The properties of mental causation

Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):178-94 (1997)
Recent discussions of mental causation have focused on three principles: (1) Mental properties are (sometimes) causally relevant to physical effects; (2) mental properties are not physical properties; (3) every physical event has in its causal history only physical events and physical properties. Since these principles seem to be inconsistent, solutions have focused on rejecting one or more of them. But I argue that, in spite of appearances, (1)–(3) are not inconsistent. The reason is that 'properties' is used in different senses in the principles. In (1) and (3), 'properties' should be read as 'tropes' (properties here are particulars), while in (2) 'properties' should read as 'types' (properties here are universals or classes). Although mental types are distinct from physical types, every mental trope is a physical trope. This allows mental properties to be causally relevant to physical effects without violating the closed character of the physical world.
Keywords Causation  Epiphenomenalism  Epistemology  Mental  Property
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9213.00054
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Stephen Yablo (1992). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.

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