Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):110-127 (2001)
|Abstract||James decides that the best price today on pork chops is at Supermarket S, then James makes driving motions for twenty minutes, then James’ car enters the parking lot at Supermarket S. Common sense supposes that the stages in this sequence may be causally connected, and that the pattern is commonplace: James’ belief (together with his desire for pork chops) causes bodily behavior, and the behavior causes a change in James’ whereabouts. Anyone committed to the idea that beliefs and desires are states installed by evolution must, it seems, think something similar. For how can one see beliefs and desires as conferring selective advantage if not by supposing that, by causing bodily behavior in their subjects, they brought about changes in their subjects’ surroundings? Yet many, many philosophers currently think or worry that mental causation is illusory (see, e.g., Heil and Mele 1993, or Macdonald and Macdonald 1995). Any physical changes which a mental state appears to cause can be viewed as a complex event involving microparticles, and for any such complex event, many philosophers suppose, there will have been previous microphysical occurrences sufficient to cause it. Barring routine overdetermination of such complex events, the apparent causation of mental events seems to be excluded. Nor does it help to say that some salient segment of the previous microphysical event just is the mental event, differently described (Davidson 1970). For describing the previous events as microphysical seems to spotlight the very features in virtue of which they did their causal work; the mental features seem epiphenomenal (Yablo 1992b: pp. 425-36; Yablo 1992a). This paper argues that the complex physical events, which mental events seem excluded from causing, are not caused at all. For they are either accidents, in something like Aristotle’s sense (Sorabji 1980: pp. 3-25), or coincidences, in a sense which David Owens has recently sharpened (Owens 1992).|
|Keywords||Causation Epistemology Mental Physical Owens, D|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Similar books and articles
Markus E. Schlosser (2009). Non-Reductive Physicalism, Mental Causation and the Nature of Actions. In H. Leitgeb & A. Hieke (eds.), Reduction: Between the Mind and the Brain. Ontos.
David Papineau (2013). Causation is Macroscopic but Not Irreducible. In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press.
David Robb (1997). The Properties of Mental Causation. Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):178-94.
Janez Bregant (2004). Van Gulick's Solution of the Exclusion Problem Revisited. Acta Analytica 19 (33):83-94.
Tyler Burge (1993). Mind-Body Causation and Explanatory Practice. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
John Gibbons (2006). Mental Causation Without Downward Causation. Philosophical Review 115 (1):79-103.
Thomas Kroedel (2008). Mental Causation as Multiple Causation. Philosophical Studies 139 (1):125-143.
Stephen Yablo (1992). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Brandon Carey (2010). Overdetermination And The Exclusion Problem. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):251 - 262.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads41 ( #32,645 of 722,813 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #25,982 of 722,813 )
How can I increase my downloads?