Abstract: This paper investigates whether there is an acceptable version of Functionalism that avoids commitment to second-order properties. I argue that the answer is “no”. I consider two reductionist versions of Functionalism, and argue that both are compatible with multiple realization as such. There is a more specific type of multiple realization that poses difficulties for these views, however. The only apparent Functionalist solution is to accept second-order properties.
Abstract: This paper concerns reductionist views about psychology and the special sciences more generally. I identify a metaphysical assumption in reductionist views which I dub the ‘Micro-Macro Mirroring Thesis’. The Mirroring Thesis says that the relation between the entities of any legitimate higher-level science and their lower-level realizers is similar to that between the entities of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. I argue that reductionism implies the Thesis, and that the Thesis is not a priori. It is more difficult to tell whether the Thesis is true, and I indicate some relevant considerations.
Critical Study of Timothy O'Connor, Persons and Causes
Medium-length version of a big project (July 2010).
Abstract: This paper suggests a nonstandard interpretation of the main argument for reductionism about special science properties, which I call the “No New Powers Argument”. The argument rests on a principle of ontological simplicity, roughly that there are no causally redundant entities. It holds that second-order properties “bring no new powers into the world”, so they would be causally redundant, and so do not exist (or are “unnatural” epiphenomena). I argue that the standard nonreductionist response to this argument amounts to a denial of the relevant simplicity principle: there are no causally redundant entities, except for ones that are metaphysically necessitated by physical matters. The dualist has an analogous response: there are no redundant entities, except for ones nomologically necessitated by physical matters. So, the standard response gives up on simplicity arguments against dualism. I offer an alternative response by attempting to spell out the idea that natural properties are “causal/nomic joint carvers”. This account has the consequence that second-order causes and effects are alike natural or not; they come together as a package deal. So, second-order properties can “bring new powers into the world” -- they bring powers to cause other second-order properties, which powers would not otherwise exist. The existence and naturalness of second-order properties is perfectly compatible with the relevant sort of ontological simplicity. I suggest, but do not argue in detail here, that this response allows the nonreductionist to maintain a simplicity argument against dualism.