meaning of the word water ) we have to know a priori an application conditional like (1), which states the conditions of application of the concept. I cannot know the meaning of water (mutatis mutandis, I do not possess the concept) if I do not have any guide to apply the concept, in other words, if there is no situation in which I would think that something falls under water. It is not necessary that I am always right in applying the concept, but at least I have to associate some property F with it, such that 4

5 if I see that x has that property F, then I will think that the concept can be applied to x. 3 This is the associated-property theory of concepts. Chalmers and Jackson hold a subject-relative version of it, according to which different subjects can associate different properties with C, and therefore they will yield different application conditionals. If we accept that in order to possess a concept C, we have to associate with it a property F, then it follows that for every concept C there is an application conditional of the sort if x is F, then x falls under C that is a priori, this is, knowable merely in virtue of the possession of the concept. I think this is uncontroversial. 4 What is more problematic is any particular thesis about the type of property F that can be associated with C and therefore can appear in the antecedent of application conditionals. Chalmers and Jackson s example (1) suggests that the property that we associate with water is the property being the colourless, odourless stuff in the vicinity, which fills rivers and lakes, falls from sky, and so on. However, it seems that many competent speakers of the word water could fail to associate that property with water, but they would still be possessors of the concept. This does not present a problem if we bear in mind that according to Chalmers and Jackson, different subjects can associate different properties with water. Therefore, there is no single application conditional that will be a priori for all of them, but this is compatible with the idea that each of them knows a priori some application conditional. Therefore, we can accept this reading of (I ): for any macroscopic truth (the application of a macroscopic concept to an entity), there is some empirical evidence E that is sufficient for a priori entailing M. This is neutral concerning what type of information E should include. However, the second part of the argument is specifically about the content of E: (I ): E=PQTI Chalmers and Jackson argue that PQTI suffices to entail a priori M. They try to show that for a possessor of the concept, say, water, there is an a priori application 3 F could be single property, a conjunctive property, a disjunction of properties, or a cluster of properties. 4 At least, it is uncontroversial that if we accept the associated-property theory of concepts, it follows that for every concept, there is an a priori application conditional. The associated-property theory of concepts is more controversial, but I will assume it in what follows, for the sake of the discussion of Chalmers and Jackson s characterization of physicalism. For a defence of such a theory, see Jackson (1998a). 5

6 conditional whose antecedent is PQTI and whose consequent is a macroscopic truth about water, for example that water is H 2 0. There is a first problem with this idea: above we said that the application conditionals could vary from speaker to speaker. Then, why do Chalmers and Jackson say that PQTI is the antecedent of the application conditional of water? The word the here seems to imply that there is just one application conditional for every possessor of the concept water. Chalmers and Jackson answer that we should distinguish between deferred concept-possession and expert concept-possession. The subjects that fix the reference of water by means of deferred reference do not know a priori application conditionals of the sort PQTI M, but according to Chalmers and Jackson this is not a problem because we should focus on the experts. Unfortunately, they do not specify who the experts are. One possibility could be to define experts as those who know a priori that PQTI M, but of course this would make the thesis of a priori entailment vacuous. So a more precise account of experts is needed. Chalmers and Jackson contrast the case of deferential reference with the case of expert reference: this suggests that expert reference excludes all cases of reference that are deferential. There is deferential reference in the following case: a subject associates the property being the referent of these speakers utterances of water with the word water. We can define experts by contrast with deferential reference. But this does not seem enough, I think, for Chalmers and Jackson s purposes. For if some speakers associate a property F with a concept C, which is not really exemplified by the referent of C, then these speakers could not deduce truths about C from descriptions of possible scenarios. For example, if a subject thinks that water is blue, then she will not be able to deduce truths about water from a description about colourless, odourless stuff filling rivers, etc. Expert speakers should associate properties that are really had by the referent of every relevant concept C. Therefore, Chalmers and Jackson have to assume that an expert speaker is a subject who associates a property F with a concept C such that F does not appeal to the reference of C by other members of the community, and the referent of C does exemplify F. 5 5 I take it that they are talking about experts in the sense of subjects that are linguistically competent, that is, subjects with an adequate knowledge of the semantics of concepts, but these subjects do not have to possess specific knowledge about the subject matter of every concept. In other words, what makes a possessor of the concept water an expert possessor of the concept, in the relevant sense used here, is that she knows the (non-deferential) meaning of the word, not that she knows a lot about the 6

