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In this book, Derk Pereboom explores how physicalism might best be formulated and defended against the best anti-physicalist arguments. Two responses to the knowledge and conceivability arguments are set out and developed. The first exploits the open possibility that introspective representations fail to represent mental properties as they are in themselves; specifically, that introspection represents phenomenal properties as having certain characteristic qualitative natures, which these properties might actually lack. The second response draws on the proposal that currently unknown fundamental intrinsic properties provide categorical bases for known physical properties and would also yield an account of consciousness. While there are non-physicalist versions of this position, some are amenable to physicalism. The book's third theme is a defense of a nonreductive account of physicalism. The type of nonreductivism endorsed departs from others in that it rejects all token identity claims for psychological and microphysical entities. The deepest relation between the mental and the microphysical is constitution, where this relation is not to be explicated by the notion of identity.
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Derk Pereboom is Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University
"Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism is an ambitious, often subtle,
approach to the contemporary debate over the status of physicalism. It merits careful
attention, and will have to be grappled with both by those who contend that physicalism
is false as well as those who think that any physicalism has to be of a reductive variety. It
advances the debate in a compelling and original way, and will be of interest to anyone
working on the issues that Pereboom discusses."--Kevin Morris, Philosophy in Review
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