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 particulars. (D) Every property is either categorical or dispositional, but not both. We show how these doctrines influence current philosophical thinking about the mind, suggest and defend an alternative conception of properties, and indicate how this conception provides answers to two puzzles besetting contemporary philosophy of mind: the problem of mental causation and the problem of qualia. (shrink)
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)
I argue that (strong) psychophysical supervenience, properly understood as a metaphysical dependence or determination relation, helps to account for the causal/explanatory relevance of mental properties because (1) it blocks a standard epiphenomenalist objection to the effect that an event's mental properties are 'screened off' by their physical properties: (2) it accounts for the _causal (and not merely _normative or merely _nomological) status of commonsense psychological generalizations; (3) it accounts for the _nonredundancy and _irreducibility of psychological explanations.
It is argued that, because of scientific essentialism, two currently popular arguments against the mind-body identity thesis -- the multiple-realizability argument and the Nagel-Jackson knowledge argument -- are unsatisfactory as they stand and that their problems are incurable. It is then argued that a refutation of the identity thesis in its full generality can be achieved by weaving together two traditional Cartesian arguments -- the modal argument and the certainty argument. This argument establishes, not just the falsity of the identity (...) thesis, but also the metaphysical possibility of disembodiment. (shrink)
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 Substance dualism is widely rejected by philosophers of mind, but many continue to accept some form of property dualism. The assumption here is that one can consistently believe that (1) mental properties are not physical properties, while denying that (2) mental particulars are not physical particulars. But is this assumption true? This paper considers several analyses of what makes something a physical particular (as opposed to a non-physical particular), and it is argued that on any plausible (...) analysis, accepting (1) requires accepting (2) as well. (shrink)
Ever since Davidson first articulated and defended anomalous monism, nonreductive physicalists have struggled with the problem of mental causation. Considerations about the causal closure of the physical domain and related principles about exclusion make it very difficult to maintain the distinctness of mental and physical properties while securing a causal role for the former. Recently, philosophers have turned their attention to the underlying metaphysics and ontology of the mental causation debate to gain traction on this issue. Cynthia (...) MacDonald and Graham MacDonald have followed suit and argue that the solution to the nonreductivist’s troubles lies in a particular metaphysical view of events. They claim that an appropriately formulated property exemplification account of events resolves the problem and secures the causal relevance of mental properties. I argue that while this approach might get us the causal efficacy of mental events, it does not provide the sought-after causal relevance of mental properties. I show that the reason MacDonald and MacDonald stumble on the problem of causal relevance is—ironically—due to features of their view of events. (shrink)
Nonreductive physicalism faces a serious objection: physicalism entails the existence of an enormous number of modal facts--specifically, facts about exactly which physical properties necessitate each mentalproperty; and, it seems, if mental properties are irreducible, these modal facts cannot all be satisfactorily explained. The only answer to this objection is to claim that the explanations of these modal facts are themselves contingent. This claim requires rejecting "S5" as the appropriate logic for metaphysical modality. Finally, it is argued (...) that rejecting "S5" is not too high a price to pay for nonreductive physicalism: "S5" should probably be rejected anyway. (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)
In this paper I will discuss Kims powerful explanatory exclusion argument against the causal efficacy of mental properties. Baker and Burge misconstrue Kims challenge if they understand it as being based on a purely metaphysical understanding of causation that has no grounding in an epistemological analysis of our successful scientific practices. As I will show, the emphasis on explanatory practices can only be effective in answering Kim if it is understood as being part of the dual-explanandum strategy. Furthermore, a (...) fundamental problem of the contemporary debate about mental causation consists in the fact that all sides take very different examples to be paradigmatic for the relation between psychological and neurobiological explanations. Even if we should expect some alignment in the explanatory scope of neurobiology and psychology/folk-psychology, there is no reason to expect that all mental explanations are exempted by physical explanations, since they do not in general explain the same phenomena. (shrink)
