Cover Image

Causal Closure of Physics and the Formulation of Physicalism

Dejan R. Dimitrijević

DOI Number
First page
Last page


Physicalism is an ontological doctrine according to which everything in the world is physical in the last instance. This is usually interpreted as a claim that every non-physical, most notably every mental property can either be reduced to some physical property or shown to supervene on it. The main obstacle in an attempt to formulate physicalism properly is Hempel’s dilemma, and the most promising strategy of taking this dilemma is based on the argument from causal closure of physics. After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, I argue that it is highly controversial and thus unable to support a strong ontological commitment.



Fizikalizam je ontološka doktrina prema kojoj je sve na svetu u poslednjoj instanci fizičko. Ovo se obično interpretira kao tvrdnja da se svako nefizičko, a posebno mentalno svojstvo može redukovati na neko fizičko svojstvo, ili se može pokazati da na njemu supervenira. Glavna prepreka pokušajima da se fizikalizam adekvatno formuliše je Hempelova dilema, a strategija suočavanja sa ovom dilemom, koja najviše obećava, bazirana je na argumentu uzročne zatvorenosti fizike. Nakon analize dobrih i loših strana ovog pristupa, zaključujem da je on jako kontroverzan i da samim tim nije u stanju da podrži snažnu ontološku tezu.




  • Physicalism is an ontological thesis according to which everything in the world is physical. Hempel’s dilemma makes it hard to formulate.
  • The argument from causal closure of physics is the most promising physicalist strategy against Hempel’s dilemma.
  • An elaboration of the argument from causal closure of physics based on the fundamental conservation laws and forces is presented.
  • A thorough analysis of this approach indicates that it is highly controversial and unable to support physicalist thesis.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 0354-4656 (print)

ISSN 2406-0879 (online)