Realization: Metaphysical and Scientific Perspectives

Robert A. Wilson, Carl F. Craver

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter discusses the concept of realization that has been important for understanding the relation of minds to their possible physical instantiations in brains and computers. The concept of realization has been slotted into a particular network of technical concepts, such as supervenience, metaphysical sufficiency, and economic necessity. The metaphysician of mind uses conceptual analysis as a way of exploring entailments and tensions among positions that one might adopt using those concepts. The idea of realization is at the heart of a number of debates in contemporary metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. It is also central to the explanatory and investigative practices of cognitive scientists. Scientists have also tried to identify a series of issues that remain contentious and that invite further discussion. Some of these discussions concern what properties the relation of realization has, or what constraints it should be subject to - is it decompositional, intrinsic, or synchronic in nature? While other discussions focus more directly on the interplay between abstract philosophy concerns and explanatory practice in cognitive neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780444515407
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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