My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mentalcausation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mentalcausation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where (...) physical reality consists of a network of events.1 The second concerns the nature of causation, and the third concerns the conception of behavior. I try to vindicate a robust idea of mentalcausation. (shrink)
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 mentalcausation must be a productive relation in order to sustain human agency. In this paper, I challenge the premise that mentalcausation 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, mentalcausation is not productive. This places Kim in a troublesome dilemma in his debate with Loewer: either surrender mentalcausation or deny that causation is a productive relation. With the support offered for productive mentalcausation undermined, responses to the exclusion problem based on accepting overdetermination remain viable options for the nonreductive physicalist. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mentalcausation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate (...) relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
The paper argues that dualism can explain mentalcausation and solve the exclusion problem. If dualism is combined with the assumption that the psychophysical laws have a special status, it follows that some physical events counterfactually depend on, and are therefore caused by, mental events. Proponents of this account of mentalcausation can solve the exclusion problem in either of two ways: they can deny that it follows that the physical effect of a mental (...) event is overdetermined by its mental and physical causes, or they can accept that the physical effect is overdetermined but claim that this is unproblematic because the case is sufficiently dissimilar to prototypical cases of overdetermination. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim’s views on mentalcausation and the exclusion argument are evaluated systematically. Particular attention is paid to different theories of causation. It is argued that the exclusion argument and its premises do not cohere well with any systematic view of causation.
This paper argues that the exclusion problem for mentalcausation can be solved by a variant of non-reductive physicalism that takes the mental not merely to supervene on, but to be grounded in, the physical. A grounding relation between events can be used to establish a principle that links the causal relations of grounded events to those of grounding events. Given this principle, mental events and their physical grounds either do not count as overdetermining physical effects, (...) or they do so in a way that is not objectionable. (shrink)
This paper explores and defends the idea that mental properties and their physical bases jointly cause their physical effects. The paper evaluates the view as an emergentist response to the exclusion problem, comparing it with a competing nonreductive physicalist solution, the compatibilist solution, and argues that the joint causation view is more defensible than commonly supposed. Specifically, the paper distinguishes two theses of closure, Strong Closure and Weak Closure, two causal exclusion problems, the overdetermination problem and the supervenience (...) problem, and argues that emergentists can avoid the overdetermination problem by denying Strong Closure and respond to the supervenience problem by accepting the joint causation view. (shrink)
This paper is about a puzzle which lies at the heart of contemporary physicalist theories of mind. On the one hand, the original motivation for physicalism was the need to explain the place of mentalcausation in the physical world. On the other hand, physicalists have recently come to see the explanation of mentalcausation as one of their major problems. But how can this be? How can it be that physicalist theories still have a problem (...) explaining something which their physicalism was intended to explain in the first place? If physicalism is meant to be an explanation of mentalcausation, then why should it still face the problem of mentalcausation? (shrink)
The overdetermination problem has long been raised as a challenge to nonreductive physicalism. Nonreductive physicalists have, in various ways, tried to resolve the problem through appeal to counterfactuals. This essay does two things. First, it takes up the question whether counterfactuals can yield an appropriate notion of causal redundancy and argues for a negative answer. Second, it examines how this issue bears on the mentalcausation debate. In particular, it considers the argument that the overdetermination problem simply does (...) not arise on a dependency conception of causation and shows why this idea, though initially appealing, does not address the real problem. As the essay shows, the idea derives its spurious plausibility from the fact that the dependency conception cannot even make sense of our pretheoretic idea of causal redundancy. The essay concludes by briefly discussing a possible picture of mentalcausation that suggests itself in light of these results. (shrink)
Our minds have physical effects. This happens, for instance, when we move our bodies when we act. How is this possible? Thomas Kroedel defends an account of mentalcausation in terms of difference-making: if our minds had been different, the physical world would have been different; therefore, the mind causes events in the physical world. His account not only explains how the mind has physical effects at all, but solves the exclusion problem - the problem of how those (...) effects can have both mental and physical causes. It is also unprecedented in scope, because it is available to dualists about the mind as well as physicalists, drawing on traditional views of causation as well as on the latest developments in the field of causal modelling. It will be of interest to a range of readers in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. This book is also available as Open Access. (shrink)
Non-Cartesian substance dualism maintains that persons or selves are distinct from their organic physical bodies and any parts of those bodies. It regards persons as ‘substances’ in their own right, but does not maintain that persons are necessarily separable from their bodies, in the sense of being capable of disembodied existence. In this paper, it is urged that NCSD is better equipped than either Cartesian dualism or standard forms of physicalism to explain the possibility of mentalcausation. A (...) model of mentalcausation adopting the NCSD perspective is proposed which, it is argued, is consistent with all that is currently known about the operations of the human central nervous system, including the brain. Physicalism, by contrast, seems ill-equipped to explain the distinctively intentional or teleological character of mentalcausation, because it effectively reduces all such causation to ‘blind’ physical causation at a neurological level. (shrink)
Nonreductive physicalism states that actions have sufficient physical causes and distinct mental causes. Nonreductive physicalism has recently faced the exclusion problem, according to which the single sufficient physical cause excludes the mental causes from causal efficacy. Autonomists respond by stating that while mental-to-physical causation fails, mental-to-mentalcausation persists. Several recent philosophers establish this autonomy result via similar models of causation :1031–1049, 2016; Zhong, J Philos 111:341–360, 2014). In this paper I argue that (...) both of these autonomist models fail on account of the problem of Edwards’s Dictum. However, I appeal to foundational principles of action theory to resuscitate mental-to-mentalcausation in a manner that is consistent with the models of causation endorsed by these autonomists. (shrink)
The Exclusion Problem for mentalcausation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination : if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that (...) if an effect has two sufficient causes, it is overdetermined. If sound, her argument does two things: it solves EP, and it shows how to use counterfactuals in order to make the notion of overdetermination precise. However, the argument is not sound. (shrink)
Empirical evidence, it has often been argued, undermines our commonsense assumptions concerning the efficacy of conscious intentions. One of the most influential advocates of this challenge has been Daniel Wegner, who has presented an impressive amount of evidence in support of a model of "apparent mentalcausation". According to Wegner, this model provides the best explanation of numerous curious and pathological cases of behavior. Further, it seems that Benjamin Libet's classic experiment on the initiation of action and the (...) empirical evidence concerning the confabulation of reason explanations provide further support for this view. In response, I will propose an alternative model of "real mentalcausation" that can accommodate the empirical evidence just as well as Wegner's. Further, we will see that there is plenty of evidence in support of the assumption that intentions are causally efficacious. This will provide us with ample reason to endorse the model of real mentalcausation. (shrink)
The paper argues that mentalcausation can be explained from the sufficiency of counterfactual dependence for causation together with relatively weak assumptions about the metaphysics of mind. If a physical event counterfactually depends on an earlier physical event, it also counterfactually depends on, and hence is caused by, a mental event that correlates with (or supervenes on) this earlier physical event, provided that this correlation (or supervenience) is sufficiently modally robust. This account of mental (...) class='Hi'>causation is consistent with the overdetermination of physical events by mental events and other physical events, but does not entail it. (shrink)