7 This theory of concepts is more controversial than the more general associatedproperty theory of concepts. It could be argued that it is not plausible to claim that every competent possessor of a concept C has to know a priori some property F that the referent of C exemplifies. If this point is correct, then Chalmers and Jackson would be in trouble, because if we let people who associate C with wrong Fs be experts speakers, then these subjects will not be able to perform the relevant a priori entailment, and therefore the claim that expert subjects can deduce M from microphysics merely in virtue of the possession of C (knowledge of the meaning of C ) will be jeopardised. Although I am sympathetic to this reply, I will not pursue it further here 6. In this work, I want to show that even if we accept what Chalmers and Jackson say about concepts, their characterization about physicalism is not motivated. Therefore, I will just assume, for the sake of argument, that expert speakers are those that know some right properties of the things that fall under their concepts. Recapitulating, the claim that Chalmers and Jackson defend is that for every expert possessor of a concept (in the explained sense), PQTI M is a priori. Let s put an example of one of these a priori entailments Let M be the macroscopic sentence water is H 2 0. Then, PQTI implies M because if a subject is offered a complete description of the world including PQTI, and she knows (1) (a priori application conditional for water ) then she can infer a priori that H 2 0 is water. The reasoning she would perform is the following: (1): If x is the colourless, odourless stuff in the vicinity, fills rivers and lakes, falls from sky, and so on, then x is water. (Application conditional for water ) (2): H 2 0 is the colourless, odourless stuff in the vicinity that fills rivers and lakes, falls from the sky, and so on. (Microphysical truth included in PQTI) (M): H 2 0 is water. (Macroscopic truth) There are several important issues here. The first one is whether (1) is an a priori conditional for every expert subject. Secondly, it is not clear whether (2) could be composition and dynamics of water. So, expert means competent, in this context. If Chalmers and Jackson wanted to use the phrase expert speakers in a stronger sense, to refer to scientists who know a lot about, say, the chemical features of water, then it would not be true that this knowledge can be obtained merely in virtue of the possession of the concept. But, of course, the application conditionals for every concept are obtained by the mere possession of the concept. Therefore, in order to know the relevant application conditional for every concept, (in order to be a competent speaker), it is not necessary to be expert in science. 6 See Laurence & Margolis (forthcoming) for a very interesting criticism of Jackson s views on concepts. 7

8 inferred from PQTI (or from PTI). I will express my doubts about these topics later (section 4). Before that, I will explain how Chalmers and Jackson think that the passage from microphysics to ordinary macroscopic truths should be performed. Chalmers and Jackson argue that we should make the passage from PQTI to M in two steps. First, PQTI entails a priori all macroscopic truths in the language of physics. Let s suppose that P specifies the physical properties of all fundamental entities (say, quarks). So PQTI offers information about the spatiotemporal position of every quark, its mass, motion, velocity and so on. According to Chalmers and Jackson, we can infer the physical properties of macroscopic physical bodies, because we can discover the mass, motion, shape, etc, of the macroscopic physical bodies that are constituted by the quarks (microphysical entities). The second step goes from the physical description of the macroscopic objects to the ordinary description of macroscopic objects: that is, we will attribute properties (couched in a vocabulary different form physics) to those macroscopic objects. For example, we will find the extension of words like water, gold, rain, rivers, etc. For that step, they recognise, the phenomenal information included in Q is crucial. In the next section, I will argue that we cannot use Q, if we want to motivate a notion of physicalism as a priori entailment by microphysics. In section 4, I will argue that the a priori entailment from microphysics to M is impossible, without the help of Q. 3. The problem of the phenomenal information. Chalmers and Jackson argue that the fact that they include Q in the microphysical description does not affect their case for physicalism as a priori entailment. In this section I want to raise worries about that. The main aim of Chalmers argument against physicalism (see section 1) is to point out a gap between the phenomenal realm and the physical realm. He argues that most truths are a priori entailed by microphysics, while phenomenal properties are not so entailed, therefore there is a big metaphysical gap between these two types of properties. In order to support this argument, he has to show that many non-phenomenal macroscopic truths are really entailed a priori by microphysics, in order to show that there is a gap between the phenomenal and the physical domain. 8

