Multiple-choice test on physicalism

Consider the following argument:

1.  Eve’s believing that p is realized by having a token of p in her head.
2.  Having a token of p in one’s head is realized by some detailed, neural state. 
3.  Eve’s believing that p is realized by some detailed neural state.

What’s wrong with this argument?

a.  absolutely nothing
b.  it equivocates on “is realized by” or the concept of realization.
c.  it presupposes that “is realized by” is transitive, and that’s not so clearly true.
d.  either or both of its premises are false.
e.  who is “Eve” anyway?

Not only are you encouraged to pick one (or at least one) answer and
defend it, but you are also invited to use such choices as a diagnosis
for which Philosophy Department such choosers belong in.  Have fun!


  1. anna-mari

    In Helsinki the story would go like this:

    1. “Eve’s believing that p”

    a) How do you formalize that in epistemic logic?
    b) Is her belief _rational_?
    c) What do you mean by “rationality” in the first place?
    d) Does this Eve has something to do with this “Sally”, who was going to shop with John, even though “John loves Mary”?

    Who cares about Eve, who is _”Sally”_?



  2. Ken

    a. Absolutely nothing.

    Since this is probably a boring position, I should probably be at some small liberal arts college in the south.

    I would be interested in hearing some challenges to the idea that realization is transitive.

    Incidently, Carl Gillett has a very nice paper, I think, setting out different notions of realization in the literature. It is a reply to a forthcoming AJP paper by Tom Polger.

  3. a or d.

    It depends what one means by realization. I would want the premise to read ‘is identical with’ rather than ‘is realized by’, if these amount to the same thing under ones anaylsis of realization, then a. If one has some other notion, possibly d.

  4. If eliminative materialism is false, then a.

    Otherwise, d.

    Digestion in Eve is realized by her digestive system.
    Her digestive system is realized by a bunch of enzymes, proteins, and other molecular biological details.

    all the way down to superstrings.

    I think the more interesting question is what is the relevant realization base for our purposes (which can be clinical, explanatory, or we might just be hungry and want to know if we should eat Eve’s digestive system (if I digest dark matter, then I don’t want a human’s digestive system to eat)).

  5. Carl Gillett

    Hi Rob, do we get the answers now?

    (I must apologize for missing the exam, but my dog ate my grandmother and I had to attend the funerals of both).

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