Many philosophers nowadays take for granted a causalist view of action explanation, according to which intentional action is a movement caused by mental antecedents. For them, “the possibility of human agency evidently requires that our mental states – our beliefs, desires, and intentions – have causal effects in the physical world: in voluntary actions our beliefs and desires, or intentions and decisions, must somehow cause our limbs to move in appropriate ways” (Jaegwon Kim, Mind in a Physical World, (...) Cambridge (MA), MIT Press, 2000 (1998), p. 31). The main question then is not to know whether there is mentalcausation at all, but how we should account for it. How can the mind move our body? In her 1983 paper, “The Causation of Action”, Elizabeth Anscombe shows how confused this way of putting things is. For her, if intentions or beliefs can indeed be taken to be causes of action, it is not in any metaphysically problematic sense. Seeing this requires us to distinguish clearly two theses: (1) “to be done in execution of a certain intention” is not a causal relation between intention and action; (2) an intention may be said to cause something: but this pertains to a specific kind of causal history, different from that which is uncovered by physical enquiry. First we will show how the metaphysical problem of mentalcausation arises from a given conception of action. Then we will turn to Anscombe’s arguments in favour of the two aforementioned theses. (shrink)
The argument from causal closure of the physical is usually considered the most powerful argument in favor of the ontological doctrine of physicalism. Many authors, most notably Papineau, assume that CCP implies that physicalism is supported by physics. I demonstrate, however, that physical science has no bias in the ontological debate between proponents of physicalism and dualism. I show that the arguments offered for CCP are effective only against the accounts of mentalcausation based on the action of (...) the mental forces of a Newtonian nature, i.e. those which manifest themselves by causing accelerations. However, it is conceivable and possible that mentalcausation is manifested through the redistribution of energy, momentum and other conserved quantities in the system, brought about by altering the state probability distribution within the living system and leading to anomalous correlations of neural processes. After arguing that a probabilistic, interactionist model of mentalcausation is conceivable, which renders the argument from causal closure of the physical ineffective, I point to some basic features that such a model must have in order to be intelligible. At the same time, I indicate the way that conclusive testing of CCP can be done within the theoretical framework of physics. (shrink)
<b> </b>Abstract: It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mentalcausation is posed by the causal self-sufficiency of physical causal processes. I argue, however, that this feature of the world, which I articulate in principle I call Completeness, in fact poses no genuine threat to mentalcausation. Some find Completeness threatening to mentalcausation because they confuse it with a stronger principle, which I call Closure. Others do not (...) simply conflate Completeness and Closure, but hold that Completeness, together with certain plausible assumptions, _entails_ Closure. I refute the most fully worked-out version of such an argument. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mentalcausation. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mentalcausation. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mentalcausation. (shrink)
Attempts to provide a thoroughly naturalized reading of the doctrine of karma have raised important issues regarding its role in the overall economy of the Buddhist soteriological project. This paper identifies some of the most problematic aspects of a naturalized interpretation of karma: (1) the strained relationship between retributive action and personal identity, and (2) the debate concerning mentalcausation in modern reductionist accounts of persons. The paper explores the benefits of a phenomenological approach in which reductionist accounts (...) of karma are replaced with accounts that interpret virtuous and compassionate actions as emergent properties of consciousness that can be further enhanced through socialization. (shrink)
The problem of mentalcausation is discussed by taking into account some recent developments in the philosophy of science. The problem is viewed from the perspective of the new interventionist theory of causation developed by Woodward. The import of the idea that causal claims involve contrastive classes in mentalcausation is also discussed. It is argued that mentalcausation is much less a problem than it has appeared to be.
This book lies at the intersection of philosophy of religion and philosophy of mind. It combines issues regarding divine action and mentalcausation. In particular, by using Jaegwon Kim's Causal Exclusion Argument as a foil, it explores possible ways of making sense of divine action in relation to some recent non-reductive physicalist strategies for vindicating mentalcausation. These insights are then applied to an argument for the existence of God based on the nature of phenomenal consciousness.