9 However, Chalmers and Jackson s strategy is a different one: they (try to) show that PQTI M. Therefore, Chalmers and Jackson have not motivated the thesis that macroscopic truths are a priori entailed by microscopic truths. They recognise that in order to perform the entailment, we need to include information about conscious experiences in the antecedent of the conditionals, because many concepts are constitutively linked to perceptual information. Thus, it does not seem justified to expect that phenomenal information will be a priori entailed by PTI. Truths about water, life, digestion, etc, are not supposed to pose any problem for physicalism, but, on other hand, these truths are not a priori entailed by PTI. Then, why should the lack of a priori entailment from microphysics to phenomenal truths (if there is such a lack) pose a problem for physicalism? I think that Chalmers and Jackson have not justified that physicalism requires a priori entailment by microphysics, because they have not shown any case of a macroscopic truth that is a priori entailed by microphysics. There are reasons to think that it is impossible to show that, since macroscopic truths cannot be a priori entailed by microphysics (plus that s all clause and indexicality) because our concepts are associated with information about perceptual knowledge of the world, and a description of the (macroscopic) world in the language of physics does not provide that information. 4. Theories of concepts and a priori entailment. As we have seen, the claim that Chalmers and Jackson are defending is that a microphysical description of the world, enriched with information about indexicality and phenomenology, plus a that s all clause, does entail a priori all truths about the world. But as we have seen in the previous section, in order to justify the claim that the failure of a priori entailment from PTI to phenomenal truths does falsify physicalism, they should show that many macroscopic truths are a priori entailed by PTI too. In this section, we will be concerned with both claims: the apriority of PQTI M, and that of PTI M. I want to come back to the issue of application conditionals, to examine different views about what type of conditionals we can know a priori, in virtue of possessing certain concepts. I will assess whether the a priori entailments PQTI M and PTI M are 9

10 correct or not, according to the respective views on application conditionals we assume in each case. The following different theories of application conditionals can be seen as different theories of concepts, or different versions of the associated-property theory of reference: -The minimal approach: according to this approach, in order to posses a concept C you need to know a conditional of the sort if x is F, then x falls under C, where F can be any property. This is compatible with the idea that different subjects, or even the same subject at different uses of the concept, can associate different properties with C, and it is also compatible with the view that F is the same for many concepts. -The metalinguistic approach: the property F, according to this view, is about metalinguistic properties of the referent, for example about its causal links with utterances of the expression (or with mental states of thinkers). Let s put an example of the correspondent application conditional, for the word water : (3) if x is the object at the causal origin of the causal link that reaches this token of the word water, then x is water. - The stereotypical approach: according to this view, in order to possess a concept you must associate the concept with stereotypical features of the object(s) falling under this concept. For example, in order to possess the concept water, speakers must know a priori some like (1). (1): If x is the colourless, odourless stuff in the vicinity, fills rivers and lakes, falls from sky, and so on, then x is water. Therefore, according to this view, we know how to find out the extension of our concepts in descriptions of possible scenarios that include information about the instantiation of these stereotypical features. Otherwise we would be unable to find the reference of, say, water : only if we know what entities exemplify the stereotype of water we will be able to deduce a priori facts about water from a description of a possible world. -The theoretical approach. According to this last view, in order to possess a concept you must know the theory in which this concept is formulated and embedded, for the concept acquired its content due to its role within that theory. For example, in order to possess the concept gene, one must know the theory of mendelian genetics, which provides information about the causal-functional role played by the concept gene in that theory, therefore giving its meaning. 10

11 In the remainder of this section, I would like to assess the alleged apriority of PQTI M and PTI M, in the light of these different views of concepts. First, it is very important to clarify the account of concepts that Chalmers and Jackson prefer. They say that we should focus on experts (Chalmers and Jackson (2001), p. 238), so it excludes deferential reference. Therefore, the minimal approach is too broad to be accepted, according to them. But it is worth remembering that if we did not accept anything stronger than the minimal approach, then both a priori entailments would be wrong. The reason is that a subject S could associate an exotic property F with C, such that there is no information about whether F is instantiated or not in PQTI, therefore this subject cannot perform the entailment (she would not know whether C is instantiated in that description). And, since according to the minimal approach this subject would be a competent possessor of the concept C, then it would be false that the entailment from PQTI to M can be performed just in virtue of the possession of the relevant concepts. However, let s focus on the other approaches. What about the metalinguistic approach? This seems to fulfil Chalmers and Jackson s criterion about experts on concepts. Let s see that with an example. Let S be a subject that knows a priori (3). (3) If x is the object at the causal origin of the causal link that reaches this token of the word water, then x is water. S is an expert possessor of water, because she knows a substantial, non-deferential property that is really exemplified by water. Then, S is able to infer truths about water only if she is presented with a description of a possible scenario that includes information about causal links between objects and utterances (causal links constituted by successive links of uses of the word). The problem seems clear: this information does not appear in PQTI, let alone PTI. As Chalmers and Jackson explain, PTI provides information about the basic properties (spatiotemporal position, mass, motion, velocity) of fundamental entities (quarks, let s assume) and from that, we can infer (they maintain) a physical description of the macroscopic world, that is, a description of medium-sized physical bodies in terms of their spatiotemporal position, mass, velocity, etc. Let s accept this is so; it does not help much, because this description does not say anything about what physical bodies are human beings, nor what noises are linguistic utterances. Hence, a subject endowed with an application conditional like (3) could not find the reference of water in a macrophysical description. Therefore, the second step 11

12 of Chalmers and Jackson s two-step passage from microphysics to truths about water fails. The addition of Q does not help much either (even if, a fortiori, it is not legitimate to include Q there in order to motivate the criterion of physicalism as a priori entailment by PTI). The reason is that, even if we have information about the perceptual appearances of all macroscopic objects (what they look like, the colours, odours, smells, etc, they have) we would be unable to find the reference of water, because we could not find out whether our only guide, namely, the metalinguistic property that appears at the antecedent of (3), is instantiated or not. Information about the perceptual properties of objects does not give us any clue about, for example, the causal links between them. Information about the colours and odours of certain beings is not sufficient to discover what specie they belong to. And without information about all those things, we cannot infer a priori whether there is water in a possible scenario. Block and Stalnaker (1999) make a similar point, arguing that if a subject S, ignorant of any chemistry, is offered a description of a water-boiling situation in microphysical terms, and a physical theory about the physical processes involved in water-boiling, she would not be able to infer that water is boiling in that situation, because she would not know that the stuff she calls water is that physical stuff described in microphysical terms in that description. Chalmers and Jackson argue that this example just shows that microphysics is not enough and information about indexicality (I) must be added. The subject needs locating information to know that the theory describes her own environment... (Op.cit., p. 340). But I do not see how I helps, because even if S knows where she is located, within that description of a water-boiling situation, the rest of the microphysical stuff would still be completely unknown for her. The relevant point is that she could not identify water. She would have a description of a possible situation, in terms of the microphysical properties of quarks around her: this would not show her what microphysical entities constitute water. Let s move to the stereotypical approach. According to it, competent speakers must associate stereotypical features with every concept. Therefore, they will be able to know a priori the relevant application conditionals, where the antecedents state what entities satisfy the stereotypes, and the consequents are truths about the application of the concepts. There are two issues here: the first is whether it is the case that the antecedents of these conditionals can be part (or consequence) of PQTI (and PTI). A 12

13 second issue is whether Chalmers and Jackson have justified the claim that in order to possess a concept competently, we must know its stereotype. Concerning the first, issue, we must evaluate whether PTI can offer sufficient information about stereotypical features. According to Chalmers and Jackson, microphysics (P) gives information about physical properties of fundamental entities, and from that we can infer the physical properties of macroscopic objects. We can accept this, but even so, it does not seem likely that we can infer further information from that. Even if we know the physical properties of macroscopic objects, how can we know whether these object exemplify stereotypical features? For example, from the fact that certain sample of liquid has certain mass, motion and shape, we cannot infer its colour, odour or relation with rivers and lakes 7. The only way in which we could infer this type of information from PTI is under the assumption that we can discover the extension of the stereotypical features of water, given a macrophysical description of a situation. But this is too strong for the stereotypical approach: if water is associated with its stereotypical features, the concepts of these stereotypical properties will also be associated with stereotypical features of their extensions. If we want to claim that we can discover whether the latter are instantiated or not in a macrophysical description, then we have to assume that they are macrophysical features. But this is too strong, because according to the stereotypical approach our concepts are associated with stereotypical features, but it is neutral concerning the level of the features. However, Chalmers and Jackson require that we associate some concepts with lower-level properties, in order to find out their extensions in a description of macroscopic objects. For example, in order to discover what entities are odourless, colourless, fill rivers, etc, in a macroscopic description, we should discover what entities satisfy certain macroscopic properties that were part of the stereotypes of the concepts odourless and so on. Therefore, they are committed to the idea that concepts such as odourless have stereotypes in terms of macrophysical properties. And if they do not want to say this about this particular concept, then they should maintain that at some point in the series of stereotypes of stereotypical features, we can reach the level of macrophysics. 7 PTI would provide information about the relation of that sample and rivers and lakes under a microphysical description, which would not help much, because then we have the same problem: how can we know that these objects, microphysically described, are rivers or lakes? 13

14 The problem is, of course, that this is not part of the stereotypical approach of concepts. And the theory of concepts that Chalmers and Jackson seem to favour is the stereotypical one, although later they require a stronger version for their argument to work. To see that the approach the offer evidence for is the stereotypical approach, we can rely on the examples they use: they propose that the application conditional for water is something like (1), where the antecedent is about the stereotypical features of water. Another example they use is the concept knowledge : they argue it is possible to infer a priori facts about knowledge from certain descriptions of situations in terms of the beliefs of a subject (and whether they are true or false, and how they are justified). But in this example, the conditional goes from facts about beliefs, truth and justification to facts about knowledge. Both the antecedent and the consequent are about facts located at the same level, so to speak: they are about psychological features of the subject. Chalmers and Jackson do not offer any example of a concept that we associate with lower-level properties (in virtue of the possession of the concept), but this is what is required in order to justify the a priori passage from PTI to any ordinary macroscopic truth, such as water is wet. Therefore, the conditional PTI M is not a priori, assuming the stereotypical view of concepts. This is a serious problem for Chalmers and Jackson, for two reasons. First, as we have seen, they seem to rely on that view on concepts, and therefore, if the view is not strong enough to support the claim that for every possessor of the relevant concepts, there is an a priori application conditional PTI M, then their argument is unsound. Secondly, if it is not possible to infer a priori ordinary macroscopic truths from PTI, then the claim that phenomenal truths must be entailed a priori by PTI is unjustified. Nonetheless, what Chalmers and Jackson want to show is that PQTI M is a priori, for every possessor of the concepts involved in M (and the rest of relevant concepts). I think that this entailment can be a priori for possessors of the relevant concepts, assuming that in order to possess a concept you must know its stereotype. For example, if something like (1) must be known a priori in order to possess the concept water, then it seems right to think that we can infer facts about water from PQTI. In this case, we would get more information from the macroscopic description: we could know what the macroscopic objects look like. And arguably, stereotypical features of most ordinary concepts are about perceptual features of their referents. The problem is that these considerations, which favour the view that PQTI M could be a priori, also 14

15 support the view that PTI M cannot be a priori, because the phenomenal information included in Q plays a crucial role in the a priori entailment. Therefore, the stereotypical view of concepts gives reasons to believe that we cannot infer facts about ordinary concepts from descriptions deprived of phenomenal information. Finally, I would like to evaluate to what extent the theoretical approach can support the claims of the apriority of PTI M and PQTI M. According to this approach, in order to possess the concept water we must associate it with the correct theory about water. Then, we can discover the causal role of the concept water within the theory, and in that way, we can infer facts about water from facts about macrophysics because we can discover what entities in the macrophysical description satisfy the causal role of water. Arguably, it is possible to infer a priori ordinary macroscopic truths from truths about macrophysics, assuming this strong view on the conditions of concept-possession. 8 Anyway, I will not discuss this issue here, because I think that this option faces more fundamental problems. First, of course, there are problems concerning the correctness of this view on concepts. According to it, subjects who do not know the right theory for every concept, such that it would enable them to discover the causal role of the concept and infer facts about these concepts from facts about lower-level descriptions, do not possess the concept. The consequence of this is that we do not really possess many concepts that we usually assume we do possess (because we attribute to other thinkers and to ourselves thoughts that are constituted by these concepts, for example when I think that S thinks that water is wet). According to the theoretical approach, we do not possess competently concepts such as life digestion, heart, gene, storm, and so on, if we are not experts in biology or meteorology. This consequence seems unpalatable. Maybe Chalmers and Jackson would reply that our ordinary concepts and the concepts used in those scientific disciplines are different, so that we do possess the ordinary versions of the concepts, but the concepts that are necessary to be possessed in order to be able to perform the entailment from macrophysics to ordinary truths are the correspondent scientific versions. This seems awkward, because if the propositions that are inferred from microphysics are the ordinary macroscopic propositions, then their constituents should be the ordinary concepts, not the scientific ones. 8 Arguably, both claims PQTI M and PTI M would be a priori, for competent possessors of the relevant concepts, according to the theoretical approach. 15