The paper defends Functionalism against the charge that it would make mental properties inefficacious. It outlines two ways of formulating the doctrine that mental properties are Functional properties and shows that both allow mental properties to be efficacious. The first (Lewis) approach takes functional properties to be the occupants of causal roles. Block  has argued that mental properties should not be characterized in this way because it would make them properties of the ?implementing science?, e. (...) g. neuroscience. I show why this is not a problem. The second way of formulating the doctrine takes functional properties to be causal role properties. I claim that mental properties so understood would only be inefficacious if a law-centred rather than a property-centred approach is adopted to the introduction of efficacy into the world. I develop a property-centred account that explains how mental properties can be efficacacious without introducing systematic overdetermination. At the close, I provide a better characterization of the difference between these two approaches and offer an explanation as to why my way of resolving the problems has been missed. (shrink)
In recent years Jaegwon Kim has offered an argument – the ‘supervenience argument’ – to show that supervenient mental properties, construed as second- order properties distinct from their first-order realizers, do not have causal powers of their own. In response, several philosophers have argued that if Kim’s argument is sound, it generalizes in such a way as to condemn to causal impotency all properties above the level of basic physics. This paper discusses Kim’s supervenience argument in the context of (...) his reply to this so-called ‘generalization argument’. In particular, the paper focuses on the level/order distinction, to which Kim appeals in his reply to the generalization argument, and on the relation between this distinction and two varieties of functionalism, ‘realizer’ vs. ‘role’ functionalism. The author argues that a proper analysis of the notions of levels and orders undermines Kim’s response to the generalization argument, and suggests that Kim’s reductionist strategy for vindicating the causal powers of mental properties is better served if mental properties are construed as first-order properties, as realizer-functionalism recommends. (shrink)
A well-known ``overdetermination''argument aims to show that the possibility of mental causes of physical events in a causally closed physical world and the possibility of causally relevant mental properties are both problematic. In the first part of this paper, I extend an identity reply that has been given to the first problem to a property-instance account of causal relata. In the second, I argue that mental types are composed of physical types and, as a consequence, both (...)mental and physical types may be causally relevant with respect to the same physical effect, contrary to the overdetermination argument. In further sections, I argue that mental types have causal powers, consider some objections and reject an alternative version of part-whole physicalism. Throughout I assume that causal relata are tropes and property types are classes of tropes. (shrink)
This paper tries to remove some obstacles standing in the way of considering mental properties as both genuine natural kinds and causally efficacious rather than epiphenomena. As the case of temperature shows, it is not justified to conclude from a property being multiply realizable to it being irreducible. Yet Kim's argument to the effect that if a property is multiply realizable with a heterogeneous reduction base then it cannot be a natural kind and possesses only derivative “epiphenomenal” (...) causal efficacy is not conclusive either. The fact that temperature is, but jade is not, a natural kind cannot be established by comparing the heterogeneity of their respective reduction bases, but rather by the fact that the former is and the latter is not embedded in laws of nature. (shrink)
One of Thomas Nagel’s premises in his argument for panpsychism (in Mortal Questions) is criticized. The principal criticisms are: (1) Nagel has failed to provide a clear sense in which mental properties are nonphysical. (2) Even within the framework of Nagel’s argumeent, there is no strong reason to think that the psychological lies outside the explanatory web of physical properties. This is because certain reducing properties common to both the psychological and nonpsychological may well be physical.
