Russellian monism

Very closely tied to physics proper (according to Alter and Pereboom). Note the sad and surprising fact that physicalism is not closely tied to physics, e.g. Stoljar’s assertion that you don’t need to know jack about physics to talk confidently about physicalism.

2. Key Readings, Annotated

2.1 Alter and Pereboom (2019) Stanford Encyclopedia article on Russelian Monism. PDF.

They largely follow Pereboom 2015 by going after a dichotomy of {extrinsic + relatively intrinsic properties} versus {absolutely intrinsic} properties, and saying that consciouness must be an absolutely intrinsic property, while physics only ever talks about extrinsic and relatively intrinsic properties. This last is called structuralism about physics. That would explain the absence in physics of a theory of consciousness.

  • “Russellian monism can be seen as combining three core theses: structuralism about physics, which states that physics describes the world only in terms of its spatiotemporal structure and dynamics; realism about quiddities, which states that there are quiddities, that is, properties that underlie the structure and dynamics physics describes; and quidditism about consciousness, which states that quiddities are relevant to consciousness.”
  • “P is a relatively intrinsic property of X just in case P is an intrinsic property of X and P is grounded in extrinsic properties of either X or parts of X. By contrast, P is an absolutely intrinsic property of X just in case P is an intrinsic property of X and P is not grounded in extrinsic properties of either X or parts of X.”
  • “The only aspects of mass that physical theory describes are relatively, not absolutely, intrinsic…. physical theory characterizes its basic entities partly in terms of its intrinsic properties, as long as those intrinsic properties are relatively and not absolutely intrinsic.”
  • “The second core Russellian monist thesis, realism about quiddities, states that there are (instantiated) properties of precisely the sort about which, according to structuralism about physics, physical theory is silent: properties that underlie the spatiotemporal structure physical theory describes. Those properties categorically ground the most basic physical dispositions that physics describes, in the way a ball’s spherical shape categorically grounds its disposition to roll when pushed. These underlying properties are often called quiddities
  • “While all Russellian monists maintain that quiddities are relevant to consciousness (section 1.1), some construe quiddities themselves as phenomenal properties. The result is a variety of Russellian monism known as Russellian panpsychism.”
  • “Russellian panpsychists typically do not construe quiddities as macrophenomenal properties, that is, as familiar phenomenal properties such as those commonly associated with feeling pain and seeing red. More often, Russellian panpsychists construe quiddities as microphenomenal properties, that is, as phenomenal properties of microphysical entities.”
  • “Russellian monism is a distinctive theory in the metaphysics of mind. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify varieties that correspond to more traditional theories, including physicalism, idealism, neutral monism, and (despite the name) even dualism.”
  • Section 2.1 about the history of Russellian monism is EXCELLENT and should be read in full esp. on Liebniz and Kant.
    • Kant: “In material objects we discover only extrinsic properties and relatively intrinsic properties, never any properties that are absolutely intrinsic. Indeed, for Kant, matter itself does not have absolutely intrinsic properties. That is because he regards matter as “mere appearance”. Thus, he writes, “what it [matter] itself consists in is the mere relation of something in general to the senses” (1781/1787: A285/B341). If matter were instead a “thing-in-itself”, he implies, then it would need to have absolutely intrinsic properties. Nevertheless, in his view all features of appearance, including both matter and macrophenomenal consciousness, are grounded in things-in-themselves (or a thing-in-itself) and thus in absolutely intrinsic properties—a position that suggests both realism about quiddities and quidditism about consciousness.”
  • lkj

2. Subtypes

2.1 Russellian Panpsychism (mostly Chalmers)

Alter and Pereboom (2019) Stanford Encyclopedia article on Russelian Monism. PDF.

  • “One might wonder why a posteriori physicalism does not qualify as Russellian physicalism. Chalmers recognizes this problem. He therefore makes two further stipulations designed to help distinguish Russellian physicalism from traditional physicalist theories:…(i) protophenomenal properties are distinct from structural properties and (ii) there is an a priori entailment from truths about protophenomenal properties (perhaps along with structural properties) to truths about the phenomenal properties that they constitute. (Chalmers 2013 [2015: 260])”