Negroni, Silvia (2013) La Sopravvenienza del mentale sul fisico: riflessioni sul problema mente-corpo e il ruolo delle proprietà mentali. Doctoral Thesis.
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My work is on the mind-body problem and the notion of supervenience, according to which mental properties supervene on physical properties, that is there cannot be a change in a mental property without any change occurring in some physical property.
The work gives an overview of those few philosophers who gave a contribution to the understanding of supervenience, in particular D. Davidson, J. Kim, H. Putnam and S. White.
Davidson supported a “weak” form of supervenience, according to which the relation between the mental characteristics supervening on the physical ones does not ontologically hold in all possible worlds. A part of the work is devoted to the illustration of this view, highlighting its major weaknesses in the wake of Kim’s criticism.
Then comes an analysis of Kim’s thought and is “strong” version of supervenience based on a “functional reduction”, according to which supervenient properties are causally efficacious if and only if they are functionally reducible to properties antecedently accepted as causally efficacious.
Of the many assessments of Kim's view I found interesting the one given by Putnam. Therefore, a chapter is devoted to the examination of Putnam’s criticism of Kim and Putnam's notion of “global supervenience”, according to which human capabilities supervene on the states of the physical universe.
The dissertation ends with an illustration of White’s view on the question, which seems to draw a plausible moral from the entire discussion on supervenience.
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