Role-functionalism for mental events attempts to avoid epiphenomenalism without psychophysical identities. The paper addresses the question of whether it can succeed. It is argued that there is considerable reason to believe it cannot avoid epiphenomenalism, and that if it cannot, then it is untenable. It is pointed out, however, that even if role- functionalism is indeed an untenable theory of mental events, a role-functionalism account of mental dispositions has some intuitive plausibility.
Epiphenomenalism has been criticized with several objections. It has been argued that epiphenomenalism is incompatible with the alleged causal relevance of mental states, and that it renders knowledge of our own conscious states impossible. In this article, it is demonstrated that qualia-epiphenomenalism follows from some well- founded assumptions, and that it meets the cited objections. Though not free from difficulties, it is at least superior to its main competitors, namely, physicalism and interactionism.
Despite the fact that Davidson's theory of the causal relata is crucial to his response to the problem of mental causation - that of anomalous monism - it is commonly overlooked within discussions of his position. Anomalous monism is accused of entailing property epiphenomenalism, but given Davidson's understanding of the causal relata, such accusations are wholly misguided. There are, I suggest, two different forms of property epiphenomenalism. The first understands the term 'property' in an ontological sense, the second (...) in a linguistic sense. Anomalous monism cannot plausibly be accused of either. The first cannot legitimately be applied to anomalous monism as it is incompatible with Davidson's ontology. And accusations of predicate epiphenomenalism, although consistent with Davidson's ontology, are ungrounded regarding Davidson's anomalous monism. Philosophers of mind have mislocated the problem with Davidson's anomalous monism, which in fact lies with the implausible theory of the causal relata upon which it rests. (shrink)
Colin McGinn urged that while a brain state P explains consciousness, a conception P is cognitively inaccessible to us. This paper argues that McGinn's argument for his form of materialism is committed to P (and consciousness which P explains) being epiphenomenal or causally inert relative to such things as the movements of our bodies. As a result, McGinn's materialism creates a duality in the brain and thereby faces the same problem of epiphenomenalism which plagues the Cartesian dualist.
Epiphenomenalism is the view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but have no effects upon any physical events. Behavior is caused by muscles that contract upon receiving neural impulses, and neural impulses are generated by input from other neurons or from sense organs. On the epiphenomenalist view, mental events play no causal role in this process. Huxley (1874), who held the view, compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work (...) of a locomotive. James (1879), who rejected the view, characterized epiphenomenalists' mental events as not affecting the brain activity that produces them "any more than a shadow reacts upon the steps of the traveller whom it accompanies". (shrink)
One of the strongest objections to epiphenomenalism is that it precludes any kind of knowledge of qualia, since empirical knowledge has to include a causal relationship between the respective belief and the object of knowledge. It is argued that this objection works only if the causal relationship is understood in a very specific sense (as a 'direct' causal relationship). Epiphenomenalism can, however, live well with other kinds of causal relationships ('indirect' causal relationships) or even with a reliability account (...) of knowledge which does not invoke causation at all. Michael Pauen has argued extensively (this volume of Journal of Consciousness Studies), however, that this line of defence doesn't work because it presupposes the existence of psychophysical laws connecting qualia with physical phenomena which cannot be established under epiphenomenalist presuppositions. It is argued that Pauen's arguments lead to sceptical consequences which threaten not only interactionist alternatives to epiphenomenalism but finally his own account. (shrink)
Thomas Huxley is often identified as the originator of the doctrineknown as ``epiphenomenalism,'' but there appears to be littleappreciation for the details of Huxley's theory. In particular,conflicting interpretations show that there is uncertainty about twoaspects of his position: whether mental states are completelywithout causal powers or simply have no influence on the behavior theyare typically taken to explain, and whether conscious epiphenomena arethemselves physical states of the brain or immaterial items. I clarifythese issues and show that Huxley's brand of (...)epiphenomenalism is in factdifferent from the forms usually attributed to him. (shrink)
I argue that, on plausible assumptions, anomalous entails monism epiphenomenalism of the mental. The plausible assumptions are (1) events are particulars; (2) causal relations are extensional; (3) mental properties are epiphrastic. A principle defender of anomalous monism, Donald Davidson, acknowledges that anomalous monism is committed to (1) and (2). I argue that it is committed to (3) as well. Given (1), (2), and (3), epiphenomenalism of the mental falls out immediately. Three attempts to salvage anomalous monism from (...) class='Hi'>epiphenomenalism of the mental are examined and rejected. I conclude with reflections on the status of non-reductive physicalism. (shrink)
In this doctoral dissertation I consider, and reject, the claim that recent varieties of non-reductive physicalism, particularly Donald Davidson's anomalous monism, are committed to a new kind of epiphenomenalism. Non-reductive physicalists identify each mental event with a physical event, and are thus entitled to the belief that mental events are causes, since the physical events with which they are held to be identical are causes. However, Jaegwon Kim, Ernest Sosa and others have argued that if we follow the non-reductive (...) physicalist in denying that mental features can be reduced to physical properties, then we must regard mental properties as being causally irrelevant to their bearers' effects, In short, the non-reductive physicalist is said to be committed to the belief that while there are mental causes, they do not cause their effects in virtue of being the types of mental state that they are. It is in this sense that non-reductive physicalists are thought to represent a new form of epiphenomenalism. After a brief survey of the history of epiphenomenalism, and its mutation into the contemporary strain that is believed to afflict non-reductive physicalism, 1 argue against the counterfactual criterion of the sort of causal relevance that we take mental features to enjoy. I then criticize the 'trope' response to the epiphenomenalist threat, and conclude that much of the current debate on this topic is premised on the mistaken belief that there is some variety of causal relevance that is not simply a brand of explanatory relevance. Once this is seen, it will seem much less plausible that mental properties are excluded from relevance to the phenomena of which we typically take them to be explanatory. (shrink)
