The idea of a higher level phenomenon having a downward causal influence on a lower level process or entity has taken a variety of forms. In order to discuss the relation between emergence and downwardcausation, the specific variety of the thesis of downwardcausation (DC) must be identified. Based on some ontological theses about inter-level relations, types of causation and the possibility of reduction, three versions of DC are distinguished. Of these, the `Strong' (...) form of DC is held to be in conflict with contemporary science; the `Medium' version of DC may for instance describe thoughts constraining neurophysiological states, while the `Weak' form of DC is physically acceptable but may not in practice be a feasible description of the mind/brain or the cell/molecule relation. All forms have their specific problems, but the Medium and the Weak version seems to be most promising. (shrink)
Weak emergence has been offered as an explication of the ubiquitous notion of emergence used in complexity science (Bedau 1997). After outlining the problem of emergence and comparing weak emergence with the two other main objectivist approaches to emergence, this paper explains a version of weak emergence and illustrates it with cellular automata. Then it explains the sort of downwardcausation and explanatory autonomy involved in weak emergence.
to counterintuitive results. Suppose a mental event, m1, causes another mental event, m2. Unless the mental and the physical are completely independent, there will be a physical event in your brain or your body or the physical world as a whole that underlies this event. The mental event occurs at least partly in virtue of the physical event’s occurring. And the same goes for m2  and p2. Let’s not worry about what exactly “underlying” or “in virtue of” means here. (...) Here’s the picture. m1 -----> m2 | | p1 -----> p2 The horizontal arrows represent causation, and the vertical lines represent underlying, whatever that may be. There’s some reason to think that the only way m1 can bring about m2 is by bringing about p2. You can’t convince someone of something through mental telepathy. You need to interact with the physical world, perhaps by saying something and so making some noise, or by pointing and getting them to turn their head and see. What goes for the case of two people goes for the case of one person as well. Superstition aside, there is no purely mental energy that floats free of the merely physical workings of the brain. If m1 brings about m2 by bringing about p2, then m1 brings about p2. This is downwardcausation. But wait. Doesn’t p1 bring about p2? Isn’t that what the bottom arrow represents? Maybe m1 and p1 work together to bring about p2. There are little holes in the physical causal structure that need to be filled by mental events. You don’t need a sweeping metaphysical thesis about the causal closure of the physical to find this implausible. Maybe p2 is overdetermined. (shrink)
Several theories of emergence will be distinguished. In particular, these are synchronic, diachronic, and weak versions of emergence. While the weaker theories are compatible with property reductionism, synchronic emergentism and strong versions of diachronic emergentism are not. Synchronice mergentism is of particular interest for the discussion of downwardcausation. For such a theory, a system's property is taken to be emergent if it is irreducible, i.e., if it is not reductively explainable. Furthermore, we have to distinguish two different (...) types of irreducibility with quite different consequences: If, on the one hand, a system's property is irreducible because of the irreducibility of the system's parts' behavior on which the property supervenes, we seem to have a case of "downwardcausation". This kind of downwardcausation does not violate the principle of the causal closure of the physical domain. If, on the other hand, a systemic property is irreducible because it is not exhaustively analyzable in terms of its causal role, downwardcausation is not implied. Rather, it is dubitable how unanalyzable properties might play any causal role at all. Thus, epiphenomenalism seems to be implied. The failure to keep apart the two kinds of irreducibility has muddled recent debate about the emergence of properties considerably. (shrink)
. An attempt is made to identify a concept of ‘downwardcausation’ that will fit the claims of some recent writers and apply to interesting cases in biology and cognitive theory, but not to trivial cases. After noting some difficulties in achieving this task, it is proposed that in interesting cases commonly used to illustrate ‘downwardcausation’, (a) regularities hold between multiply realizable properties and (b) the explanation of the parallel regularity at the level of the (...) realizing properties is non-trivial. It is argued that the relation between a realizable property and the property that realizes its effect in a particular case is not usefully regarded as a species of causation and that use of the concept of downwardcausation deflects our attention from our central explanatory tasks. (shrink)
Physicalism ? or roughly the view that the stuff that physics talks about is all the stuff there is ? has had a popular press in philosophical circles during the twentieth century. And yet, at the same time, it has become quite fashionable lately to believe that the mind matters in this world after all and that psychology is an autonomous science irreducible to physics. However, if (true, downward) mental causation implies non-reducibility and Physicalism implies the converse, it (...) is hard to see how these two views could be compatible. This paper reviews some classical arguments purportedly showing how the autonomy of the special sciences can be upheld without violating the laws of physics or the principle that physics constitutes a complete and closed system. These arguments are presented in order of increasing strength, indicating how the more popular arguments in fact fall short of establishing anti-reductionism of the intended kind. New arguments are added which claim to demonstrate quite effectively how downwardcausation is possible compatibly with the reign of physics. The paper begins with a section which distinguishes various kinds of reductionism. (shrink)
In recent papers, Lei Zhong argues that the autonomy solution to the causal exclusion problem is unavailable to anyone that endorses the counterfactual model of causation. The linchpin of his argument is that the counterfactual theory entails the downwardcausation principle, which conflicts with the autonomy solution. In this note I argue that the counterfactual theory does not entail the downwardcausation principle, so it is possible to advocate for the autonomy solution to the causal (...) exclusion problem from within the counterfactual theory of causation. (shrink)
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downwardcausation is question-begging (...) and makes false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
Emergence is interpreted in a non-dualist framework of thought. No metaphysical distinction between the higher and basic levels of organization is supposed, but only a duality of modes of access. Moreover, these modes of access are not construed as mere ways of revealing intrinsic patterns of organization: They are supposed to be constitutive of them, in Kant’s sense. The emergent levels of organization, and the inter-level causations as well, are therefore neither illusory nor ontologically real: They are objective in the (...) sense of transcendental epistemology. This neo-Kantian approach defuses several paradoxes associated with the concept of downwardcausation, and enables one to make good sense of it independently of any prejudice about the existence (or inexistence) of a hierarchy of levels of being. (shrink)
