Russellian monism and mental causation

Noûs 55 (2):409-425 (2021)
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Abstract

According to Russellian monism, consciousness is constituted at least partly by quiddities: intrinsic properties that categorically ground dispositional properties described by fundamental physics. If the theory is true, then consciousness and such dispositional properties are closely connected. But how closely? The contingency thesis says that the connection is contingent. For example, on this thesis the dispositional property associated with negative charge might have been categorically grounded by a quiddity that is distinct from the one that actually grounds it. Some argue that Russellian monism entails the contingency thesis and that this makes its consciousness‐constituting quiddities epiphenomenal—a disastrous outcome for a theory that is motivated partly by its prospects for integrating consciousness into physical causation. We consider two versions of that argument, a generic version and an intriguing version developed by Robert J. Howell, which he bases on Jaegwon Kim's well‐known “exclusion argument.” We argue that neither succeeds.

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Author Profiles

Sam Coleman
University of Hertfordshire
Torin Alter
University of Alabama

References found in this work

Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
The Combination Problem for Panpsychism.David Chalmers - 2017 - In Brüntrup Godehard & Jaskolla Ludwig (eds.), Panpsychism. Oxford University Press.

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