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Profile: David Robb (Davidson College)
  1. David Robb, Could Mental Causation Be Invisible?
    E.J. Lowe has recently proposed a model of mental causation on which mental events are emergent, thus exerting a novel, downward causal influence on physical events. Yet on Lowe's model, mental causation is at the same time empirically undetectable, and in this sense is "invisible". Lowe's model is ingenious, but I don't think emergentists should welcome it, for it seems to me that a primary virtue of emergentism is its bold empirical prediction about the long-term results of human physiology. Here (...)
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  2. David Robb (forthcoming). Power for the Mental as Such. In Jonathan D. Jacobs (ed.), Putting Powers to Work: Causal Powers in Contemporary Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    An adequate solution to the problem of mental causation should deliver, not just the efficacy of mental properties, but the efficacy of mental properties as such, of mentality in its own right. But this appears to block an identity solution from the outset. Any property that’s both mental and physical, the argument goes, has a dual nature, and this just reintroduces the problem of mental causation, now framed in terms of these two natures. But a powers ontology promises to save (...)
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  3. David Robb (2013). The Identity Theory as a Solution to the Exclusion Problem. In S. C. Gibb, E. J. Lowe & R. D. Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press.
    This is about a proposed solution to the exclusion problem, one I've defended elsewhere (for example, in "The Properties of Mental Causation"). Details aside, it's just the identity theory: mental properties face no threat of exclusion from, or preemption by, physical properties, because every mental property is a physical property. Here I elaborate on this solution and defend it from some objections. One of my goals is to place it in the context of a more general ontology of properties, in (...)
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  4. David Robb (2009). Substance. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge.
     
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  5. David Robb (2008). Review of Jens Harbecke, Mental Causation: Investigating the Mind's Powers in a Natural World. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (9).
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  6. David Robb (2008). Zombies From Below. In Simone Gozzano Francesco Orilia (ed.), Tropes, Universals, and the Philosophy of Mind: Essays at the Boundary of Ontology and Philosophical Psychology. Ontos Verlag.
    A zombie is a creature just like a conscious being in certain respects, but wholly lacking in consciousness. In this paper, I look at zombies from the perspective of basic ontology (“from below”), taking as my starting point a trope ontology I have defended elsewhere. The consequences of this ontology for zombies are mixed. Viewed from below, one sort of zombie—the exact dispositional zombie—is impossible. A similar argument can be wielded against another sort—the exact physical zombie—but here supplementary principles are (...)
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  7. David Robb & John Heil, Mental Causation. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Worries about mental causation are prominent in contemporary discussions of the mind and human agency. Originally, the problem of mental causation was that of understanding how a mental substance (thought to be immaterial) could interact with a material substance, a body. Most philosophers nowadays repudiate immaterial minds, but the problem of mental causation has not gone away. Instead, focus has shifted to mental properties. How could mental properties be causally relevant to bodily behavior? How could something mental qua mental cause (...)
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  8. David Robb (2007). Power Essentialism. Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):343-58.
    Press a square paperweight into a lump of soft clay. What results is a square impression. Could a circular impression have resulted instead? The answer seems to be No. In this paper, I take this and similar examples as evidence for power essentialism, the thesis that the powers bestowed by a property are essential to it. I spend most of the paper trying to answer a few arguments against the evidential value of such examples: (1) there is the appearance of (...)
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  9. David Robb (2006). Review of G. W. Fitch, Saul Kripke and Christopher Hughes, Kripke. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 47:165-8.
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  10. David Robb (2005). Qualitative Unity and the Bundle Theory. The Monist 88 (4):466-92.
    This paper is an articulation and defense of a trope-bundle theory of material objects. After some background remarks about objects and tropes, I start the main defense in Section III by answering a charge frequently made against the bundle theory, namely that it commits a conceptual error by saying that properties are parts of objects. I argue that there’s a general and intuitive sense of “part” in which properties are in fact parts of objects. This leads to the question of (...)
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  11. John Heil & David Robb (2003). Mental Properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):175-196.
    It is becoming increasingly clear that the deepest problems currently exercising philosophers of mind arise from an ill-begotten ontology, in particular, a mistaken ontology of properties. After going through some preliminaries, we identify three doctrines at the heart of this mistaken ontology: (P) For each distinct predicate, “F”, there exists one, and only one, property, F, such that, if “F” is applicable to an object a, then “F” is applicable in virtue of a’s being F. (U) Properties are universals, not (...)
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  12. Alfred R. Mele & David Robb (2003). Bbs, Magnets and Seesaws: The Metaphysics of Frankfurt-Style Cases. In David Widerker & Michael McKenna (eds.), Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities: Essays on the Importance of Alternative Possibilities. Ashgate. 107--126.
  13. Timothy O'Connor & David Robb (eds.) (2003). Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings. Routledge.
    Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings is a comprehensive anthology that draws together leading philosophers writing on the major topics within philosophy of mind. Robb and O'Connor have carefully chosen articles under the following headings: *Substance Dualism and Idealism *Materialism *Mind and Representation *Consciousness Each section is prefaced by an introductory essay by the editors which guides the student gently into the topic in which leading philosophers are included. The book is highly accessible and user-friendly and provides a broad-ranging exploration of (...)
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  14. David Robb (2003). Causation and Persistence: A Theory of Causation by Douglas Ehring. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 112 (3):131-4.
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  15. David Robb (2003). Dualism. In Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 1. Nature Publishing Group.
  16. David Robb (2003). Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 1. Nature Publishing Group.
  17. David Robb (2001). George MacDonald and the Sacramental Imagination. The Chesterton Review 27 (1/2).
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  18. David Robb (2001). Imaginative but Intimately True. The Chesterton Review 27 (1):67-83.
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  19. David Robb (2001). Reply to Noordhof on Mental Causation. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (202):90-94.
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  20. David Robb (1999). Is Causal Necessity Part of the Mind-Independent World? Philosophical Topics 26 (1&2):305-20.
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  21. David Robb (1999). The Churchlands and Their Critics Robert N. McCauley, Editor Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996. [REVIEW] Dialogue 38 (01):165-8.
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  22. David Robb (1999). The Churchlands and Their Critics. Dialogue 38 (1):165-167.
     
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  23. Alfred R. Mele & David Robb (1998). Rescuing Frankfurt-Style Cases. Philosophical Review 107 (1):97-112.
    Almost thirty years ago, in an attempt to undermine what he termed "the principle of alternate possibilities" (the thesis that people are morally responsible for what they have done only if they could have done otherwise), Harry Frankfurt offered an ingenious thought-experiment that has played a major role in subsequent work on moral responsibility and free will. Several philosophers, including David Widerker and Robert Kane, argued recently that this thought-experiment and others like it are fundamentally flawed. This paper develops a (...)
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  24. David Robb (1998). Review: Recent Work in the Philosophy of Mind. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 48 (193):527 - 539.
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  25. David Robb (1998). Recent Work in the Philosophy of Mind. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 48 (193):527–539.
    This is a critical review of six books: Peter Carruthers, _Language, Thought, and Consciousness; David Chalmers, _The Conscious Mind; Fred Dretske, _Naturalizing the Mind; Steven Horst, _Symbols, Computation and Intentionality; Jaegwon Kim, _Philosophy of Mind; and Michael Tye, _Ten Problems of Consciousness. The review focuses on what these authors have to say about consciousness.
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  26. David Robb (1997). The Properties of Mental Causation. Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):178-94.
    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 (...)
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