Experimental investigation of mechanisms seems to make use of causal relations that cut across levels of composition. In bottom-up experiments, one intervenes on parts of a mechanism to observe the whole; in top-down experiments, one intervenes on the whole mechanism to observe certain parts of it. It is controversial whether such experiments really make use of interlevel causation, and indeed whether the idea of causation across levels is even conceptually coherent. Craver and Bechtel have suggested that interlevel causal (...) claims can be analysed in a causal and a non-causal component. I accept this idea but argue that their account should be modified so as to account of cases of apparent downwardcausation. First, constitution must be distinguished from identity; second, the analysis of downwardcausation requires the concept of a partial constraint. An analysis along these lines shows that the possibility of downwardcausation is not refuted by Kim's argument according to which it is incompatible with the completeness of physics. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to lay bare the major problems underlying the concept of downwardcausation as discussed within the perspective of the present interest for phenomena that are characterized by self-organization. In our Discussion of the literature, we have focussed on two questions: (1) What sorts of things are said to be, respectively, causing and caused within the context of downwardcausation? And (2) What is the meaning of 'causing' in downward (...) class='Hi'>causation? We have concluded that the concept of 'downwardcausation' is muddled with regard to the meaning of causation and fuzzy with regard to the nature of the causes and the effects. Moreover, we have concluded that 'causation' in respect of 'downwardcausation' is usually understood in terms of explanation and determination rather than in terms of causation in the sense of 'bringing about'. Thus, the term 'downwardcausation' is badly chosen. (shrink)
Recent developments in nonlinear dynamics have found wide application in many areas of science from physics to neuroscience. Nonlinear phenomena such as feedback loops, inter-level relations, wholes constraining and modifying the behavior of their parts, and memory effects are interesting candidates for emergence and downwardcausation. Rayleigh–Bénard convection is an example of a nonlinear system that, I suggest, yields important insights for metaphysics and philosophy of science. In this paper I propose convection as a model for downward (...)causation in classical mechanics, far more robust and less speculative than the examples typically provided in the philosophy of mind literature. Although the physics of Rayleigh–Bénard convection is quite complicated, this model provides a much more realistic and concrete example for examining various assumptions and arguments found in emergence and philosophy of mind debates. After reviewing some key concepts of nonlinear dynamics, complex systems and the basic physics of Rayleigh–Bénard convection, I begin that examination here by (1) assessing a recently proposed definition for emergence and downwardcausation, (2) discussing some typical objections to downwardcausation and (3) comparing this model with Sperry’s examples. (shrink)
The dominant position in Philosophy of Science contends that downwardcausation is an illusion. Instead, we argue that downwardcausation doesn’t introduce vicious circles either in physics or in biology. We also question the metaphysical claim that “physical facts fix all the facts.” Downwardcausation does not imply any contradiction if we reject the assumption of the completeness and the causal closure of the physical world that this assertion contains. We provide an argument for (...) rejecting this assumption. Furthermore, this allows us to reconsider the concept of diachronic emergence. (shrink)
The importance of downwardcausation lies in showing that it shows that functional properties such as mental properties are real, although they cannot be reduced to physical properties. Kim rejects nonreductive physicalism, which includes leading functionalism, by eliminating downwardcausation, and thereby returns to reductionism. In this paper, I make a distinction between two aspects of function—functional meaning and functional structure and argue that functional meaning cannot be reduced to the physical level whereas functional structure can. (...) On this basis, I further distinguish between the integer of the function, which includes the functional meaning and the functional structure, and the whole of the functional realization, and also among the strong, medial, and weak supervenience relations. So-called downwardcausation is indeed the relationship between the whole of the functional realization and its physical realizer, which is a whole-part relation instead of a relation between levels. As a result of understanding downwardcausation in this way and abandoning the principle of the causal closure of the physical world, Kim’s argument becomes invalid and nonreductive functionalism, justified. (shrink)
Lei Zhong (2012. Counterfactuals, regularity and the autonomy approach. Analysis 72: 75–85) argues that non-reductive physicalists cannot establish the autonomy of mental causation by adopting a counterfactual theory of causation since such a theory supports a so-called downwardcausation argument which rules out mental-to-mental causation. We respond that non-reductive physicalists can consistently resist Zhong's downwardcausation argument as it equivocates between two familiar notions of a physical realizer.
O problema da causação descendente é um ponto central na formulação do fisicalismo não-redutivo e na compreensão da emergência de propriedades. Duas interpretações possíveis da causação descendente, nas quais a contribuição do pensamento aristotélico é importante, são examinadas. Os requisitos do programa de matematização da natureza na mecanica clássica, que levaram ao abandono de três dos modos causais aristotélicos, nao parecem igualmente importantes nas ciencias especiais. Isto sugere que a contribuição de Aristóteles pode ser, de certa maneira, retomada. Uma definição (...) de propriedade emergente é apresentada, sendo a causação descendente interprerada de acordo com os modos causais formal e funcional.The problem of downwardcausation is a key subject in the formulation of nonreductive physicalism as well as in the understanding of property emergence. Two possible interpretations of downwardcausation, to which Aristotelian thought is relevant, are examined. In the mathematical understanding of nature in classical mechanics, the principle of causality should meet requirements that entailed the rejection of three among the four Aristotelian causal modes. Those requirements do not seem equally important in the special sciences and one may suggest, then, that Aristotle’s contribution may be taken into account. A definition of an emergent property is proposed, in which downwardcausation is interpreted according to the formal and functional causal modes. (shrink)
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties (...) are better equipped to sustain the distinction than dispositional essentialist accounts. Finally, I argue that the additional evidence needed for strong completeness renders the causal argument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)
In this paper, using a multilevel approach, we defend the positive role of natural selection in the generation of organismal form. Despite the currently widespread opinion that natural selection only plays a negative role in the evolution of form, we argue, in contrast, that the Darwinian factor is a crucial (but not exclusive) factor in morphological organization. Analyzing some classic arguments, we propose incorporating the notion of ‘downwardcausation’ into the concept of ‘natural selection.’ In our opinion, this (...) kind of causation is fundamental to the operation of selection as a creative evolutionary process. (shrink)
This paper responds to Jaegwon Kim's powerful objection to the very possibility of geninely novel emergent properties. Kim argues that the incoherence of reflexive downwardcausation means that the causal power of an emergent phenomenon is ultimately reducible to the causal powers of the causal powers of its constituents. I offer a simple argument showing how to claracterize emergent properties in terms of the effects of structural relations on the causal powers of their constituents.
