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Intro rewrite and (temporary?) chart removal[edit]

I rewrote the intro since, though it was good, it did not seem to capture the core ideas in the supervenience literature, which I have been wading through for some time now. Also, I removed the chart, for reasons similar to those cited below. In fact, realization itself has developed into something of a literature, and its relation to supervenience is hotly debated. However, I do like the chart and think it should be re-introduced in a subsection, perhaps on mental causation. At any rate, I hope my changes will be improved upon, and apologize for any mistakes or abuses of wiki convention (I still consider myself a wiki neophyte). Jyoshimi 05:12, 16 December 2006 (UTC)


That chart doesn't show supervenience, it shows one physical property that realizes a mental property causing another physical property that realizes a mental property. Sure, realization is one way of getting supervenience, but it's certainly not the only way. And there's nothing in supervenience that has low-level properties causing each other. Just think of supervenience in meta-ethics. --GodRousingDogPipes 06:46, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

The caption of the current chart says the chart shows a relationship between "A" and "B", but "A" and "B" do not appear in the chart. (talk) 02:08, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Mental Properties[edit]

the examples of mental supervenience given are:

   * If two people, X and Y, are identical with regards to their physical properties, they must also be identical in their mental properties.
   * If two people, X and Y, are identical with regards to their mental properties, they must also be identical in their physical properties.

However, only the first example is consistent with the definition of supervenience given: when X supervenes on Y, identical Y necessitates identical X. It does NOT follow that identical X necessitates identical Y (e.g. a chessboard made of wood is identical to one made of marble for the purposes of someone only interested in the rules of chess, but a wooden chessboard and a wooden non-chessboard MUST be different at the level of woodwork in addition to being different at the chess rule level). The second example needs to be removed, or an explanation for this inconsistent usage needs to be given. (snaxalotl)


"An atom-by-atom replication of a person will have the same mental characteristics as the original."

An atom-by-atom replication of a person couldn't ever be exact. They would necessarily occupy different positions in space and time, and have variant perspectives (however slight).

That's not the point. Even though it's physically impossible to have exact replication, /in principle/ an exact replication would, by supervenience, result in exact mental replication. Also, it might be true that slight differece will produce a different mental instance, but this doesn't follow from the definition of supervenience and is irrelevant here. (snaxalotl)

About value[edit]

I don't understand what is meant by organism in the sentence:

"The value of a physical object to an organism is sometimes held to be supervenient upon the physical properties of the object."

Should it be replaced by agent? Is that any better?

That's sounds like better wording to me. I've changed it. — Trilobite (Talk) 22:38, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

The review of Physics continues at Talk:Physics/wip[edit]

Some time ago a group of editors set up a "work in progress" page (at Talk:Physics/wip) to hammer out a consensus for the Physics article, which for too long had been in an unstable state. Discussion of the lead for the article has taken a great deal of time and thousands of words. The definitional and philosophical foundations seem to cause most headaches, along with the status of the special sciences and their supervenience on physics, or their reduction to physics. Progress has been made. Why not review some of the proposals for the lead material that people are putting forward, or put forward your own, or simply join the discussion? The more contributors the better, for a consensus. – Noetica 02:07, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Update: Concrete proposals have now been put forward, arising from recent discussion aimed at producing a stable and consensual lead section for the Physics article. We have set up a straw poll, for comments on the proposals. Why not drop in at Talk:Physics/wip, and have your say? The more the better! – Noetica 22:28, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Missing bracket in FOL statement[edit]

Under "Definitions", the second formal FOL statement has three opening parentheses, and only two closing ones. Is this is a mistake? Jameshfisher 22:48, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes. Fixed it. Thanks. Jyoshimi (talk) 07:12, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

FOL definition not well-formed[edit]

In the first formal definition the first two universal quantifiers are limited in scope to the antecedent only, while the variables that are bound to them appear in the consequent. This doesn't seem to me to be well-formed.

There should only be one parenthesis after the iff in the antecedent and there should be no parenthesis that start off the consequent.

are my assessments accurate?

I went ahead and made the modification.

Kmddmk (talk) 23:55, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Suggestion for section on Supervenience in Philosophy of Physics.[edit]

I was going to test the waters if people thought a part in the article on arguments about Supervenience and implications for reductive accounts of physical world with specific examples of quantum theory was a good idea. I am new to wikipedia but feel this is an important part of understanding how supervenience is important beyond simple considerations in the philosophy of mind.