The problem of mentalcausation in contemporary philosophy of mind concerns the possibility of holding two different views that are in apparent tension. The first is physicalism, the view that there is nothing more to the world than the physical. The second is that the mental has genuine causal efficacy in a way that does not reduce to pure physical particle-bumping. This article provides a historical background to this question, with focus on Davidson’s anomalous monism and Kim’s (...) causal exclusion problem. Responses to causal exclusion are categorized in terms of six different argumentative strategies. In conclusion, caution is advised regarding the inclination to reduce the mental to the physical and sketch a positive direction for substantively characterizing mentalcausation by recourse to well-confirmed accounts of causation coupled with empirical research. (shrink)
Despite Spinoza’s reputation as a thoroughgoing critic of teleology, in recent years a number of scholars have argued convincingly that Spinoza does not wish to eliminate teleological explanations altogether. Recent interpretative debates have focused on a more recalcitrant problem: whether Spinoza has the resources to allow for the causal efficacy of representational content. In this paper I present the problem of mentalcausation for Spinoza and consider two recent attempts to respond to the problem on Spinoza’s behalf. While (...) these interpretations certainly shed some light on Spinoza’s account of cognitive economy, I argue that both fail to point the way out of the problem because they fail to differentiate between two forms of representation, one of which is causally efficacious, one of which is not. I close by suggesting that there is some reason to believe that Spinoza’s account of mind avoids some of the problems typically associated with mentalcausation. (shrink)
Suppose that, for every event, whether mental or physical, there is some physical event causally sufficient for it. Suppose, moreover, that physical reductionism in its various forms fails—that mental properties cannot be reduced to physical properties and mental events cannot be reduced to physical events. In this case, how could there be mentalcausation? More specifically, how could mental events cause other mental events, physical events, and intentional actions? The primary goal of this (...) paper is to answer this question. (shrink)
Despite the fact that the nature of the properties of causation is rarely discussed within the mentalcausation debate, the implicit assumption is that they are universals as opposed to tropes. However, in recent literature on the problem of mentalcausation, a new solution has emerged which aims to address the problem by appealing to tropes. It is argued that if the properties of causation are tropes rather than universals, then a psychophysical reductionism can (...) be advanced which does not face the problem of multiple realizability. However, the 'trope solution' rests upon the assumption that one can combine a trope monism with a type dualism. I argue that such a combination cannot be allowed. Given a plausible interpretation of types within a trope ontology, trope monism in fact entails type monism. Consequently, if one identifies mental tropes with physical tropes, one must also identify mental and physical types and in doing so face a modified version of the multiple realizability argument. (shrink)
This is an introduction to mentalcausation. It is written primarily for students new to the topic. The chapter is organized around the following argument: P1. Everything we do is caused by biochemical processes within our bodies and brains. P2. If everything we do is caused by biochemical processes within our bodies and brains, then nothing we do has a mental cause. C. Therefore, nothing we do has a mental cause.
Nonreductive physicalists endorse autonomous mentalcausation, the view that mental causes, as distinct from physical causes, bring about mental and physical effects. The causal exclusion problem has recently pressured nonreductive physicalists to replace autonomous mentalcausation with reduced mentalcausation, the view that mental causes, as physical causes, bring about mental and physical effects. Reduced mentalcausation, in turn, faces the problem of mental quausation, according to which (...) reduced mentalcausation only delivers mental‐as‐physical causation, not the requisite mental‐as‐mentalcausation. Proponents of reduced mentalcausation have responded by emphasizing the success of reduction in delivering mentalcausation, while questioning the metaphysical legitimacy of mental quausation (Tiehen, 2019; Gibb, 2017; Robb, 2017; 2013).1 In this paper, I argue that the requirement for mental quausation not only withstands these objections, but that mental quausation is an inevitable problematic for any version of reduced mentalcausation. (shrink)
In this paper I do three things. First, I argue that Stephen Yablo’s influential account of mentalcausation is susceptible to counterexamples involving what I call disproportional mentalcausation. Second, I argue that similar counterexamples can be generated for any alternative account of mentalcausation that is like Yablo’s in that it takes mental states and their physical realizers to causally compete. Third, I show that there are alternative nonreductive approaches to mental (...)causation which reject the idea of causal competition, and which thus are able to allow for disproportional mentalcausation. This, I argue, is a significant advantage for such noncompetitive accounts. (shrink)