Recently, Trenton Merricks has defended a libertarian view of human freedom. He claims that human persons have downward causal control of their constituent parts, and that downward causal control of this sort is sufficient for free will. In this paper I examine Merricks’s defense of free will, and argue that it is unsuccessful. I show that having downward causal control is not sufficient for for free will. In an Appendix I also argue that Merricks’s defense of free (...) will, together with assumptions implicit in his broader ontology, commit him to the implausible conclusion that determinism is incompatible with the existence of human persons. (shrink)
Within recent discussions in the Philosophy of Mind, the nature of conscious phenomenal states or qualia (also called ‘raw feels’ or the feel of ‘what it is like to be’) has been an important focus of interest. Proponents of Mind-Body Type-Identity theories have claimed that mental states can be reduced to neurophysiological states of the brain. Others have denied that such a reduction is possible; for them, there remains an explanatory gap. In this paper, functionalist, physicalist, epiphenomenalist, and biological models (...) of the mind are discussed and compared. Donald Davidson’s Anomalous Monism is proposed as a unifying framework for a non-reductive theory of qualia and consciousness. DownwardCausation, Emergence through Symmetry-breaking, and Dynamical Systems Theory are used to show how consciousness and qualia emerge from their neural substrate and can also be causally efficacious. (shrink)
At least one of my professors told me that in order to write a good philosophy paper, one should always try to defend as little territory as possible. The danger of this advice is that although it may make one's points defensible, it may also make them not worth defending. In order to avoid both of these extremes, I am going to defend a relatively modest claim, which appears to be necessary but not sufficient for another more ambitious claim, which (...) itself is also necessary for another more ambitious claim, and so on for several layers. I will start with the most ambitious claim, and then work my way down until I come to the claim I believe I have some chance of defending. I will, however, continue to make references to the other layers, to help us remember why the more modest claims are worth thinking about. (shrink)
The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, ...
Computational sociology models social phenomena using the concepts of emergence and downwardcausation. However, the theoretical status of these concepts is ambiguous; they suppose too much ontology and are invoked by two opposed sociological interpretations of social reality: the individualistic and the holistic. This paper aims to clarify those concepts and argue in favour of their heuristic value for social simulation. It does so by proposing a link between the concept of emergence and Luhmann's theory of communication. For (...) Luhmann, society emerges from the bottom-up as communication and he describes the process by which society limits the possible selections of individuals as downwardcausation. It is argued that this theory is well positioned to overcome some epistemological drawbacks in computational sociology. (shrink)
I argue on the basis of recent findings in neuroscience that consciousness is not a brain process, and then explore some alternative, non-reductive options concerning the metaphysical relationship between consciousness and the brain, such as weak and strong accounts of the emergence of consciousness and the constitution view of consciousness. I propose an Aristotelian account of the strong emergence of consciousness. This account motivates a wider ontology than reductive physicalism and makes reference to formal causation as a way explaining (...) the causal power of consciousness. What is meant by formal causation, in thiscontext, is that consciousness has the causal power to organize or control neuronal activity. This notion of causation is elaborated and supported by recent findings in the neurosciences. An advantage of this empirically informed approach is that proponents of the irreducibility of consciousness no longer need to rely upon conceptually based arguments alone, but can build a case against reductive physicalism that has a significant empirical foundation. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish two types of mental causation, called 'higher-level causation' and 'exploitation'. These notions superficially resemble the traditional problematic notions of supervenient causation and downwardcausation, but they are different in crucial respects. My new distinction is supported by a radically externalist competitor of the so-called Standard View of mental states, i.e. the view that mental states are brain states. I argue that on the Alternative View, the notions of 'higher-level causation' (...) and 'exploitation' can in combination dissolve the problem of mental causation as standardly discussed. (shrink)
The question of the ontological status of social wholes has been formative to the development of key positions and debates within modern social theory. Intrinsic to this is the contested meaning of the concept of emergence and the idea that the collective whole is in some way more than the sum of its parts. This claim, in its contemporary form, gives exaggerated importance to a simple truism of re-description that concerns all wholes. In this paper I argue that a better (...) way to test the ontological status of wholes is to ask whether their causal properties can be reduced to the qualities of their parts. If reduction is possible the ontological status of emergent wholes is diminished. A close analysis of William Wimsatt's definition, conceptualisation, and characterisation of emergent phenomena provides an understanding of the relationship between wholes and their parts and suggests, also, that the properties of collective phenomena of a social kind reduce to the activities of people. Social wholes and their parts reside in the same mode (or level) of organisation. This paper concludes by employing Jaegwon Kim's method of ‘functional reduction’ to demonstrate how to reduce the qualities of wholes to those of their parts. (shrink)
I defend a physicalistic version of ontological emergence; qualia emerge from the brain, but are physical properties nevertheless. First, I address the following questions: what are the central tenets of physicalistic ontological emergentism; what are the relationships between these tenets; what is the relationship between physicalistic ontological emergentism and non-reductive physicalism; and can there even be a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism? This discussion is merely an attempt to clarify exactly what a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism must claim, and (...) to show that the view is at least coherent. I then defend the view from objections, for example, Kim’s (Philos Stud 95:3–36, 1999 ) attempt to apply a version of his exclusion argument to ontological emergentism. I conclude by offering a positive argument for the view: given certain empirical evidence concerning the organization of the brain, physicalism might have to endorse ontological emergentism to avoid epiphenomenalism. (shrink)
For advocates of critical realism emergence is a central theme. Critical realists typically ground their defence of the relative disciplinary autonomy of various sciences by arguing that emergent phenomena exist in a robust non-ontologically, non-causally reductionist sense. Despite the importance they attach to it critical realists have only recently begun to elaborate on emergence at length and systematically compare their own account with those developed by others. This paper clarifies what is distinctive about the critical realist account of emergence by (...) comparing it with an alternative. Critical realism and interactivism are shown to independently converge on the same general process (or constraint) view of emergence and develop complementary accounts of particular emergents. (shrink)
Given some reasonable assumptions concerning the nature of mental causation, non-reductive physicalism faces the following dilemma. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects (given the causal closure of the physical). If mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided if we drop the dichotomy between physical and mental events. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. But (...) actions are neither mental nor physical events. They are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductive physicalism without downwardcausation. The tenability of this view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that non-reductive physicalism is committed to downwardcausation. Appealing to the nature of actions, I will argue that this commitment can be avoided. (shrink)
