Semifactuals and epiphenomenalism

Acta Analytica 16 (26):23-43 (2001)
Semifactuals and Epiphenomenalism Mental properties are said to be epiphenomenal because they do not pass the counterfactual test of causal relevance. Jacob (1996) adopts the defence of causal efficacy of mental properties developed by LePore and Loewer (1987). They claim that those who argue for the epiphenomenalism of the mental place too strong a requirement on causal relevance, which excludes causally efficacious properties. Given a proper analysis of causal relevance, the causal efficacy of mental properties is saved. I defend the counterfactual test and epiphenomenalism of the mental against this critique. In causal counterfactuals we hold everything the same, take out the causal property and see if the effect property occurs. We do not replace the causal property with a barely different property as presupposed by LePore and Loewer. But I recognize some general problems in making counterfactual claims about mental events, which raise doubts about the usefulness of the counterfactual test in general.
Keywords Causation  Counterfactual  Epiphenomenalism  Mental  Metaphysics  Jacob, P
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