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Pragmatism and pluralism: How to avoid becoming a physicalist.

Ritchie, John Miller (2002) Pragmatism and pluralism: How to avoid becoming a physicalist. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis can be split into two sections. The first section is an argument against physicalism and its naturalistic pretensions. The second section presents an alternative to physicalism - pragmatic pluralism. The arguments for the first section are split into four chapters. In chapter one it is argued that an examination of science lends no support to physicalist ontology. The case of quantum chemistry is studied in some detail and its shown that higher-level chemical facts are needed to support the quantum mechanical explanations given. The second and third chapters look at various ways in which physicalist have sought to explain away the apparent lack of unity in the sciences. Various accounts of the supervenience relation and functionalism are discussed and shown to be either inadequate for the physicalist programme or empirically implausible. The final chapter of this section discusses the so called completeness of physics. It is shown that like physicalism in general, there is no way to formulate this doctrine to make it plausible in light of contemporary physics and able to underpin a physicalist ontology. The second section critically discusses alternatives to physicalism. The scientific pluralisms of John Dupre and Nancy Cartwright and the pragmatic pluralisms of Hilary Putnam and Nelson Goodman are discussed in detail. Drawing on the work of Putnam, in particular, and presenting Davidson's anomalous monism in a new guise, an original form of pragmatic or metaphysically deflationary pluralism is defended.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science, Physics, Quantum
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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