Kim’s dilemma: why mental causation is not productive

Synthese (2015)

Authors
Andrew Russo
University of Oklahoma
Abstract
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
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0837-7
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Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.

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