The issue of downwardcausation (and mental causation in particular), and the exclusion problem is discussed by taking into account some recent advances in the philosophy of science. The problem is viewed from the perspective of the new interventionist theory of causation developed by Woodward. It is argued that from this viewpoint, a higher-level (e.g., mental) state can sometimes truly be causally relevant, and moreover, that the underlying physical state which realizes it may fail to be (...) such. (shrink)
Downwardcausation is commonly held to create problems for ontologically emergent properties. In this paper I describe two novel examples of ontologically emergent properties and show how they avoid two main problems of downwardcausation, the causal exclusion problem and the causal closure problem. One example involves an object whose colour does not logically supervene on the colours of its atomic parts. The other example is inspired by quantum entanglement cases but avoids controversies regarding quantum mechanics. (...) These examples show that the causal exclusion problem can be avoided, in one case by showing how it is possible to interact with an object without interacting with its atomic parts. I accept that emergence cannot be reconciled with causal closure, but argue that violations of causal closure do not entail violations of the base-level laws. Only the latter would conflict with empirical science. (shrink)
This paper tracks the commitments of mechanistic explanations focusing on the relation between activities at different levels. It is pointed out that the mechanistic approach is inherently committed to identifying causal connections at higher levels with causal connections at lower levels. For the mechanistic approach to succeed a mechanism as a whole must do the very same thing what its parts organised in a particular way do. The mechanistic approach must also utilise bridge principles connecting different causal terms of different (...) theoretical vocabularies in order to make the identities of causal connections transparent. These general commitments get confronted with two claims made by certain proponents of the mechanistic approach: William Bechtel often argues that within the mechanistic framework it is possible to balance between reducing higher levels and maintaining their autonomy at the same time, whereas, in a recent paper, Craver and Bechtel argue that the mechanistic approach is able to make downwardcausation intelligible. The paper concludes that the mechanistic approach imbued with identity statements is no better candidate for anchoring higher levels to lower ones while maintaining their autonomy at the same time than standard reductive accounts are, and that what mechanistic explanations are able to do at best is showing that downwardcausation does not exist. (shrink)
Advancing the reductionist conviction that biology must be in agreement with the assumptions of reductive physicalism (the upward hierarchy of causal powers, the upward fixing of facts concerning biological levels) A. Rosenberg argues that downwardcausation is ontologically incoherent and that it comes into play only when we are ignorant of the details of biological phenomena. Moreover, in his view, a careful look at relevant details of biological explanations will reveal the basic molecular level that characterizes biological systems, (...) defined by wholly physical properties, e.g., geometrical structures of molecular aggregates (cells). In response, we argue that contrary to his expectations one cannot infer reductionist assumptions even from detailed biological explanations that invoke the molecular level, as interlevel causal reciprocity is essential to these explanations. Recent very detailed explanations that concern the structure and function of chromatin—the intricacies of supposedly basic molecular level—demonstrate this. They show that what seem to be basic physical parameters extend into a more general biological context, thus rendering elusive the concepts of the basic level and causal hierarchy postulated by the reductionists. In fact, relevant phenomena are defined across levels by entangled, extended parameters. Nor can the biological context be explained away by basic physical parameters defining molecular level shaped by evolution as a physical process. Reductionists claim otherwise only because they overlook the evolutionary significance of initial conditions best defined in terms of extended biological parameters. Perhaps the reductionist assumptions (as well as assumptions that postulate any particular levels as causally fundamental) cannot be inferred from biological explanations because biology aims at manipulating organisms rather than producing explanations that meet the coherence requirements of general ontological models. Or possibly the assumptions of an ontology not based on the concept of causal powers stratified across levels can be inferred from biological explanations. The incoherence of downwardcausation is inevitable, given reductionist assumptions, but an ontological alternative might avoid this. We outline desiderata for the treatment of levels and properties that realize interlevel causation in such an ontology. (shrink)
To explain phenomenon R by showing how mechanism M yields output R each time it is triggered by circumstances C, is to give a causal explanation of R. This paper analyses what mechanistic analysis can contribute to our understanding of causation in general and of downwardcausation in particular. It is first shown, against Glennan, that the concept of causation cannot be reduced to that of mechanism. Second it is shown, against Craver and Bechtel, that mechanistic (...) explanation allows us to make sense of causal processes that cut across levels, either in bottom-up direction where a change in a part of a system causes a change in the whole, or in downward direction where a change at the level of the system causes a change at the level of its parts. I suggest construing a decision's influence on molecules in muscle cells as a global constraint. Microscopic laws determine the detailed evolution of muscle cells and glucose molecules, but this evolution is constrained by the fact that it must be compatible with the action caused by the decision. (shrink)
Consider the following dilemma for non-reductive physicalism. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects, given the causal closure of the physical. And if mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided once the dichotomy between physical and mental events is dropped. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. But actions, I will argue, are neither mental nor physical (...) events. Actions are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductive physicalism without downwardcausation. The tenability of such a view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that every version of non-reductive physicalism is committed to downwardcausation. But the nature action, I will argue, allows us to avoid this commitment. (shrink)
This paper explores the fundamental ideas that have motivated the idea of emergence and the movement of emergentism. The concept of reduction, which lies at the heart of the emergence idea is explicated, and it is shown how the thesis that emergent properties are irreducible gives a unified account of emergence. The paper goes on to discuss two fundamental unresolved issues for emergentism. The first is that of giving a “positive” characterization of emergence; the second is to give a coherent (...) explanation of how “downward” causation, a central component of emergentism, is able to avoid the problem of overdetermination. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim’s causal exclusion argument says that if all physical effects have sufficient physical causes, and no physical effects are caused twice over by distinct physical and mental causes, there cannot be any irreducible mental causes. In addition, Kim has argued that the nonreductive physicalist must give up completeness, and embrace the possibility of downwardcausation. This paper argues first that this extra argument relies on a principle of property individuation, which the nonreductive physicalist need not accept, and (...) second that once we get clear on overdetermination, there is a way to reject the exclusion principle upon which the causal exclusion argument depends, but third that this should not lead to the belief that mental causation is easily accounted for in terms of counterfactual dependencies. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that causation is an essentially macroscopic phenomenon, and that mental causes are therefore capable of outcompeting their more specific physical realizers as causes of physical effects. But I also argue that any causes must be type-identical with physical properties, on pain of positing inexplicable physical conspiracies. I therefore allow macroscopic mental causation, but only when it is physically reducible.
