Kim’s dilemma: why mental causation is not productive

Synthese (2015)

Andrew Russo
University of Oklahoma
Barry Loewer (2001, 2002, 2007) has argued that the nonreductive physicalist should respond to the exclusion problem by endorsing the overdetermination entailed by their view. Jaegwon Kim’s (2005, 2007) argument against this reply is based on the premise that mental causation is a productive relation involving the “flow” or “transfer” of some conserved quantity from cause to effect. In this paper, I challenge this premise by appealing to the underlying double prevention structure of the physiological mechanisms of human action. Since the causal pathways from an agent’s mental events to bodily movement involves an absence, mental causation cannot be productive. Kim therefore faces a troublesome dilemma: either surrender mental causation or deny that causation is a productive relation. With the support offered for productive mental causation undermined, responses to the exclusion problem based on accounts that allow for non-productive causation remain viable options for the nonreductive physicalist.
Keywords Mental causation  Exclusion problem  Overdetermination  Negative causation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0837-7
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 41,553
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.

View all 45 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Defense of Nonreductive Mental Causation.Andrew Russo - 2013 - Dissertation, The University of Oklahoma
Overdetermination, Counterfactuals, and Mental Causation.Chiwook Won - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (2):205-229.
Overdetermination And The Exclusion Problem.Brandon Carey - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):251-262.
Causation is Macroscopic but Not Irreducible.David Papineau - 2013 - In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 126.
Substance Causation, Powers, and Human Agency.E. J. Lowe - 2013 - In S. C. Gibb, E. J. Lowe & R. D. Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford Up. pp. 153--172.
A Nonreductivist Solution to Mental Causation.Amie L. Thomasson - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (2-3):181-95.
Grounding Mental Causation.Thomas Kroedel & Moritz Schulz - 2016 - Synthese 193 (6):1909-1923.
Mental Causation as Teleological Causation.Andrew Jaeger - 2011 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 85:161-171.
Counterfactuals, Overdetermination and Mental Causation.Simona Aimar - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):469-477.
The Experience of Mental Causation.Jakob Hohwy - 2004 - Behavior and Philosophy 32 (2):377 - 400.
Intralevel Mental Causation.Andrei A. Buckareff - 2011 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (3):402-425.
Mental Causation.Holly Andersen - 2015 - In N. Levy J. Clausen (ed.), Springer Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer.


Added to PP index

Total views
58 ( #135,468 of 2,248,942 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #125,367 of 2,248,942 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature