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Summary Anomalous Monism is a philosophical theory about the mind-body relationship, developed by Donald Davidson. The theory has two components. One is the claim that the domain of mental events is anomalous, meaning that mentalistic descriptions of events, unlike physicalistic ones, are not subsumable under strict, exceptionless laws. The other claim is that, nevertheless, mental events are identical to physical events. The resulting view is a form of predicate dualism combined with event monism, therefore, at least according to Davidson, a form of nonreductive physicalism, as it rejects the viability of type-type reductions, but asserts a monistic (physical) ontology. Davidson's argument for the view is that it resolves the apparent incompatibility of three plausible seeming claim: (1) the fact that there are both mental-to-physical causal relations and physical-to-mental ones, (2) the anomalousness of the mental, and (3) the nomological character of causality (i.e. that causal relations involve strict laws). Under mentalistic descriptions, mental events are anomalous, but under physicalistic ones, they are not; hence propositions (1) to (3) are no really incompatible, if Anomalous Monism is adopted. The main criticism levelled against the view is that it is not really physicalistic, in that it is in fact a form of aspect- or property-dualism. Another popular criticism asserts that Davidson's view actually renders mental events causally impotent, as causation is a relation among properties or aspects of events rather among events understood as primitive particulars.
Key works The theory is first formulated in Davidson 1970, reprinted in his Davidson 1980. Kim has dedicated several works to criticising the view along the lines explained above, for example in Kim 1989, Kim 1993, and Kim 1993. Davidson offers an answer to these worries in Davidson 1992. The literature on Anomalous Monism is considerable; collections of key papers are LePore & McLaughlin 1985 and Heil & Mele 1993.
Introductions Gluer 2011, Lepore & Ludwig 2013
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  1. Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa (2012). What is Russellian Monism? Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):9-10.
    Russellian monism offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between the physical and the phenomenal. For example, on one version of the view, phenomenal properties are the categorical bases of fundamental physical properties, such as mass and charge, which are dispositional. Russellian monism has prominent supporters, such as Bertrand Russell, Grover Maxwell, Michael Lockwood, and David Chalmers. But its strengths and shortcomings are often misunderstood. In this paper we try to eliminate confusions about the view and defend it from criticisms. (...)
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  2. Louise M. Antony (1994). The Inadequacy of Anomalous Monism as a Realist Theory of Mind. In Gerhard Preyer, F. Siebelt & A. Ulfig (eds.), Language, Mind, and Epistemology: On Donald Davidson's Philosophy. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
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  3. Louise M. Antony (1989). Anomalous Monism and the Problem of Explanatory Force. Philosophical Review 98 (April):153-87.
    Concern about two problems runs through the work of davidson: the problem of accounting for the "explanatory force" of rational explanations, and the problem posed for materialism by the apparent anomalousness of psychological events. davidson believes that his view of mental causation, imbedded in his theory of "anomalous monism," can provide satisfactory answers to both questions. however, it is argued in this paper that davidson's program contains a fundamental inconsistency; that his metaphysics, while grounding the doctrine of anomalous monism, makes (...)
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  4. Michael V. Antony (2003). Davidson's Argument for Monism. Synthese 135 (1):1-12.
    Two criticisms of Davidson's argument for monism are presented. The first is that there is no obvious way for the anomalism of the mental to do any work in his argument. Certain implicit premises, on the other hand, entail monism independently of the anomalism of the mental, but they are question-begging. The second criticism is that even if Davidson's argument is sound, the variety of monism that emerges is extremely weak at best. I show that by constructing ontologically ``hybrid'' events (...)
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  5. Pierfrancesco Basile (2005). Whitehead's Ontology and Davidson's Anomalous Monism. Process Studies 34 (1):3-9.
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  6. Hagit Benbaji (2005). The Nomological Principle and the Argument for Anomalous Monism. Iyyun 54 (January):90-108.
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  7. John Bickle (1992). Mental Anomaly and the New Mind-Brain Reductionism. Philosophy of Science 59 (2):217-30.
    Davidson's principle of the anomalousness of the mental was instrumental in discrediting once-popular versions of mind-brain reductionism. In this essay I argue that a novel account of intertheoretic reduction, which does not require the sort of cross-theoretic bridge laws that Davidson's principle rules out, allows a version of mind-brain reductionism which is immune from Davidson's challenge. In the final section, I address a second worry about reductionism, also based on Davidson's principle, that survives this response. I argue that new reductionists (...)
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  8. Peter Bieri (1993). Mental Concepts: Causal Because Anomalous. In Ralf Stoecker (ed.), Reflecting Davidson. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
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  9. Johannes L. Brandl (ed.) (1989). The Mind of Donald Davidson. Netherlands: Rodopi.
