An Idle Threat: Epiphenomenalism Exposed

Dissertation, University of Toronto (1999)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

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

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Anomalous Monism and Epiphenomenalism.Rex Welshon - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (1):103-120.
Semifactuals and Epiphenomenalism.Danilo Suster - 2001 - Acta Analytica 16 (26):23-43.
Is There a Problem in Physicalist Epiphenomenalism?Amir Horowitz - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):421-34.
Emergence and Causal Powers.Graham Macdonald - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (2):239 - 253.
On Davidson's Response to the Charge of Epiphenomenalism.Brian P. McLaughlin - 1992 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
Program Explanations and Causal Relevance.Sven Walter - 2005 - Acta Analytica 20 (36):32-47.
Phenomenal Judgment and Mental Causation.Anthony J. Rudd - 2000 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (6):53-69.
Taking Realization Seriously: No Cure for Epiphobia. [REVIEW]Sven Walter - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):207 - 226.
The Properties of Mental Causation.David Robb - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):178-94.
Mental Causation: Realization and Reduction.Chang-Seong Hong - 2000 - Dissertation, Brown University
Exclusion, Overdetermination, and Vacuity.Daniel Lim - 2011 - Southwest Philosophy Review 27 (1):57-64.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
407 (#26,321)

6 months
11 (#74,266)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Paul Raymont
University of Toronto at Mississauga

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Clarendon Press. pp. 207-224.
Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Causality and Properties.Sydney Shoemaker - 1980 - In Peter van Inwagen (ed.), Time and Cause. D. Reidel. pp. 109-35.
Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.

View all 37 references / Add more references