Causation in the argument for anomalous monism

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):183-226 (1998)
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Donald Davidson has two central aims in his celebrated paper ‘Mental Events.’ First, he argues for the impossibility of ‘strict … laws on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained’. I shall call the resulting view ‘mental anomalism.’ Second, he argues, based partially on this impossibility, for a version of monism which holds that every mental event is token-identical with some physical event. This second aim puts constraints on how the argument for mental anomalism can plausibly proceed. That argument cannot assume anything that presupposes monism or adversely affects the argument for it. When elaborated, this constraint by itself rules out otherwise attractive conceptions of how the argument for mental anomalism works. More generally, in order to be compelling, the overall argument for anomalous monism ought not to incorporate excessively controversial presuppositions even if they do not themselves beg any questions about monism. The argument needs to be built upon relatively intuitive premises.



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Steven Yalowitz
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Citations of this work

Anomalous monism.Steven Yalowitz - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Davidson and kim on Psychophysical Laws.Noa Latham - 1999 - Synthese 118 (2):121-143.
Davidson's social externalism.Steven Yalowitz - 1999 - Philosophia 27 (1-2):99-136.
Anomalism and supervenience: A critical survey.Oron Shagrir - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):pp. 237-272.

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References found in this work

Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Epistemology Naturalized.W. V. Quine - 1969 - In Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York: Columbia University Press.
Knowing One’s Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
Making mind matter more.Jerry A. Fodor - 1989 - Philosophical Topics 17 (11):59-79.

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