_metaphysically transparent_: we do not arrive at a better understanding of the realm of facts that make such talk true or false when we abandon ordinary mental concepts in favor of naturalistic concepts—or, for that matter, in favor of supernaturalistic concepts, although _super_naturalism will not be my concern here. Rather, it is ordinary mental concepts themselves that provide the best framework for understanding the metaphysics of mind. In this essay, I will be concerned just with naïve realism about (...)mental _properties_. 1 I will defend naïve realism first in relation to the view that mental properties are (ultimately) realized by fundamental physical properties (property-physicalism), and, second, in relation to the broader view that mental properties are realized by the non- rational properties of some natural science or other (property-naturalism).2 Plainly, the construction of an impenetrable defense of naïve realism would be a foolhardy ambition for a single essay. Ultimately, my aim here is thus significantly more modest: I hope just to show that naïve realism is a legitimate contender in the philosophy of mind, one which is for the most part completely overlooked, but which deserves serious consideration. (shrink)
In respect of the question whether mental properties, i.e. contents of mental states, are causally relevant the distinction between type and token physikalism and externalism and their consequences concerning the problems of property dualism and content epiphenomenalism are sketched. Fodor's theory - a functionalist version of token physikalism - is presented and criticized. Distinguishing between naming a causally relevant property and quantifying over it a solution to the threat of epihenomenalism is suggested, and finally Davidson's Anomalous (...) Monism is defended. (shrink)
Self-consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to functionalism. Either the standard functional definitions of mental relations wrongly require the contents of self-consciousness to be propositions involving.
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)
This paper argues that Twin Earth twins belong to the same psychological natural kind, but that the reason for this is not that the causal powers of mental states supervene on local neural structure. Fodor’s argument for this latter thesis is criticized and found to rest on a confusion between it and the claim that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect the causal powers of the mental states that have them. While it is true (...) that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect causal powers, it is false that no relational psychological properties do. Examples of relational psychological properties that do affect causal powers are given and psychological laws are sketched that subsume twins in virtue of them instantiating these relational properties rather than them sharing the narrow contents of their thoughts. (shrink)
It has been argued that nonreductive physicalism leads to epiphenominalism about mental properties: the view that mental events cannot cause behavioral effects by virtue of their mental properties. Recently, attempts have been made to develop accounts of causal relevance for irreducible properties to show that mental properties need not be epiphenomenal. In this paper, I primarily discuss the account of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit. I show how it can be developed to meet several obvious objections (...) and to capture our intuitive conception of degrees of causal relevance. However, I argue that the account requires large-scale miraculous coincidence for there to be causally relevant mental properties. I also argue that the same problem arises for two apparently very different accounts of causal relevance. I suggest that this result does not show that these accounts, on appropriate readings, are false. Therefore, I tentatively conclude that we have reason to believe that irreducible mental properties are causally irrelevant. Moreover, given that there is at leastprima facie evidence that mental properties can be causally relevant, my conclusion casts doubt on nonreductive physicalist theories of mental properties. (shrink)
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 mentalproperty 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 particular, a trope ontology. (shrink)
By what types of properties do we specify twinges, toothaches, and other kinds of mental states? Wittgenstein considers two methods. Procedure one, direct, private acquaintance: A person connects a word to the sensation it specifies through noticing what that sensation is like in his own experience. Procedure two, outward signs: A person pins his use of a word to outward, pre-verbal signs of the sensation. I identify and explain a third procedure and show we in fact specify many kinds (...) of mental states in this way. (shrink)
According to functionalism, mental state types consist solely in relations to inputs, outputs, and other mental states. I argue that two central claims of a prominent and plausible type of scientific realism conflict with the functionalist position. These claims are that natural kinds in a mature science are not reducible to natural kinds in any other, and that all dispositional features of natural kinds can be explained at the type-level. These claims, when applied to psychology, have the consequence (...) that at least some mental state types consist not merely in relations to inputs, outputs, and other mental states, but also in nonrelational properties that play a role in explaining functional relations. Consequently, a scientific realist of the sort I describe must reject functionalism. (shrink)
The by now famous exclusion problem for mental causation admits only one possible solution, as far as I can see, namely: that mental and physical properties are linked by a vertical relation. In this paper, starting from what I take to be sensible premises about properties, I will be visiting some general relations between them, in order to see whether, first, it is true that some vertical relation, other than identity, makes different sorts of causation compatible and second, (...) whether physical and mental properties can be pairs of such relation. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in property dualism—the view that some mental properties are neither identical with, nor strongly supervenient on, physical properties. One of the principal objections to this view is that, according to natural science, the physical world is a causally closed system. So if mental properties are really distinct from physical properties, then it would seem that mental properties never really cause anything that happens in the physical world. (...) Thus, dualism threatens to lead inexorably to epiphenomenalism. In this paper, I will argue that the only way for a property dualist to avoid epiphenomenalism is to deny that the human body is strictly identical with the sum of its microphysical parts. I will go on to argue that the only way to sustain such anti-reductionism about the human body is to embrace some sort of substance-hylomorphism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend a version of nonreductive materialism against the epiphenomenalist objection to which Davidson's anomalous monism has often been held to be vulnerable. After considering a number of options for dealing with the objection, I argue that an appeal to the notion of strong supervenience (properly explicated) can both rebut a common form of the "property" ("type") epiphenomenalist objection and provide a grounding for the causal relevance ("efficacy") of mental properties.