The so-called problem of mental causation as discussed in the recent literature raises three central challenges for an adequate solution from a physicalist perspective: the threat of epiphenomenalism, the problem of externalism (or the difficulty in accounting for the causal efficacy of extrinsic mental properties) and the problem of causal exclusion (or the threat of over determination). We wish to account for mental causationas a real phenomenon within a physicalistic framework without accepting epiphenomenalism or overdetermination. The key ideas (...) of our proposal are an internal realism of causation combined with a relative notion of individuating events. We are arguing?contra Davidson?tha there is no absolute notion of events (neither as types nor as tokens) but rather one which is relative to explanatory interests and our intuitions concerning a relevant spatial and temporal overlap. Furthermore, we are presupposing a metaphysics of internal realism: We can only characterize entities by means of concepts produced within our epistemological framework. Physical concepts and mental concepts crossclassify the world as it is. Relying on this framework we try to explain how mental causation can be adequately described: Although mental concepts are not reducible to physical concepts and mental event-tokens may be different from "underlying" physical event-tokens, mental events are real phenomena that are realized by physical phenomena in special context conditions. (shrink)
I propose a new form of epiphenomenalism, 'explanatory epiphenomenalism', the view that the identification of A's mental properties does not provide a causal explanation of A's behaviour. I arrive at this view by showing that although anomalous monism does not entail type epiphenomenalism (despite what many of Davidson's critics have suggested), it does (when coupled with some additional claims) lead to the conclusion that the identification of A's reasons does not causally explain A's behaviour. I then formalize (...) this view and show that it is an attractive position, because it captures the insights of existing forms of epiphenomenalism without their onerous metaphysical commitments. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend the causal efficacy of consciousness against two specters of epiphenomenalism. We argue that these challenges are best met, on the one hand, by rejecting all forms of consciousness-body dualism, and on the other, by adopting a dynamical systems approach to understanding the causal efficacy of conscious experience. We argue that this non-reductive identity theory provides the theoretical resources for reconciling the reality and efficacy of consciousness with the neurophysiology of the brain (...) and body. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism expressed as a form of materialism in two key axioms; distinguished from Cartesian dualism, physicalism, eliminativism; shown to be compatible with a subjective experience of free choice but not with libertarian free will - the social consequences of this view.
In "metaphysics" richard taylor argues that epiphenomenalism is implausible because it leaves open the possibility that human behavior occurs without the presence of mental events. in my paper i examine the sort of possibility involved and conclude that the logical possibility of "mind-less behavior" which epiphenomenalism must allow is an equal possibility for all competing theories of mind. thus, epiphenomenalism is seen to be no worse off in this respect than other theories and taylor's objection fails.
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. (shrink)
The type-type reductive identity of the mental to the physical was once the dominant position in the mental causation debate. In time this consensus was overturned, largely due to its inability to handle the problem of multiple realizability. In its place a nonreductive position emerged which often included an adherence to functionalism. Functionalism construes mental properties as functional states of an organism, which in turn have specific physical realizers. This nonreductive form of functionalism, henceforth called role functionalism, has faced a (...) number of criticisms itself. Chief among these is the concern that the realizer of the functional role is causally sufficient, so the role property does not make a contribution of its own. In this paper I argue that there is a way for unreduced functional properties to play a role after all. This is done by conceiving of functional properties as higher level functional properties of a macro system which determine that its realizers will play the roles that they play. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor has long championed the view, recently dubbed “scientific intentional realism” (Loewer and Ray, 1991, p. xiv), that “a scientifically adequate psychology will contain laws that quantify over intentional phenomena in intentional terms.” On such a view our belief/desire psychology will be “vindicated” through empirical investigation; that is, it will be shown to denote the explanatory (or causally salient) states or events in the production of thought and behavior. That intentional properties, states, or events have causal efficacy---are not mere (...) epiphenomena---is necessary for any such vindication. This paper investigates whether intentional properties can if fact ground or sustain the causal relations empirical psychology aims to reveal. I conclude that intentional properties are not amenable to such an explanatory role, and that, therefore, a different vindication of intentional description is required of the realist. (shrink)