16 The main problem with Chalmers and Jackson s argument is that the only view according to which a priori entailment from microphysics (plus TI) to ordinary macroscopic truths is possible, is the theoretical approach, but they do not give arguments for it in their paper. It is not explicit in their argumentation, even if, as I have tried to show, it is crucial for the a priori entailment to work. And, of course, the approach in itself is very controversial, so the thesis of a priori entailment from microphysics to truths about water, life, etc, will not be justified until compelling arguments for the theoretical approach are offered (if this were possible). 5. Conclusions. The main aim of Chalmers and Jackson (2001) is to show that if phenomenal truths are not a priori entailed by microphysics (plus a that s all clause and indexical information), then physicalism is false. 9 I have tried to show that they should justify it by showing that many other truths are so entailed, but they do not accomplish this task in their paper. The only way in which it is possible to maintain that microphysical truths entail a priori ordinary macroscopic truths is to hold a theoretical approach, but it is too strong and there are no reasons to endorse it. Furthermore, I think that if physicalism is defined under the assumption of the theoretical view on concepts, then it should be characterised as follows: physicalism is true if and only if experts in the correct scientific theories about macroscopic properties are able to infer facts about these macroscopic properties from PTI. This could be a useful definition of physicalism, but this is not the definition that Chalmers (1996) is using when he argues that phenomenal consciousness makes physicalism false. For he argues that ordinary thinkers are not able to infer facts about phenomenal properties from physical descriptions of the world. But according to this new definition of physicalism, the interesting test for physicalism is to assess whether experts in the relevant theory could infer facts about the phenomenal from PTI. Chalmers thought experiments about zombies (physical duplicates of human beings without phenomenal consciousness) are not a good test, because they rely on our ordinary phenomenal 9 They also argue that the failure of a priori entailment implies that phenomenal properties cannot be reductively explained, but the question of reductive explanation involves complex issues about the epistemic element of explanation, which lie beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore, I have focused on the metaphysical claim about physicalism. 16

17 concepts. They do not involve any theoretical knowledge about the structure of our conscious experience. And, on other hand, it is very hard to perform the right tests, because scientists do not possess a complete theory about consciousness. So we cannot know yet whether it is possible to infer phenomenal truths from microphysics, under the conditions in which it is really possible to infer macroscopic truths from microphysics, namely, under the theoretical approach. 10 Therefore, no compelling reasons have been offered to believe that consciousness falsifies physicalism. 10 Maybe Chalmers could argue that the theories that we must know in order to be experts about phenomenal concepts are not scientific theories, but our ordinary commonsensical phenomenal concepts are sufficient. This seems to draw an unjustified distinction between the phenomenal realm and the rest of nature, above all in a context where the topic that is being discussed is precisely whether there is such a distinction or not. Hence, to assume that would beg the question. 17

18 References: -Block, N. and Stalnaker, R. (1999) Conceptual Analysis, Dualism and the Explanatory Gap, Philosophical Review 108, Chalmers, D. (1996) The Conscious Mind, New York: Oxford University Press. -Chalmers, D. and Jackson, F. (2001) Conceptual Analysis and Reductive Explanation, Philosophical Review 110, Jackson, F. (1982) Epiphenomenal Qualia Philosophical Quarterly 32, Jackson, F. (1995) Postscript to What Mary Didn t Know in Moser, P. K. and Trout, J.D. (eds.) (1995) Contemporary Materialism: A Reader, London: Routledge, Jackson, F. (1998a) Reference and Description Revisited, Philosophical Perspectives, 12, Jackson, F. (1998b) From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis, Oxford: Oxford University Press. -Laurence, S. and Margolis, E. (forthcoming) Concepts and Conceptual Analysis, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 18

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