Leave me a comment if you think it will be a good idea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Daniel jones (talkcontribs) 08:19, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree it's a good idea; supervenience is used in many areas of philosophy. If it's done I think it should make reference to some existing source or discussion. A quick google turned this up, for example: Jyoshimi (talk) 19:09, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Sheesh. How about rewriting the intro at least in language that is accessible to a lay reader?[edit]

I'm not dumb by any means, but your use of language is so specialized, I have no idea what this means. You might as well be writing in Russian. I just wanted to get a sense of the word before going back to reading something else that used the word. This is a general encyclopedia.

Translate, please Grumpily. Eperotao (talk) 18:16, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

The whole entry suffers from being indecipherable by any non-expert. 03:18, 25 August 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildspell (talkcontribs)

I am partly to blame for the intro paragraph. Previously the entry was inaccurate in some ways, so I tried to fix the problems. However I myself am steeped in the literature, so ended up writing something too technical perhaps, though others helped make it better. Anyway I agree it should begin with something more accessible. Perhaps something like "Supervenience is a technical concept that philosophers use to describe dependencies between various kinds of thing. For example, the properties of the mind are widely thought to depend on the properties of the brain. So we have a supervenience relation. " Or something, maybe making reference to that diagram with the hierarchy from social levels down to elementary particles. Then the next paragraph could read "Supervenience is a complex topic, and is described using a whole constellation of philosophical concepts..." Or something like that. I'm not sure. I won't have time to make the changes but certainly hope someone tries to do so. Similarly for the rest of the article. Jyoshimi (talk) 19:07, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
It seems a bad idea to put an example into the first paragraph of the lede, the language needs to be simplified instead for that. If there is a referenced example it can go the lede as a separate second/third paragraph. This would make it far more readable. It is preferably to have a referenced example rather than WP:OR. Cheers. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:55, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

< (talk) 00:27, 23 September 2011 (UTC)Mike>-> I agree; I have a PHD and I cant follow this without grinding my neck. "To give a somewhat simplified example, if psychological properties supervene on physical properties... (complex axample ensues)"

Define: "simplified".

How about this: All dogs bark, but not all that barks is a dog. Dogs supervene on barking, but barking does not supervent on dogs. (If I have this upside down, its because the idea wasnt explained). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:21, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Jyoshimi, I agree you've captured the literary style well :) That's not really a bad thing if it's further along in the article, where I doubt it could be avoided. The topic does get complicated quickly and those subtle details are considered important, if not light reading. The approach you suggest sounds like the way to go… a lede introducing the topic and touching lightly on what's covered in the rest of article. The reader can click the links (e.g., multiple realizability) or skip ahead. An adequate stand-alone summary that's nonetheless accessible, is probably too much to hope for. Wrong way around or no, I'm not quite sure if 24's example captures how the notion is applied, though people do bark from time to time. Believe it or not, “C-fibers” are actually a very common example.—Machine Elf 1735 17:50, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm moving this to the top since it's been active since I last checked (does anyone know how to make wikipedia email me when comments appear here?) Anyway, I'm going to try a new lead paragraph. Others please edit etc. One quick note on C-fibers, is that they are a classic example in the mind-brain identity literature (it was Smart's example I think). Since multiple-realization and supervenience were supposed to counter the identity theory, it makes the example a bit misleading. Then again, strictly speaking, supervenience does still apply in that case. Jyoshimi (talk) 19:01, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Actually, don't move it to the top. New messages always appear at the bottom of WP talk pages.—Machine Elf 1735 23:40, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
Got it, thanks. Jyoshimi (talk) 00:06, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

I found the intro to be exceptionally well-written and comprehensible. Granted, I have a doctorate in psychology, but I should hasten to add, I've taken only one philosophy course in my entire education. Mark D Worthen PsyD 15:41, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree, and my background is self-taught engineering. I Am going to go ahead and delete the tag at the top of the article. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:48, 3 February 2015 (UTC)


we definetly need sources for the two definitions. the stanford encyclopedia article seems to rely solely on the indiscernible-definition. plus i have to admit that i do not quite get the other definition (which should be horrible with respect to the lay reader, i do have a B.A. in philosophy)-- (talk) 17:23, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Here are some references. Probably closest is my own paper, not surprisingly, but I'm not sure about citing myself here [1]. Horgan uses the definition you didn't like (and I agree it's hard to follow) [2]. Kim focuses more on the first indiscernibility def. Also he's kind of canonical [3] It's hard to find a direct reference to the definitions given here. The literature mostly focuses on the stuff discussed in the varieties section. There aren't many efforts to pull out the generic definitions, that abstract away from all the details of strong vs. weak, local vs. global. Also I made the indiscernibility relation explicit with higher order quantifiers. So I don't think this formulation exists anywhere exactly as stated. At any rate, suggestions on how to fold this in welcome. Jyoshimi (talk) 23:19, 8 September 2015 (UTC)