My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mental causation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mental causation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where physical reality (...) consists of a network of events.1 The second concerns the nature of causation, and the third concerns the conception of behavior. I try to vindicate a robust idea of mental causation. (shrink)
Emergence requires that the ultimate physical micro-entities have micro-latent causal powers, which manifest themselves only when the entities are combined in ways that are emergence-engendering, in addition to the micro-manifest powers that account for their behavior in other circumstances. Subjects of emergent properties will have emergent micro-structural properties, specified partly in terms of these micro-latent powers, each of which will be determined by a micro-structural property specified only in terms of the micro-manifest powers of the constituents and the way they (...) are related. If the determiner and the determined properties are distinct, this determination is the basis of the supervenience of emergent properties on non-emergent physical properties. If not, emergence does not involve such supervenience. Either way, there is no problem with diachronic downwardcausation. (shrink)
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 I'll try to restore emergentism's empirical status, but my broader aim is to use Lowe's model to explore some central topics in the mental causation debate, including the "causal closure" of the physical world and the nature of causal powers. (shrink)
In the first section of this paper, I articulate Jaegwon Kim's argument against emergent down ward causation. In the second section, I canvas four responses to Kim's argument and argue that each fails. In the third section, I show that emergent downwardcausation does not, contra Kim, entail overdetermination. I argue that supervenience of emergent upon base properties is not sufficient for nomological causal relationsbetween emergent and base properties. What sustains Kim's argument is rather the claim that (...) emergent properties realized by base properties can have no causal powers distinct from those base properties. I argue that this is false. (shrink)
In this paper I describe basic features of traditional (British) emergentism and Popper’s emergentist theory of consciousness and compare them to the contemporary versions of emergentism present in connectionist approach in cognitive sciences. I argue that despite their similarities, the traditional form, as well as Popper’s theory belong to strong causal emergentism and yield radically different ontological consequences compared to the weaker, contemporary version present in cognitive science. Strong causal emergentism denies the causal closure of the physical domain and introduces (...) genuine new mental causal powers and genuine downwardcausation, while weak emergentism provides new insights in understanding the mechanisms and explanation that is compatible with physicalism. (shrink)
I defend what may loosely be called an eliminativist account of causation by showing how several of the main features of causation, namely asymmetry, transitivity, and necessitation (or sometimes probability-raising), arise from the combination of fundamental dynamical laws and a special constraint on the macroscopic structure of matter in the past. At the microscopic level, the causal features of necessitation and transitivity are grounded, but not the asymmetry. At the coarse-grained level of the macroscopic physics, the causal asymmetry (...) is grounded, but not the necessitation or transitivity. Thus, at no single level of description does the physics justify the conditions that are taken to be constitutive of causation. Nevertheless, if we mix our reasoning about the microscopic and macroscopic descriptions, the structure provided by the dynamics and special initial conditions can justify the folk concept of causation to a significant extent. I explain why our causal concept works so well even though at bottom it is comprised of a patchwork of principles that don't mesh well. (shrink)
Non-Cartesian substance dualism (NCSD) maintains that persons or selves are distinct from their organic physical bodies and any parts of those bodies. It regards persons as ‘substances’ in their own right, but does not maintain that persons are necessarily separable from their bodies, in the sense of being capable of disembodied existence. In this paper, it is urged that NCSD is better equipped than either Cartesian dualism or standard forms of physicalism to explain the possibility of mental (...) class='Hi'>causation. A model of mental causation adopting the NCSD perspective is proposed which, it is argued, is consistent with all that is currently known about the operations of the human central nervous system, including the brain. Physicalism, by contrast, seems ill-equipped to explain the distinctively intentional or teleological character of mental causation, because it effectively reduces all such causation to ‘blind’ physical causation at a neurological level. (shrink)
Causation is one of the most important and enduring topics in philosophy, going back to Aristotle. In this important book, Helen Beebee covers all the major debates and issues in the philosophy of causation. Beginning with an introduction to the concept, Causation examines the most important philosopher of causation, David Hume, and assesses the problems of induction and necessary connection in light of Hume's thought. Beebee then investigates different theories of causation and challenges to the (...) Humane approach. She considers the concepts of regularity, causal experience, necessity, and essences. Throughout the book, she examines and critically discusses other important philosophers on causation, including JL Mackie, John Wright, and Brian Ellis. (shrink)
Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. -/- In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often (...) produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. -/- We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key (...) to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC, these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
Tooley here sets out and defends realist accounts of traditional empiricist explanations of causation and laws of nature, arguing that since reductionist accounts of causation are exposed to decisive objections, empiricists must break with that tradition.
Key elements of Randolph Clarke's libertarian account of freedom that requires both agent-causation and non-deterministic event-causation in the production of free action is assessed with an eye toward determining whether agent-causal accounts can accommodate the truth of judgments of moral obligation.
