To me Physicalism seems to miss some aspects of animals, such as that their behavior may not be entirely physically explained.

How does Physicalism treat "non-physical" things such as ethics?

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    It's impossible to cover everyone, but many physicalists are also consequentialists and view happiness and/or suffering as measurable things we can maximize/minimize. In other words, these thinkers don't take ethics to be non-physical. Similarly, feelings of right and wrong are understood sociobiologically by some accounts. – virmaior Dec 26 '16 at 13:49
  • @virmaior see The Evolution of Morality by Richard Joyce for a moral anti-realist take on the sociobiology of morality. Presumably a physicalist would have no problem taking such a stance. – Lothrop Stoddard Dec 26 '16 at 18:39

They do not need to deny non-physical things. They could hold that these seemingly non-physical things are epiphenomenal and actually supervene on the physical.


Presumably a physicalist would be skeptical of any non-naturalist metaethical programme, so they would be either a metaethical naturalist or a metaethical anti-realist (either error theorist, subjectivist, or non-cognitivist). But since all forms of moral realism seem in some respect to rely on a variety of intuition, presumably the physicalist could rule out said faculty of intuition as being one from which knowledge could be attained, implying a wholesale rejection of abstract objects and non-natural properties. But this is not necessary. While there is a correlation between physicalism and non-(non-naturalism), one can have their cake and eat it too here if one supposed, though a metaethical non-naturalist would presumably reject metaphilosophical naturalism, allowing in such views as property dualism and mathematical platonism (which can in some conceptions of naturalized epistemology still be accommodated).

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