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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 113, Issue 10, October 2016

Peter Godfrey-Smith
Pages 481-506
DOI: 10.5840/jphil20161131034

Mind, Matter, and Metabolism

I discuss the bearing on the mind-body problem of some general characteristics of living systems, including the physical basis of metabolism and the relation between living activity and cognitive capacities in simple organisms. I then attempt to describe stages in the history of animal life important to the evolution of subjective experience. Features of the biological basis of cognition are used to criticize arguments against materialism that draw on the conceivability of a separation between mental and physical. I also argue against commonly held views about the "multiple realizability" of mental states of the kind seen in humans. The aim of the paper is to reconfigure and narrow the "explanatory gap" between mental and physical.

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