Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk, Umut Baysan (Glasgow), “How to Save Mental Causation”

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Please join us:

Bogazici University

Friday April 3, 5pm

TB 130 (Anderson Hall)


How to Save Mental Causation

Non-reductive physicalism holds that mental properties, such as beliefs, desires, sensations and so on, are “nothing over and above” physical properties, but that mental properties are not identical with physical properties. Most non-reductive physicalists also believe that mental properties can be causally efficacious: my belief that it is raining can cause me to open my umbrella. Some opponents of non-reductive physicalism, most notably Jaegwon Kim, argue that if mental properties are not identifiable with physical properties, mental causation is difficult to account for: physical properties do all the causal work, so there is no room for mental causes. In this talk, I will explore the success and the limitations of one particular response to this problem. This response suggests that the causal powers of a mental property are a subset of the causal powers of a physical property that realizes it. Because of this subset relation, mental properties are parts of physical properties, and parts and wholes don’t causally compete. I will argue that this parthood claim is problematic. If it is taken literally, the metaphysical commitments to justify it are implausible. If it is taken metaphorically, then what it takes to respond to Kim’s challenge is available to all non-reductive physicalists. I believe that the parthood claim should be taken metaphorically, and that non-reductive physicalists can successfully respond to Kim’s objection without any appeal to a part-whole relation.


Written by markedwardsteen

March 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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