The by now famous exclusion problem for mental causation admits only one possible solution, as far as I can see, namely: that mental and physical properties are linked by a vertical relation. In this paper, starting from what I take to be sensible premises about properties, I will be visiting some general relations between them, in order to see whether, first, it is true that some vertical relationship, other than identity, makes different sorts of causation compatible and second, (...) whether physical and mental properties can be pairs of such relationship. (shrink)
This dissertation examines psychiatry from a philosophy of science perspective, focusing on issues of realism and classification. Questions addressed in the dissertation include: What evidence is there for the reality of mental disorders? Are any mental disorders natural kinds? When are disease explanations of abnormality warranted? How should mental disorders be classified? -/- In addressing issues concerning the reality of mental disorders, I draw on the accounts of realism defended by Ian Hacking and William Wimsatt, arguing (...) that biological research on mental disorders supports the inference that some mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders) are real theoretical entities, and that the evidence supporting this inference is causal and abductive. In explicating the nature of such entities, I argue that real mental disorders are natural kinds insofar as they are natural classes of abnormal behavior whose members share the same causal structure. I present this position in terms of Richard Boyd’s homeostatic cluster property theory of natural kinds, and argue that this perspective reveals limitations of Hacking’s account on the looping effects of human kinds, which suggests that the objects classified by psychiatrists are unstable entities. I subsequently argue that a subset of mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and Down syndrome) are mental illnesses insofar as they are disorders caused by a dysfunctional biological process that leads to harmful consequences for individuals. I present this analysis against Thomas Szasz’s argument that mental illness is a myth. -/- In addressing issues of psychiatric classification, my analysis focuses on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which has been published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association since 1952, and is currently in its fourth edition. After examining the history of DSM in the twentieth century, and in particular, DSM’s shift to an atheoretical and purely descriptive system in the 1980s, I consider the relative merits of descriptive versus causal systems of classification. Drawing on Carl Hempel’s analysis of taxonomic systems in psychiatry, I argue that a causal classification system would provide a superior approach to psychiatric classification than the descriptive system currently favored by DSM. (shrink)
Non-reductive physicalists are increasingly regarded as unwitting epiphenomenalists, since their refusal to reduce mental features to physical properties allegedly implies that while there are mental causes, none of these causes produces its effects in virtue of being the type of mental state that it is. I examine, and reject, the “trope” response to this charge. I take the failure of the trope model of causal relevance to be instructive, since it illustrates a confusion that lies at the (...) heart of the concept of causal relevance, a concept that is central to the criticism of non-reductive physicalism. By identifying this confusion, I hope to dispel the notion that non-reductive physicalism carries any commitment to epiphenomenalism. (shrink)
A common conception of what it is for one property to “realize” another suggests that it is the realizer property that does the causal work, and that the realized property is epiphenomenal. The same conception underlies George Bealer’s argument that functionalism leads to the absurd conclusion that what we take to be self-ascriptions of a mental state are really self-ascriptions of “first-order” properties that realize that state. This paper argues for a different concept of realization. A (...)property realizes another if its “forward looking” causal features are a subset of those of the property realized. The instantiation of the realizer property will include the instantiation of the property realized; and when the effects produced are due to the causal features of the latter, it is the instantiation of it that is appropriately regarded as their cause. Epiphenomenalism is avoided, and so is Bealer’s absurd conclusion. (shrink)
This paper tries to show that Kims strategy of preventing the problem of generalization of mental causation is not successful and that his original supervenience argument can be applied to cases of nonmental macrolevel causation, with the effect that nonmental macroproperties which only supervene on, but are not identical with, configurations of microproperties turn out to be epiphenomenal after all.
