Two results of the PhilPapers Survey:

Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?
Accept or lean toward: Platonism 366 / 931 (39.3%)
Accept or lean toward: nominalism 351 / 931 (37.7%)
Other 214 / 931 (23.0%)

Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?
Accept or lean toward: physicalism 526 / 931 (56.5%)
Accept or lean toward: non-physicalism 252 / 931 (27.1%)
Other 153 / 931 (16.4%)

Why is the support for Platonism of abstract objects (I assume that entails mathematical Platonism) far higher than support for non-physicalism? Doesn't Platonism entail non-physicalism? Is there an explanation for this result?

2 Answers 2


I consider both questions refer to different domains.

The question about the existence of abstract objects refers to ontology: Which different types of objects exist?

The question referring to the mind asks for an approach to solve the mind-body problem. Hence the question belongs to cognitive science or neuroscience.

E.g., the question "In which sense do ideas exist?" refers to abstract objects. A representative of Platonism must not necessarily support non-physicalism concerning the mind-body problem.

  • I've always seen physicalism as an ontological position, namely the thesis that only the physical exists.
    – R. Neville
    Dec 14, 2015 at 14:20

You can be a physicalist and a non-reductive property dualist, so you think we can't reduce the mind to a sort of neutral monistic substance, but there's still one fundamental substance just with the potential for different modes, mind being one such mode. So you can take that view while thinking mathematical objects or propositions exist (outside of spacetime, or as platonist abstract objects). Not that I would recommend such a set of views.

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