    WHAT IS PRESENT TO THE MIND? Donald DAVIDSON The University of California at Berkeley There is a sense in which anything we think about is, ...
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  10. David Brooks (1980). The Impossibility of Psycho-Physical Laws. Philosophical Papers 9 (October):21-45.
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  11. Stuart C. Brown (ed.) (1974). Philosophy Of Psychology. London,: Macmillan.
  12. H. G. Callaway & Paul Gochet (2007). Quine's Physicalism. In Filosofia, Scienza e Bioetica nel dibattito contemperano, Studi internazionali in onore di Evandro Agazzi, pp. 1105-1115.
    In this paper we briefly examine and evaluate Quine’s physicalism. On the supposition, in accordance with Quine’s views, that there can be no change of any sort without a physical change, we argue that this point leaves plenty of room to understand and accept a limited autonomy of the special sciences and of other domains of disciplinary and common-sense inquiry and discourse. The argument depends on distinguishing specific, detailed programs of reduction from the general Quinean strategy of reduction by explication. (...)
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  13. Neil Campbell, Anomalous Monism.
    identity theory , usually attributed to J.J.C. Smart (Smart, 1959) and U.T. Place (Place, 1956), claimed that kinds of mental states are identical to kinds of brain states. Sensations of pain, for instance, were said to be identical to the firing of C-fibres or some such type of neurological state. According to this view, then, pain, conceived as a _kind_ of mental state, is said to be _reduced_ to a certain kind of neurological state. The reduction envisaged here was modelled (...)
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  14. Neil Campbell (2003). Causes and Causal Explanations: Davidson and His Critics. Philosophia 31 (1-2):149-157.
  15. Neil Campbell (1998). Anomalous Monism and the Charge of Epiphenomenalism. Dialectica 52 (1):23-39.
  16. Neil Campbell (1997). The Standard Objection to Anomalous Monism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (3):373-82.
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  17. Kam-Yuen Cheng (1997). Davidson's Action Theory and Epiphenomenalism. Journal of Philosophical Research 22 (April):81-95.
  18. William Child (1993). Anomalism, Uncodifiability, and Psychophysical Relations. Philosophical Review 102 (2):215-245.
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  19. W. E. Cooper (1980). Materialism and Madness. Philosophical Papers 9 (May):36-40.
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  20. Steven G. Daniel (1999). Why Even Kim-Style Psychophysical Laws Are Impossible. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (3):225-237.
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  21. Donald Davidson (1999). The Emergence of Thought. Erkenntnis 51 (1):511-21.
    A phenomenon “emerges” when a concept is instantiated for the first time: hence emergence is relative to a set of concepts. Propositional thought and language emerge together. It is proposed that the degree of complexity of an object language relative to a given metalanguage can be gauged by the number of ways it can be translated into that metalanguage: in analogy with other forms of measurement, the more ways the object language can be translated into the metalanguage, the less powerful (...)
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  22. Donald Davidson (1995). Laws and Cause. Dialectica 49 (2-4):263-79.
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  23. Donald Davidson (1993). Reply to Peter Bieri's Mental Concepts: Causal Because Anomalous. In Ralf Stoecker (ed.), Reflecting Davidson. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
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  24. Donald Davidson (1992). Thinking Causes. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press. 1993--3.
  25. Donald Davidson (1987). Problems in the Explanation of Action. In Philip Pettit, Richard Sylvan & J. Norman (eds.), Metaphysics and Morality. Blackwell.
  26. Donald Davidson (1980). Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford University Press.
  27. Donald Davidson (1974). Psychology as Philosophy. In S. Brown (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology. Harper & Row.
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  28. Donald Davidson (1973). The Material Mind. In Patrick Suppes (ed.), Logic, Methodology and the Philosophy of Science. North-Holland.
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  29. Donald Davidson (1970). Mental Events. In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Humanities Press. 79-101.
  30. M. de Pinedo (2006). Anomalous Monism: Oscillating Between Dogmas. Synthese 148 (1):79-97.
    Davidson’s anomalous monism, his argument for the identity between mental and physical event tokens, has been frequently attacked, usually demanding a higher degree of physicalist commitment. My objection runs in the opposite direction: the identities inferred by Davidson from mental causation, the nomological character of causality and the anomaly of the mental are philosophically problematic and, more dramatically, incompatible with his famous argument against the third dogma of empiricism, the separation of content from conceptual scheme. Given the anomaly of the (...)
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  31. Dalia Drai (1994). What is a Physical Event? Philosophical Papers 23 (2):129-135.
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  32. Luiz Henrique de A. Dutra (2010). Propositional Attitudes, Intentionality, and Lawful Behaviors. Principia 7 (1-2):93-114.
