Philosophy Department Talk: "The Nominalist Limit of Physicalism", by Francesco Maria Ferrari

Abstract: Physicalism is the thesis that all that there is are concrete particulars, i.e., bits of matter with their causal (physical) properties, or alternatively that everything else supervenes on them. Accordingly to this view, Physicalism gathers together three main assumptions: first, the peculiar monist thesis that the natural realm coincides with the material; second, that is peculiar to all Substance Metaphysics, that all entities are substances, namely fundamental, independent, and non-relational; and third, a posit of non-dualism, usually labeled as the "supervenience claim", that all that is over and above (first-order) particulars with their respective properties does not add anything to the original ontology. This paper is primarily devoted to arguing that the interplay between the first and the second assumptions leads to a tension with the third one about the supposed existential import of the theory. The tension is, then, exacerbated by the fact that, as many authors argued, the supervenience claim fails to discharge the metaphysical burden of emergent (higher-order) properties. Thus Dr. Ferrari wonders, how can Physicalism alternatively pursue the nominalist attitude towards higher-order commitment? To this aim, he examines whether the Nominalist’s semantic strategy in formal ontology  succeeds where supervenience fails. Unfortunately, he argues, the Nominalist’s strategy meets specific and unavoidable inconsistencies which, therefore, are inherited by Physicalism. 

About: Dr. Francesco Ferrari is currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at Lehigh University, under the supervision of Prof. Mark Bickhard. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Logic, Epistemology and History of Science (CLE) at the State University of Campinas (Brazil), working under the supervision of Prof. Marco Ruffino on a project investigating the foundations of ontology, especially within the process-relational framework, and issues on formalization. His research focuses on the notion of emergence and its compatibility with naturalism, and on the philosophy of category theory. He received his Ph.D in Philosophy of Language and Logic by the University of Padua.

End Date: 
Monday, May 2, 2022 - 19:30