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. (shrink)
Argument for Epiphenomenalism [I]: (A) Mental event-tokens are identical with physical event-tokens. (B) The causal powers of a physical event are determined only by its physical properties; and (C) mental properties are not reducible to physical properties.
The problem of freedom and determinism has vexed philosophers for several millennia, and continues to be a topic of lively debate today. One of the proposed solutions to the problem that has received a great deal of attention is the Theory of Agent Causation. While the theory has enjoyed its share of advocates, and perhaps more than its share of critics, the theory’s advocates and critics have always agreed on one thing: the Theory of Agent Causation is an (...) incompatibilist theory. That is, both believers and nonbelievers in the theory have taken it for granted that the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is one according to which freedom and determinism are incompatible. In fact, so entrenched is this assumption that no one on either side of the debate has ever questioned it. Yet it turns out that this assumption is wrong – the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is a compatibilist one. (shrink)
This critical notice highlights the important contributions that Eric Watkins's writings have made to our understanding of theories about causation developed in eighteenth-century German philosophy and by Kant in particular. Watkins provides a convincing argument that central to Kant's theory of causation is the notion of a real ground or causal power that is non-Humean (since it doesn't reduce to regularities or counterfactual dependencies among events or states) and non-Leibnizean because it doesn't reduce to logical or conceptual relations. (...) However, we raise questions about Watkins's more specific claims that Kant completely rejects a model on which the first relatum of a phenomenal causal relation is an event and that he maintains that real grounds are metaphysically and not just epistemically indeterminate. -/- . (shrink)
The Exclusion Problem (EP) for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett (2008, 2003) puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination: if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that if (...) an effect has two sufficient causes, it is overdetermined. If sound, her argument does two things: it solves EP, and it shows how to use counterfactuals in order to make the notion of overdetermination precise. However, the argument is not sound. (shrink)
A major criticism of David Lewis’ counterfactual theory of causation is that it allows too many things to count as causes, especially since Lewis allows, in addition to events, absences to be causes as well. Peter Menzies has advanced this concern under the title “the problem of profligate causation.” In this paper, I argue that the problem of profligate causation provides resources for exposing a tension between Lewis’ acceptance of absence causation and his modal realism. The (...) result is a different problem of profligate causation—one that attacks the internal consistency of Lewisian metaphysics rather than employing common sense judgments or intuitions that conflict with Lewis’ extensive list of causes. (shrink)
I survey recent work on mental causation. The discussion is conducted under the twin presumptions that mental states, including especially what subjects believe and desire, causally explain what subjects do, and that the physical sciences can in principle give a complete explanation for each and every bodily movement. I start with sceptical discussions of various views that hold that, in some strong sense, the causal explanations offered by psychology are autonomous with respect to those offered by the physical sciences. (...) I then proceed to views that see the problem of mental causation as that of identifying where in the physical story about us and our world lie the parts that in effect tell us abut mental causation - the kind of position that is pretty much standard in the cognitive science community - and consider issues raised by various forms of functionalism and externalism. The general thrust of my discussion is sympathetic to the story about mental causation suggested by those type-type versions of the mind-brain identity theory that allow for the possiblity of multiple realisability. I include a brief discussion of how a map-system account of belief, by contrast with a language of thought one, should understand explanations of behaviour in terms of what a subject believes. (shrink)
It is widely supposed that David Hume invented and espoused the "regularity" theory of causation, holding that causal relations are nothing but a matter of one type of thing being regularly followed by another. It is also widely supposed that he was not only right about this, but that it was one of his greatest contributions to philosophy. Strawson here argues that the regularity theory of causation is indefensible, and that Hume never adopted it in any case. Strawson (...) maintains that Hume did not claim that causation in the natural world is just a matter of regular succession, that such a dogmatic metaphysical claim about the nature of reality would have been utterly contrary to his fundamental philosophical principles, and that he rightly took it for granted that there was more to causation than regularity of succession, claiming only that regularity of succession was all that we could ever know of causation. (shrink)
In my article I evaluate Searle's account of mental causation, in particular his account of the causal efficacy of unconscious intentional states. I argue that top-down causation and overdetermination are unsolved problems in Searle's philosophy of mind, despite his assurances to the contrary. I also argue that there are conflicting claims involved in his account of mental causation and his account of the unconscious. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand how unconscious intentional states can be (...) causally efficacious. My conclusion will be that if Searle's conception of unconscious intentionality is to play a genuine role in the causal explanation of human action, it needs to be rethought. (shrink)
According to Roger Scruton, it is not possible for photographs to be representational art. Most responses to Scruton’s scepticism are versions of the claim that Scruton disregards the extent to which intentionality features in photography; but these cannot force him to give up his notion of the ideal photograph. My approach is to argue that Scruton has misconstrued the role of causation in his discussion of photography. I claim that although Scruton insists that the ideal photograph is defined by (...) its ‘merely causal’ provenance, in fact he fails to take the causal provenance of photographs seriously enough. To replace Scruton’s notion of the ideal photograph, I offer a substantive account of the causal provenance of photographs, centred on the distinctive role of ‘the photographic event’. I conclude that, with a proper understanding of the photographic process, we have good reason to re-open the question of photography as a representational art. (shrink)
Michael Tooley presents a major new philosophical theory of the nature of time, offering a powerful alternative to the traditional "tensed" and recent "tenseless" accounts of time. He argues for a dynamic conception of the universe, in which past, present, and future are not merely subjective features of experience. He claims that the past and the present are real, while the future is not. Tooley's approach accounts for time in terms of causation. He therefore claims that the key to (...) understanding the dynamic nature of the universe is to understand the nature of causation. Time, Tense, and Causation is a landmark treatment of one of the oldest and most perplexing intellectual problems, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the character of time. (shrink)
In contemporary literature, the fact that there is negative causation is the primary motivation for rejecting the physical connection view, and arguing for alternative accounts of causation. In this paper we insist that such a conclusion is too fast. We present two frameworks, which help the proponent of the physical connection view to resist the anti-connectionist conclusion. According to the first framework, there are positive causal claims, which co-refer with at least some negative causal claims. According to the (...) second framework, negative causal claims are generated from mapping and comparing different scenarios, which can fully be accounted for in purely positive terms. Since the positive causal claims evoked by both frameworks pose no obvious difficulties for the physical connection view, these frameworks make it possible for the connectionists to accommodate negative causal claims into their theory. Once these strategies are available, the connectionists become able to render all the arguments starting from the observation that there are negative causal claims in our causal discourse inconclusive with regard to the viability of the physical connection view. (shrink)
One part of the true theory of actual causation is a set of conditions responsible for eliminating all of the non-causes of an effect that can be discerned at the level of counterfactual structure. I defend a proposal for this part of the theory.
