2.9 Physicalism

Category: Philosophy of Mind

Keywords: physicalism, dualism, sellars, physical, datum, materialism, minds, smart, mental, data, brain, physically, body, mind, broad

Number of Articles: 401
Percentage of Total: 1.2%
Rank: 31st

Weighted Number of Articles: 425.8
Percentage of Total: 1.3%
Rank: 20th

Mean Publication Year: 1954.7
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1957
Median Publication Year: 1953
Modal Publication Year: 1922

Topic with Most Overlap: Perception (0.0459)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Perception (0.0377)
Topic with Least Overlap: Crime and Punishment (0.00027)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Formal Epistemology (4e-04)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the physicalismtopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1922 when 5.3% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1887 when 0.3% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.9 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.29: Physicalism.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Physicalismtopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 1.6%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.7%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 1.5%. Analysis - 1.2%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.1%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.9%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.6%. Philosophy of Science - 1.3%. Noûs - 0.8%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.0%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.1%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1934 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 4.8% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1887 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.3% of the articles.

Figure 2.30: Physicalism articles in each journal.

Table 2.26: Characteristic articles of the physicalism topic.
Table 2.27: Highly cited articles in the physicalism topic.


I really didn’t expect this. I sort of thought that physicalism, in the way it was discussed by contemporary writers, was quite distinct from what early twentieth-century writers were talking about. And I thought that even if that weren’t true, the terminological changes—using language like “supervenience” and “physicalism” that I thought was not common in the early twentieth century—would have been enough to get the model to split up Stoljar and Montero from Stebbing and Trumbull Ladd. But the model thinks that they fit together, and I can sort of see its point of view. The mind-body problem is one of the oldest and most venerable problems around. Actually, since I’m discussing Stoljar, I should at this point acknowledge his good point that it is a class of problems not a problem, and missing this point leads one to seriously misstate the history of work in this field (Stoljar 2017). It was a big deal in nineteenth-century philosophy, it is a big deal in twenty-first-century philosophy, and, apparently, it was an even bigger deal in philosophy in the 1920s and 1930s.

The only thing that disappoints me about the model’s result here is that it put almost none of Samuel Alexander’s work in this topic. I’d have thought the preeminent emergentist of the early twentieth century would play an important role in debates about physicalism, but the model disagreed, and I’m not entirely sure why it did so.