    This paper aims to discuss Quine’s last analysis of propositional attitudes as involving intentionality and as regards human action and the very sub-ject matter of social sciences. As to this problem, Quine acquiesces in both Davidson’s anomalous monism and Dennett’s intentional stance. An al-ternative analysis is here presented, which is based on Howard Rachlin’s teleological behaviorism. Some problems regarding this approach are also considered. Intentionality and rationality are still to be saved, but they are construed according to a lawful perspective (...)
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  33. Catherine Z. Elgin (1980). Indeterminacy, Underdetermination and the Anomalous Monism. Synthese 45:233-55.
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  34. L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.) (1970). Experience and Theory. Humanities Press.
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  35. Brian J. Garrett (1999). Davidson on Causal Relevance. Ratio 12 (1):14-33.
    Davidson argues that mental properties are causally relevant properties. I argue that Davidson cannot appeal to ceteris paribus causal laws to ensure that these properties are causally relevant, if he wishes to retain his argument for anomalous monism. Second, I argue that the appeal to supervenience cannot, by itself, give us an account of the causal relevancy of mental properties. I argue that, while mental properties may indeed 'make a difference' to the causally efficacious properties of events, this is not (...)
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  36. Sophie Gibb (2006). Why Davidson is Not a Property Epiphenomenalist. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (3):407 – 422.
    Despite the fact that Davidson's theory of the causal relata is crucial to his response to the problem of mental causation - that of anomalous monism - it is commonly overlooked within discussions of his position. Anomalous monism is accused of entailing property epiphenomenalism, but given Davidson's understanding of the causal relata, such accusations are wholly misguided. There are, I suggest, two different forms of property epiphenomenalism. The first understands the term 'property' in an ontological sense, the second in a (...)
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  37. Steven Yalowitz Glaister (1998). Semantic Determinants and Psychology as a Science. Erkenntnis 49 (1):57-91.
    One central but unrecognized strand of the complex debate between W. V. Quine and Donald Davidson over the status of psychology as a science turns on their disagreement concerning the compatibility of strict psychophysical, semantic-determining laws with the possibility of error. That disagreement in turn underlies their opposing views on the location of semantic determinants: proximal (on bodily surfaces) or distal (in the external world). This paper articulates these two disputes, their wider context, and argues that both are fundamentally misconceived. (...)
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  38. Walter Glannon (1997). Semicompatibilism and Anomalous Monism. Philosophical Papers 26 (3):211-231.
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  39. G. C. Goddu (1999). Is Anomalous Monism Inconsistent After All? Philosophia 27 (3-4):509-519.
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  40. Rew A. Godow (1979). Davidson and the Anomalism of the Mental. Southern Journal of Philosophy 17 (2):163-174.
    In two of his more recent papers, Donald davidson has argued for the "a priori" truth of what he calls "the principle of the anomalism of the mental." my concern in this paper is with examining that principle and davidson's defense of it. After clarifying the principle, I discuss three considerations which davidson gives in its defense and argue that they are not persuasive. Then I argue that although the principle of the anomalism of the mental cannot be known "a (...)
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  41. Bruce Goldberg (1977). A Problem with Anomalous Monism. Philosophical Studies 32 (August):175-80.
    Davidson's argument equivocates on the term "physical": the physical events that mental events cause might not be subsumed under laws.
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  42. Nancy Hancock Slonneger (2001). Anomalous Monism and Physical Closure. Journal of Philosophical Research 26 (January):175-185.
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  43. Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (1992). Mental Events Again--Or What is Wrong with Anomalous Monism? Erkenntnis 36 (3):345-373.
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  44. John Heil (2002). Mental Causation. In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. 29--52.
    This volume presents a collection of new, specially written essays by a diverse group of philosophers, including Donald Davidson, Ted Honderich, and Philip Pettit, each of whom is widely known for defending a particular conception of minds and their place in nature.
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  45. G. L. Herstein (2005). Davidson on the Impossibility of Psychophysical Laws. Synthese 145 (1):45-63.
    Donald Davidsons classic argument for the impossibility of reducing mental events to physicallistic ones is analyzed and formalized in relational logic. This makes evident the scope of Davidsons argument, and shows that he is essentially offering a negative transcendental argument, i.e., and argument to the impossibility of certain kinds of logical relations. Some final speculations are offered as to why such a move might, nevertheless, have a measure of plausibility.
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  46. Peter H. Hess (1981). Actions, Reasons and Humean Causes. Analysis 41 (March):77-81.
  47. Ted Honderich (1984). Donald Davidson's Anomalous Monism and the Champion of Mauve. Analysis 44.
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  48. Ted Honderich (1984). Smith and the Champion of Mauve. Analysis 44 (2):86-89.
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  49. Ted Honderich (1983). Anomalous Monism: Reply to Smith. Analysis 43 (June):147-149.
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  50. Ted Honderich (1982). The Argument for Anomalous Monism. Analysis 42 (January):59-64.
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