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.
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- identity theory
- multiple realisation (realisability)
- physical kinds
- special sciences
- statistical mechanics