Despite the fact that the nature of the properties of causation is rarely discussed within the mental causation debate, the implicit assumption is that they are universals as opposed to tropes. However, in recent literature on the problem of mental causation, a new solution has emerged which aims to address the problem by appealing to tropes. It is argued that if the properties of causation are tropes rather than universals, then a psychophysical reductionism can be advanced (...) which does not face the problem of multiple realizability. However, the 'trope solution' rests upon the assumption that one can combine a trope monism with a type dualism. I argue that such a combination cannot be allowed. Given a plausible interpretation of types within a trope ontology, trope monism in fact entails type monism. Consequently, if one identifies mental tropes with physical tropes, one must also identify mental and physical types and in doing so face a modified version of the multiple realizability argument. (shrink)
Abstract: It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mental causation is posed by the causal self-sufficiency of physical causal processes. I argue, however, that this feature of the world, which I articulate in principle I call Completeness, in fact poses no genuine threat to mental causation. Some find Completeness threatening to mental causation because they confuse it with a stronger principle, which I call Closure. Others do not simply conflate Completeness (...) and Closure, but hold that Completeness, together with certain plausible assumptions, _entails_ Closure. I refute the most fully worked-out version of such an argument. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mental causation. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mental causation. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mental causation. (shrink)
A collection of new essays on causation in the period from Galileo to Lady Mary Shepherd (roughly 1600-1850). Contributors: David Wootton, Tad Schmaltz, William Eaton and Robert Higgerson, Eric Schliesser, Pauline Phemister, Timothy Stanton, Peter Millican, Constantine Sandis, Boris Hennig, Angela Breitenbach, Stathis Psillos, and Martha Brandt Bolton.
In an attempt to improve upon Alexander Pruss’s work (2006, pp. 240-248), I (Weaver, 2012) have argued that if all purely contingent events could be caused and something like a Lewisian analysis of causation is true (per Lewis, 2004), then all purely contingent events have causes. I dubbed the derivation of the universality of causation the “Lewisian argument”. The Lewisian argument assumed not a few controversial metaphysical theses, particularly essentialism, an incommunicable-property view of essences (per Plantinga 2003), and (...) the idea that counterfactual dependence is necessary for causation. There are, of course, substantial objections to such theses. While I think a fight against objections to the Lewisian argument can be won, I develop, in what follows, a much more intuitive argument for the universality of causation which takes as its inspiration a result from Frederic Fitch’s work (1963) (with credit to who we now know was Alonzo Church (2009)) that if all truths are such that they are knowable, then (counter-intuitively) all truths are known. The resulting Church-Fitch proof for the universality of causation is preferable to the Lewisian argument since it rests upon far weaker formal and metaphysical assumptions than those of the Lewisian argument. (shrink)
I provide a comprehensive metaphysics of causation based on the idea that fundamentally things are governed by the laws of physics, and that derivatively difference-making can be assessed in terms of what fundamental laws of physics imply for hypothesized events. Highlights include a general philosophical methodology, the fundamental/derivative distinction, and my mature account of causal asymmetry.
One of the major difficulties facing presentism is the problem of causation. In this paper, I propose a new solution to that problem, one that is compatible with intrinsic, fundamental causal relations. Accommodating relations of this kind is important because (i) according to David Lewis (2004), such relations are needed to account for causation in our world and worlds relevantly similar to our own, (ii) there is no other strategy currently available that successfully reconciles presentism with relations of (...) this kind and (iii) resolving the problem of causation by accommodating intrinsic, fundamental causal relations provides the presentist with a far more general solution to the problem of causation than those currently on offer. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest a new interpretation of the relations of inherence, causation and conception in Spinoza. I discuss the views of Don Garrett on this issue and argue against Della Rocca's recent suggestion that a strict endorsement of the PSR leads necessarily to the identification of the relations of inherence, causation and conception. I argue that (1) Spinoza never endorsed this identity, and (2) that Della Rocca's suggestion could not be considered as a legitimate reconstruction or (...) friendly amendment to Spinoza's system because it creates several severe and irresolvable problems in the system. -/- In the first part of the paper, I present the considerations and arguments that motivated Don Garrett's and Della Rocca's interpretations. In the second part, I present and examine several problems that result from Della Rocca's reading. In the third and final part, I (1) present my own view on the relation among inherence, causation, and conception; (2) offer a new interpretation of the conceived through relation in Spinoza; and finally, (3) defend and justify the presence of (non-arbitrary) bifurcations at the very center of Spinoza's system. (shrink)
The standard paradigm for mental causation is a person’s acting for a reason. Something happens - she intentionally φ’s - the occurrence of which we explain by citing a relevant belief or desire. In the present context, I simply take for granted the following two conditions on the appropriateness of this explanation. First, the agent φ’s _because_ she believes/desires what we say she does, where this is expressive of a _causal_ dependence.1 Second, her believing/desiring this gives her a _reason_ (...) for φ-ing: recognizing that she has this belief/desire makes her φ-ing intelligible as rational in the light of her other attitudes and circumstances. A further condition must be met, though, if this is to be a genuine psychological explanation, a case of her acting _for_ the reason in question. Consider the following example of Davidson’s (1973, p. 79). An exhausted climber is desperate to rid herself of the weight and danger of holding her partner on a rope; and her sudden realization that simply letting go would achieve this so unnerves her that her grip loosens slightly and he falls. Her releasing him causally depends upon her having this belief and desire, which provide _a_ reason for doing what she does. But this is not _why_ she does it: it would be at best misleading to say that she dropped him, intentionally, because she was fed up with holding his weight, or because she thought that she might otherwise fall. Her letting go does not depend upon her having these reasons in the right way. The reason-giving relation is causally irrelevant. If we are to explain a person’s acting _for_ a reason, then her doing. (shrink)
In discussions on mental causation and externalism, it is often assumed that extrinsic, or relational, properties cannot have causal efficacy. In this paper I argue that this assumption is based on a category mistake, in that causal efficacy (dependence among events or states of affairs) is confused with causal influence (persistence of and interaction among objects). I then argue that relational properties are indeed causally efficacious, which I explain with the help of Dretske's notion of a 'structuring cause'.
