Is the Mentaculus the Best System of Our World?

Meir Hemmo, Orly Shenker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Barry Loewer and David Albert put forward a theory that they call “The Mentaculus”, which they claim to be “arguably a complete scientific theory of the universe”. Albert and Loewer’s Mentaculus is an expanded version of statistical mechanics. On their view – as recently updated by Loewer’s “Package Deal Approach” – The Mentaculus is the “best system” of our world in the Lewis-style sense of this term: it contains a partial description of the fundamental reality (“The Humean base”) and provides the optimal balance between informativeness and simplicity. The Mentaculus has other advantages, in particular, it is reductionist in the sense that it unifies all the sciences, and it is physicalist in the sense that the account of everything is ultimately based on physics. In this paper we examine the extent to which The Mentaculus is reductionist and physicalist. We compare it with “Flat Physicalism”, which is our version of expanded statistical mechanics, that is a reductive type-type physicalist identity theory of everything that there is. The Mentaculus is less reductionist than Flat Physicalism: both theories assume the fundamental microdynamics and suitable contingent facts, but The Mentaculus assumes the Past Hypothesis and a Statistical Postulate, as independent laws, whereas Flat Physicalism derives them from the microdynamics and the contingent facts. Additionally, Flat Physicalism derives from the latter all the special sciences kinds and laws, while The Mentaculus does not contain any explanatory account of such reduction. Therefore Flat Physicalism is arguably “better” than The Mentaculus in the “best system” sense of the term.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking the Concept of Law of Nature
Subtitle of host publicationNatural Order in the Light of Contemporary Science
EditorsYemima Ben-Menahem
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-96775-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-96774-1
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2022


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