This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Hempel's Dilemma and the Via Negativa
Hempel's dilemma concerns how we define the physical. If you define the physical in terms of current physics, then anything that is not a part of present physics becomes non-physical. If one the other hand, if future physics is needed to give an account of the physical, then future physics might include anything, including God, and calling something physical doesn't exclude anything, and so it doesn't mean anything.
One might object that any formulation of physicalism which utilizes the theory-based conception will be either trivial or false. Carl Hempel (cf. Hempel 1969, see also Crane and Mellor 1990) provided a classic formulation of this problem: if physicalism is defined via reference to contemporary physics, then it is false — after all, who thinks that contemporary physics is complete? — but if physicalism is defined via reference to a future or ideal physics, then it is trivial — after all, who can predict what a future physics contains? Perhaps, for example, it contains even mental items. The conclusion of the dilemma is that one has no clear concept of a physical property, or at least no concept that is clear enough to do the job that philosophers of mind want the physical to play. http://plato.stanford.edu/entr...
Attempt to solve this problem usually say that a physical property is a property that, at the most basic level, is not mental. If, at the basic level, the mental is there, then it's not physical.