I. the view that reasons cannot be causes. II. the view that the explanatory relevance of psychological states such as beliefs and intentions derives from their content, their explanatory role is not causal and we thus have no good reason to ascribe causal power to them. III. the idea that if the mental supervenes on the physical, then what really explains our actions is the physical properties determining our propositional attitudes, and not those attitudes themselves. IV. the thesis that since (...) there are no laws linking (intentional) mental states to actions, those states cannot be genuine causes of action. (shrink)
Instances of negative causation—preventions, omissions, and the like—have long created philosophical worries. In this paper, I argue that concerns about negative causation can be addressed in the context of causal explanation generally, and mechanistic explanation specifically. The gravest concern about negative causation is that it exacerbates the problem of causal promiscuity—that is, the problem that arises when a particular account of causation identifies too many causes for a particular effect. In the explanatory context, the problem of (...) promiscuity can be solved by characterizing the phenomenon to be explained as a contrast between two or more events or non-events. This contrastive strategy also can solve other problems that negative causation presents for the leading accounts of mechanistic explanation. Along the way, I argue that to be effective, accounts of causal explanation must incorporate negative causation. I also develop a taxonomy of negative causation and incorporate each variety of negative causation into the leading accounts of mechanistic explanation. (shrink)
Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit, and Jaegwon Kim put forward two models of higher-level causal explanation. Advocates of both versions are inclined to draw the conclusion that the models don't differ substantially. I argue, on the contrary, that there are relevant metaphysical differences between Jackson and Pettit's notion of programme explanation on the one hand, and Kim's idea of supervenient causation on the other. These can be traced back to underlying differences between the contents of their physicalisms.
Perceptual experience, that paradigm of subjectivity, constitutes our most immediate and fundamental access to the objective world. At least, this would seem to be so if commonsense realism is correct — if perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of what such objects are like. Commonsense realism raises many questions. First, can we be more precise about its commitments? Does it entail any particular conception of the nature of perceptual experience (...) and its relation to perceived objects, or any particular view of the way perception yields knowledge? Second, what explains the apparent intuitive appeal of commonsense realism? Should we think of it as a kind of folk theory held by most human adults or is there a sense in which we are pre-theoretically committed to it — in virtue of the experience we enjoy or in virtue of the concepts we use or in virtue of the explanations we give? Third, is commonsense realism defensible, in the face of formidable challenges from epistemology, metaphysics and cognitive science? The project of the present volume is to advance our understanding of these issues and thus to shed light on the commitments and credentials of commonsense realism. As you may have guessed from the title, the volume also aims to highlight the key role the concept of causation plays in these debates. Central issues to be addressed include the status and nature of causal requirements on perception, the causal role of perceptual experience, and the relation between objective perception and causal thinking — issues that, as many chapters in the volume bring out, are inseparable from concerns with the very nature of causation. (shrink)
Nonreductive physicalism provides an appealing solution to the nature of mental properties. But its success as a theory of mental properties has been called into doubt by claims that it cannot adequately handle the problems of mental causation, as it leads either to epiphenomenalism or to thoroughgoing overdetermination. I argue that these apparent problems for the nonreductivist are based in fundamental confusion about causation and explanation. I distinguish two different types of explanation and two different relations to which (...) they appeal: causation and determination. I argue that these types of explanation do not compete with one another, nor do these relations jointly result in overdetermination. In closing I develop a nonreductivist solution to mental causation which avoids both the hazards of epiphenomenalism and of overdetermination and so demonstrates a way to save nonreductive physicalism from the problems of mental causation. (shrink)
I propose a non-Humean theory of causation with “tendencies” as causal connections. Not, however, as “necessary connexions”: causes are not sufficient, they do not necessitate their effects. The theory is designed to be, not an analysis of the concept of causation, but a description of what is the case in typical cases of causa-tion. I therefore call it a metaphysical theory of causation, as opposed to a semantic one.
Bertrand Russell famously argued that causation is not part of the fundamental physical description of the world, describing the notion of cause as "a relic of a bygone age." This paper assesses one of Russell’s arguments for this conclusion: the ‘Directionality Argument’, which holds that the time symmetry of fundamental physics is inconsistent with the time asymmetry of causation. We claim that the coherence and success of the Directionality Argument crucially depends on the proper interpretation of the ‘time (...) symmetry’ of fundamental physics as it appears in the argument, and offer two alternative interpretations. We argue that: (1) if ‘time symmetry’ is understood as the time-reversal invariance of physical theories, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument should be rejected; and (2) if ‘time symmetry’ is understood as the temporally bidirectional nomic dependence relations of physical laws, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument is far more plausible. We defend the second reading as continuous with Russell’s writings, and consider the consequences of the bidirectionality of nomic dependence relations in physics for the metaphysics of causation. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend the causal homogeneity of functional, mental properties against Kim’s attack. It is argued that (a) token identity is sufficient for mental causation, that (b) token identity implies a sort of functional reduction, but that (c) nonetheless functional, mental properties can be causally homogeneous despite being multiply realizable: multiple composition is sufficient for multiple realizability, but multiple composition does not prevent the realizers from having their pertinent effects in common. Thus, the causal (...) exclusion problem provides no argument for abandoning the position that there are functional, mental properties that are natural kind properties. (shrink)