Minimal materialism is one of the forms of materialist theory currently popular in philosophy of Mind. It differs from other materialist theories (such as type materialism and functionalism) in that it only asserts that the physical world is where everything starts and ends, to put it rather informally, whereas other theories attempt to explain how physical properties determine mental properties. Formally, it looks like this:

  1. Any two systems exactly alike in all physical respects cannot differ in any mental respects. (Mind-Body Supervenience Principle)
  2. There are no purely mental creatures. (Anti-Cartesian Principle)
  3. The mental properties of a system are purely defined by its physical properties. (Mind-Body Dependence Principle)

The second and third principles are necessary because the first neither rules out the possibility of purely mental creatures, nor does it give ontological priority to the physical world so much as simply state a correlation. As could be expected of a theory that calls itself minimal materialism, this theory is consistent with more or less all other forms of materialism, and serves as somewhat of a baseline materialist standpoint.

A common argument against minimal materialism is the Zombie Argument.

See also: Philosophy of Mind, type materialism, functionalism, identity theory.

All material taken from whatever I managed to absorb from my Philosophy of Mind class at the University of Rochester during Fall 2003.

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