David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Noûs 40 (2):256-83 (2006)
The recent literature on mental causation has not been kind to nonreductive, materialist functionalism (‘functionalism’, hereafter, except where that term is otherwise qualified). The exclusion problem2 has done much of the damage, but the epiphenomenalist threat has taken other forms. Functionalism also faces what I will call the ‘problem of metaphysically necessary effects’ (Block, 1990, pp. 157-60, Antony and Levine, 1997, pp. 91-92, Pereboom, 2002, p. 515, Millikan, 1999, p. 47, Jackson, 1998, pp. 660-61). Functionalist mental properties are individuated partly by their relation to the very effects those properties’ instantiations are thought to cause. Consequently, functionalist causal generalizations would seem to have the following problematical structure: The state of being, among other things, a cause of e (under such-andsuch conditions) causes e (under those conditions).3 The connection asserted lacks the contingency one would expect of a causal generalization. Mental states of the kind in question are, by metaphysical necessity, causes of e; any state that does not cause e is thereby a different kind of state. Yet, a mental state’s being the sort of state it is must play some causal role if functionalism is to account for mental causation.4 In what follows, I first articulate more fully the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I then criticize three functionalist attempts to solve the problem directly. Given the failure of functionalist efforts to meet the problem head-on, I consider less direct strategies: these involve formulating functionalism or its causal claims in such a way that they appear not to generate the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I argue against these indirect solutions, in each case concluding either that the problem still arises or that avoiding it requires the adoption of an unorthodox form of functionalism (itself a surprising result). In the final..
|Keywords||Causality Ceteris Paribus Functionalism Metaphysics Probability Regularity|
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References found in this work BETA
Louise M. Antony & Joseph Levine (1997). Reduction with Autonomy. Philosophical Perspectives 11 (s11):83-105.
Ned Block (2008). Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back. Noûs 31 (s11):107-132.
Ned Block (1989). Can the Mind Change the World? In George S. Boolos (ed.), Meaning and Method: Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press. 137--170.
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David Braddon-Mitchell & K. Jackson (1999). The Divide-and-Conquer Path to Analytic Functionalism. Philosophical Topics 26 (1-2):71-89.
Citations of this work BETA
Gualtiero Piccinini (2010). The Mind as Neural Software? Understanding Functionalism, Computationalism, and Computational Functionalism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):269-311.
Mark Bauer (2010). Psychological Laws (Revisited). Erkenntnis 73 (1):41 - 53.
Gabriel M. A. Segal (2009). The Causal Inefficacy of Content. Mind and Language 24 (1):80-102.
Jens Harbecke (2011). Mind in a Humean World. Metaphysica 12 (2):213-229.
Martin Roth (2013). Folk Psychology as Science. Synthese 190 (17):3971-3982.
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