The by now famous exclusion problem for mentalcausation admits only one possible solution, as far as I can see, namely: that mental and physical properties are linked by a vertical relation. In this paper, starting from what I take to be sensible premises about properties, I will be visiting some general relations between them, in order to see whether, first, it is true that some vertical relation, other than identity, makes different sorts of causation compatible (...) and second, whether physical and mental properties can be pairs of such relation. (shrink)
I look at some central positions in the mentalcausation debate – reductionism, emergentism, and nonreductive physicalism – on the hypothesis that mentalcausation is intelligible. On this hypothesis, mental causes and their effects are internally related so that they intelligibly “fit”, analogous to the way puzzle pieces interlock, or shades of red fall into order within a color sphere. The assumption of intelligibility has what I take to be a welcome consequence: deciding among rivals (...) in the mentalcausation debate could end up to be largely an empirical matter. (shrink)
E.J. Lowe has recently proposed a model of mentalcausation on which mental events are emergent, thus exerting a novel, downward causal influence on physical events. Yet on Lowe's model, mentalcausation is at the same time empirically undetectable, and in this sense is "invisible". Lowe's model is ingenious, but I don't think emergentists should welcome it, for it seems to me that a primary virtue of emergentism is its bold empirical prediction about the long-term (...) results of human physiology. Here I'll try to restore emergentism's empirical status, but my broader aim is to use Lowe's model to explore some central topics in the mentalcausation debate, including the "causal closure" of the physical world and the nature of causal powers. (shrink)
We argue that embedded cognition provides an argument against Jaegwon Kim’s neural reduction of mentalcausation. Because some mental, or at least psychological processes have to be cast in an externalist way, Kim’s argument can be said to lead to the conclusion that mentalcausation is as safe as any other form of higher-level of causation.
This paper identifies and critiques a theory of mentalcausation defended by some proponents of nonredutive physicalism that I call “intralevelism.” Intralevelist theories differ in their details. On all versions, the causal outcome of the manifestation of physical properties is physical and the causal outcome of the manifestation of mental properties is mental. Thus, mentalcausation on this view is intralevel mental to mentalcausation. This characterization of mentalcausation (...) as intralevel is taken to insulate nonreductive physicalism from some objections to nonreductive physicalism, including versions of the exclusion argument. This paper examines some features of three recent versions of intralevelism defended by John Gibbons, Markus Schlosser, and Amie Thomasson. This paper shows that the distinctive problems faced by these three representative versions of intralevelism suggest that the intralevelist strategy does not provide a viable solution to the exclusion problem. (shrink)
Mentalcausation occurs when mental entities cause other mental and physical entities: seeings causing believings, itches causing scratchings, headaches causing eye twitches, and so on. The term “mentalcausation” is most often used to refer to the problem of mentalcausation, which is really a collection of problems with each possessing its own character and tradition of debate. The problem of mentalcausation began in earnest with an objection to Cartesian (...) dualism raised by Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia (how can immaterial minds causally interact with material bodies?) and still persists via a series of different objections raised against various views including non-reductive physicalism, anomalous monism, and psychological externalism. What unites the different problems of mentalcausation is their attempt to address a question of this general form: is model x of the non-causal mental-physical relationship (e.g., non-reductive physicalism) consistent with there being mentalcausation? A negative answer is usually taken to constitute a fatal objection to model x, but not always. There have been two major avenues of inquiry since Elizabeth’s original objection began the debate: (a) what theories of causation can tell us about the consistency of model x with mentalcausation; or (b) what theories about the non-causal mental-physical relationship can tell us about the consistency of model x with mentalcausation. Nearly every contribution in the literature on the problem of mentalcausation can be understood as belonging in either category (a) or (b), or as containing distinguishable elements which so belong. The most important discussions about mentalcausation have taken place over the last few decades, hence this entry will focus largely on work conducted in that period. Mentalcausation is also discussed in other areas of philosophy, such as political philosophy or ethics, but this entry will be primarily concerned with the metaphysical and philosophy of mind literature. (shrink)
