Kim’s dilemma: why mental causation is not productive

Synthese 193 (7):2185-2203 (2016)

Authors
Andrew Russo
University of Oklahoma
Abstract
Loewer has argued that the nonreductive physicalist should respond to the exclusion problem by endorsing the overdetermination entailed by their view. Kim’s argument against this reply is based on the premise that mental causation must be a productive relation in order to sustain human agency. In this paper, I challenge the premise that mental causation is a productive relation 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 is not productive. This places Kim in a troublesome dilemma in his debate with Loewer: 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 accepting overdetermination remain viable options for the nonreductive physicalist.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0837-7
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