Causal Relevance and the Mental: Towards a Non-Reductive Metaphysics

Dissertation, Mcgill University (Canada) (1997)
Abstract
My aim in this thesis is to explain how a non-reductionist metaphysics can accommodate the causal relevance of the psychological and of the special sciences generally. According to physicalism, all behavior is caused by brain-states; given "folk-psychology", behavior is caused by some psychological state. If psychological states are distinct from brain states , then our behavior is overdetermined and this, it is claimed, is unacceptable. I argue that this consequence is not unacceptable. I claim that our explanatory practice should guide our ontological commitment. If we can offer true explanations that appeal to more than one event , then we are committed to overdetermination for the event explained. I argue that accepting overdetermination is not absurd and that we can give an adequate account of causal relevance for psychological and other supervenient properties. The result is a partial defense of both property and event pluralism. Recent work by Davidson, Fodor, Jackson, Kim, Pettit and Yablo receives explicit and critical discussion
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