Dynamical systems theory (DST) is gaining popularity in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Recently several authors (e.g. J.A.S. Kelso, 1995; A. Juarrero, 1999; F. Varela and E. Thompson, 2001) offered a DST approach to mentalcausation as an alternative for models of mentalcausation in the line of Jaegwon Kim (e.g. 1998). They claim that some dynamical systems exhibit a form of global to local determination or downward causation in that the large-scale, global activity (...) of the system governs or constrains local interactions. This form of downward causation is the key to the DST model of mentalcausation. In this paper I evaluate the DST approach to mentalcausation. I will argue that the main problem for current DST approaches to mentalcausation is that they lack a clear metaphysics. I propose one metaphysical framework (Gillett, 2002a/b/c) that might deal with this deficiency. (shrink)
Peter Menzies has developed a novel version of the exclusion principle that he claims to be compatible with the possibility of mentalcausation. Menzies proposes to frame the exclusion principle in terms of a difference-making account of causation, understood in counterfactual terms. His new exclusion principle appears in two formulations: upwards exclusion — which is the familiar case in which a realizing event causally excludes the event that it realizes — and, more interestingly, downward exclusion, in which (...) an event causally excludes its realizer. This paper shows that one consequence of Menzies’s proposed solution to the problem of mentalcausation is a ubiquitous violation of the principle of closure — a fact that forces him into a trilemma to which we see no satisfactory response. (shrink)
Fred Dretske’s account of mentalcausation, developed in Explaining Behavior and defended in numerous articles, is generally regarded as one of the most interesting and most ambitious approaches in the field. According to Dretske, meaning facts, construed historically as facts about the indicator functions of internal states, are the structuring causes of behavior. In this article, we argue that Dretske’s view is untenable: On closer examination, the real structuring causes of behavior turn out to be markedly different from (...) Dretske’s meaning facts. Our argument proceeds in three steps. First, we set forth the problem of meaning individuation: We argue that the proposal that meaning facts are structuring causes of behavior commits Dretske to a very fine-grained individuation of meanings that is deeply counterintuitive. In a second step, we show that even these finely individuated meaning facts cannot do the job that they are supposed to do, since information facts—which are constitutive of, but distinct from Dretske’s meaning facts—are better candidates for the role of structuring causes. Finally, we argue that it is not even information facts, but facts of co-instantiation which are the real structuring causes of behavior. In concluding, we briefly consider the options that are left for Dretske if our arguments succeed. (shrink)
Mentalcausation is a problem and not just a problem for the nonphysicalist. One of the many lessons learned from Jaegwon Kim’s writings in the philosophy of mind is that mentalcausation is a problem for the nonreductive physicalist as well. A central component of the common sense picture we have of ourselves as persons is that our beliefs and desires causally explain our actions. But the completeness of the “brain sciences” threatens this picture. If all (...) of our actions are causally explained by neurophysiological events occurring in our brains, what causal role is left for our reasons and motives? It would seem that these brain events do all the causal work there is to do, thus robbing the mental of its efficacy altogether or else making it a merely superfluous or redundant causal factor. This essay presents a systematic treatment of this exclusion dilemma from the perspective of a nonreductive physicalist. I argue that both horns of this dilemma can be avoided if we ground mentalcausation in counterfactual dependence between distinct events and understand the mind-body relation as event realization. Although in the final analysis our actions are overdetermined by their mental and neurophysiological antecedents, this overdetermination is entirely unproblematic. (shrink)
In a series of recent papers, Cynthia MacDonald and Graham MacDonald offer a resolution to the twin problems of mentalcausation and mental causal relevance. They argue that the problem of mentalcausation is soluble via token monism – mental events are causally efficacious physical events. At the same time, the problem of mental causal relevance is solved by combining this causally efficacious mental property instance with the systematic co-variation between distinct (...) class='Hi'>mental properties of the cause and the action-theoretic properties of the effect in question. In this paper we argue that the solution offered by Mac- Donald and MacDonald faces significant difficulties in resolving both of the twin problems of mentalcausation and mental causal relevance. (shrink)
