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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 20, 1995

Andrew Melnyk
Pages 221-235

Physicalism, Ordinary Objects, and Identity

Any philosopher sympathetic to physicaIism (or materiaIism) will allow that there is some sense in which ordinary objects---tables and chairs, etc.---are physicaI. But what sense, exactly? John Post holds a view implying that every ordinary object is identical with some or other spatio-temporal sum of fundamental entities. I begin by deploying a modal argument intended to show that ordinary objects, for example elephants, are not identical with spatio-temporal sums of such entities. Then I claim that appeal to David Lewis’s counterpart theory, even if acceptable in principle, would not permit Post to make a plausible reply to this argument. Finally, I sketch an alternative account of ordinary objects, which does not require identity with spatio-temporal sums of fundamental physical entities, and argue that, despite Post’s protestations, this account is acceptably physicalist: his identity claims are not required for physicalism.

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