In the ongoing debate, there are a set of mind-body theories sharing a certain physicalist assumption: whenever a genuine cause produces an effect, the causal efficacy of each of the nonphysical properties that participate in that process is determined by the instantiation of a well-defined set of physical properties. These theories would then insist that a nonphysical property could only be causally efficacious insofar as it is physically implemented. However, in what follows we will argue against the idea that (...) fine-grained mental contents could be physically implemented in the way that functional properties are. Therefore, we will examine the metaphysical conditions under which the implementing mechanism of a particular instance of a functional property may be individuated, and see how genuine beliefs and desires—insofar as they track the world—cannot meet such conditions. (shrink)
In an article entitled ?The Ontological Status of Mental Images?, Robert Audi rejects the view presented in Hannay's Mental Images: A Defence, and proposes ?the property account of imaging? as an alternative. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of Audi's proposal are discussed, and a more detailed and specific version of the property account offered; it is suggested that imaging ? should be described as entertaining the thought that if one were looking at (or smelling, touching, (...) hearing, etc.) x, things would appear ? (shrink)
Functional reductionism concerning mental properties has recently been advocated by Jaegwon Kim in order to solve the problem of the 'causal exclusion' of the mental. Adopting a reductionist strategy first proposed by David Lewis, he regards psychological properties as being 'higher-order' properties functionally defined over 'lower-order' properties, which are causally efficacious. Though functional reductionism is compatible with the multiple realizability of psychological properties, it is blocked if psychological properties are subdivided or crosscut by neurophysiological properties. I argue that (...) there is recent evidence from cognitive neuroscience that shows that this is the case for the psychological property of fear. Though this may suggest that some psychological properties should be revised in order to conform to those of neurophysiology, the history of science demonstrates that this is not always the outcome, particularly with properties that play an important role in our folk theories and are central to human concerns. (shrink)
The functionalist conception of mental properties, together with their multiple realizability, is often taken to entail their irreducibility. It might seem that the only way to revise that judgement is to weaken the requirements traditionally imposed on reduction. However, Jaegwon Kim has recently argued that we should, on the contrary, strengthen those requirements, and construe reduction as what I propose to call “logical reduction”, a model of reduction inspired by emergentism. Moreover, Kim claims that what he calls “functional reduction” (...) allows one to reduce (at least some) mental properties by these new standards. I argue against both theses. First, I present a counterexample to the emergentist model of reduction: The model judges irreducible certain properties which are clearly reducible. Second, I contestthat functional reduction as construed by Kim satisfies the emergentist constraints. Functional reduction implies, over and above a functional definition of the reduced property, the indication of its realizers. But the latter information corresponding to the discovery of a (local) bridge law, is empirical and not purely logical. (shrink)
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 the identity theory, at least from this problem. Such an ontology identifies a mentalproperty’s mental and physical “natures” with just the property itself. A mentalproperty is, at once, both wholly mental and wholly physical, so that to causally engage the physical nature of a mentalproperty is to engage its mental nature as well. (shrink)
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)