Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things. According to physicalism, the language of physics is the universal language of science and, consequently, any knowledge can be brought back to statements on the physical objects. In contemporary philosophy, physicalism is most frequently associated with the mind-body problem where it holds that all that has been ascribed to “mind” is more correctly ascribed to “brain” or the activity of the brain.
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. Pragmatism is based on the premise that the human capability to theorize is necessary for intelligent practice. Theory and practice are not separate spheres; rather, theories and distinctions are tools or maps for finding our way in the world. Pragmatism holds that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected.
Postmodern Philosophy is a philosophical direction that is critical of the foundational assumptions and structures of philosophy. Postmodern philosophy is skeptical or nihilistic toward many of the values and assumptions of philosophy that derive from modernity, such as humanity having an essence that distinguishes humans from animals, or the assumption that one form of government is demonstrably better than another. It is usually associated with the following philosophical trends: nihilism and relativism, neo-marxism, neo-pragmatism, and neo-existentialism.
Positivism is a philosophy of science based on the view that in the social as well as natural sciences, data derived from sensory experience, and logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the exclusive source of all authentic knowledge. Obtaining and verifying data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence. Society operates according to laws like the physical world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected.
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.
Naturalism is the philosophical viewpoint that natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond this natural universe, or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know. Followers of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the universe, that the universe is a product of these laws, and that the goal of science is to discover and publish them systematically. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no “purpose” in nature.
Moral Relativism describes the way things are, without suggesting a way they ought to be. It seeks only to point out that people frequently disagree over what is the most moral course of action. Moral Relativism holds the position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people. The moral relativist might say, “It’s moral to me, because I believe it is.” Moral Relativism holds that because there is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others, even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards.
The mind-body problem arises because mental phenomena arguably differ, qualitatively or substantially, from the physical body on which they apparently depend. There are a few major theories on the resolution of the problem. Dualism is the theory that the mind and body are two distinct substances, and monism is the theory that they are, in reality, just one substance. Monist materialists/physicalists take the view that they are both matter, and monist idealists take the view that they are both in the mind. The absence of an empirically identifiable meeting point between the non-physical mind and its physical extension has proven problematic to dualism and many modern philosophers maintain that the mind is not something separate from the body.
Materialism is the theory that the only thing that exists is matter or energy; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter. To many philosophers, materialism is synonymous with physicalism. However, materialists have historically held that everything is made of matter, but physics has shown that gravity, for example, is not made of matter in the traditional sense so physicalism is used to emphasize a connection to physics and the physical sciences.
Is-Ought Problem as articulated by Scottish philosopher David Hume, is that many writers make claims about what ought to be on the basis of statements about what is. However, Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between descriptive statements (about what is) and prescriptive or normative statements (about what ought to be), and it is not obvious how we can get from making descriptive statements to prescriptive.