Over the past few decades, Jaegwon Kim has argued that non-reductive physicalism is an inherently unstable position. In his view, the most serious problem is that non-reductive physicalism leads to type epiphenomenalismâthe causal inefficacy of mental properties. Kim suggests that we can salvage mentalcausation by endorsing functional reduction. Given the fact that Kimâs goal in formulating functional reduction is to provide a robust account of mentalcausation it would be surprising if his position implies (...) eliminativism about mental properties or leads to a view that is similar to one of the versions of non-reductive physicalism that he criticizes. We will show that depending on how certain key claims are interpreted, there are reasons for thinking functional reduction has these implications, in which case either Kim fails to provide a robust account of mentalcausation or there is reason to suspect that some of his criticisms of non-reductive physicalism are misguided. (shrink)
S. C. Gibb holds that some mental events enable physical events to take place by acting as ‘double preventers’ which prevent other mental events from effecting change in the physical domain. She argues that this enables a dualist account of psychophysical interaction consistent with the causal relevance of mental events, their distinctness from physical events, the causal closure of the physical and the exclusion of systematic overdetermination. While accepting the causal powers metaphysic, this paper argues that: Closure (...) is maintained only on the assumption of an implausible pre-ordained harmony between preventing and double-preventing mental events. Distinctness is preserved only at the cost of positing brute unexplained powers of mental and physical events to causally interact with each other. Exclusion is systematically violated in a substantial number of everyday cases. The case for Relevance made by the Double Prevention model is accordingly too weak to sustain a dualist approach to mentalcausation. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to investigate the role of mentalcausation in the context of rational choice theory. The author defends psychological aspect of rational explanation against the challenge of contemporary reductive materialism.
In his book Personal Agency, E. J. Lowe has argued that a dualist theory of mentalcausation is consistent with “a fairly strong principle of physical causal closure” and, moreover, that it “has the potential to strengthen our causal explanations of certain physical events.” If Lowe’s reasoning were sound, it would undermine the most common arguments for reductive physicalism or epiphenomenalism of the mental. For it would show not only that a dualist theory of mental (...) class='Hi'>causation is consistent with a widely held scientific principle, but also that there is some positive reason for accepting the theory. However, I argue that Lowe’s reasoning is unsound, for it requires that causation both is, and is not, transitive: a contradiction. I conclude that if Lowe succeeds in proving that a dualist theory is consistent with physical causal closure, he fails to show that it serves an explanatory purpose. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish two types of mentalcausation, called 'higher-level causation' and 'exploitation'. These notions superficially resemble the traditional problematic notions of supervenient causation and downward causation, but they are different in crucial respects. My new distinction is supported by a radically externalist competitor of the so-called Standard View of mental states, i.e. the view that mental states are brain states. I argue that on the Alternative View, the notions of 'higher-level (...)causation' and 'exploitation' can in combination dissolve the problem of mentalcausation as standardly discussed. (shrink)
The problem of downward causation is that an intuitive response to an intuitive picture leads to counterintuitive results. Suppose a mental event, m1, causes another mental event, m2. Unless the mental and the physical are completely independent, there will be a physical event in your brain or your body or the physical world as a whole that underlies this event. The mental event occurs at least partly in virtue of the physical event’s occurring. And the (...) same goes for m2  and p2. Let’s not worry about what exactly “underlying” or “in virtue of” means here. Here’s the picture. m1 -----> m2 | | p1 -----> p2 The horizontal arrows represent causation, and the vertical lines represent underlying, whatever that may be. There’s some reason to think that the only way m1 can bring about m2 is by bringing about p2. You can’t convince someone of something through mental telepathy. You need to interact with the physical world, perhaps by saying something and so making some noise, or by pointing and getting them to turn their head and see. What goes for the case of two people goes for the case of one person as well. Superstition aside, there is no purely mental energy that floats free of the merely physical workings of the brain. If m1 brings about m2 by bringing about p2, then m1 brings about p2. This is downward causation. But wait. Doesn’t p1 bring about p2? Isn’t that what the bottom arrow represents? Maybe m1 and p1 work together to bring about p2. There are little holes in the physical causal structure that need to be filled by mental events. You don’t need a sweeping metaphysical thesis about the causal closure of the physical to find this implausible. Maybe p2 is overdetermined. (shrink)