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Physicalism Is Actually a Good Friend of Virtue Ethics: A Discussion with Li Yitian

China Social Science Review

No.3, 2020

 

Physicalism Is Actually a Good Friend of Virtue Ethics: A Discussion with Li Yitian

(Abstract)

 

Xu Yingjin

 

Physicalism is simply a body of thought that holds that all things existing in the world are, in the last analysis, “physical.” However, physicalism only implies that the supervenience thesis is true; it does not imply that reductionism is true. Rather, when the concept of “multiple realizability” is further introduced, physicalism based on the concept of supervenience allows highlevel mental vocabulary a certain degree of irreducibility. Therefore, there is absolutely no need to worry that the introduction of physicalism will threaten the autonomy of virtue ethics, with its close relationship to the mind. Cognitive psychology research that is compatible with physicalism can provide richer empirical details for many specific theories of contemporary virtue ethics (although these particulars only provide a sort of explanation and do not replace the item explained), thus making the relationship between philosophy and the empirical sciences more cordial.