David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Kenneth S. Kendler & Josef Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology, and Nosology. Johns Hopkins University Press (2008)
I want to explore one small corner of the concept of mental causality. It’s the corner where discussions about mind-body interactions and epiphenomenalism take place. My basic contention is that these discussions are framed in the wrong terms because they are infected by a mind-body dualism which defines the question of mental causality in a classic or standard way: How does a mental event cause my body to do what it does? Setting the question in this way has consequences for ongoing interdisciplinary (psychological, neuroscientific, and philosophical) discussions of mental causation, as well as free will, and for our understanding of what we mean by a sense of agency for action. These concepts, in turn, have much to do with our understanding of what goes wrong in certain instances of psychopathology. I’ll try to get to this issue in the final part of my paper. Let me first set the historical scene of what I am calling this standard way of understanding the problem of mental causality.
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