This paper describes a version of type identity physicalism, which we call Flat Physicalism, and shows how it meets several objections often raised against identity theories. This identity theory is informed by recent results in the conceptual foundations of physics, and in particular clarifies the notion of ‘physical kinds' in light of a conceptual analysis of the paradigmatic case of reducing thermodynamics to statistical mechanics. We show how Flat Physicalism is compatible with the appearance of multiple realisation in the special sciences, and how and in what sense the special sciences laws are autonomous from the laws of physics, despite the full reductive picture of Flat Physicalism. We compare our view with a recent proposal by William Bechtel that accounts for the appearance of levels in mechanistic explanations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the helpful discussions with the participants of the workshop on The Multi‐Level Structure of Reality at the Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies, May 2018. The research towards this paper was supported by grants 1148/18 and 690/21 of the Israeli Science Foundation.
© 2022 The Authors. Theoria published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Stiftelsen Theoria.
- identity theory
- multiple realisation (realisability)
- physical kinds
- special sciences
- statistical mechanics