Mental Causation via Neuroprosthetics? A Critical Analysis

Synthese (12):5159-5174 (2018)
Tuomas K. Pernu
King's College London
Some recent arguments defending the genuine causal efficacy of the mental have been relying on empirical research on neuroprosthetics. This essay presents a critical analysis of these arguments. The problem of mental causation, and the basic idea and results of neuroprosthetics are reviewed. It is shown how appealing to the research on neuroprosthetics can be interpreted to give support to the idea of mental causation. However, it does so only in a rather deflationary sense: by holding the mental identical with the neural. So contrary to what the arguments have been assuming, neuroprosthetics cannot be used to argue for nonreductive physicalism. It can rather be taken to illustrate just the opposite: how the mental and the physical are identical.
Keywords Action control  Brain-computer interface  Causal exclusion  Difference-making  Interventionism  Multiple realisability
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1713-z
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