Mental Causation and Free Will
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Merricks - Objects and Persons, 2001, Chapter 6
Paper - Abstract

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I argue that the Exclusion Argument against mental causation1 (an argument primarily associated with Jaegwon Kim and which opposes systematic overdetermination) is self-defeating and should be rejected by everyone. A new version of the Argument - the 'Micro Exclusion Argument' - does not undermine itself, but, I argue, we should reject that argument in light of the rejection of microphysical closure defended earlier in the book. And, among other things, I present an argument against free will, an argument that presupposes incompatibilism. I then show that those who believe in non-redundant mental causation2 of the sort I defend in Ch. 4 can resist that argument. And so, I suggest, incompatibilists who believe in free will should embrace my most controversial claims about mental causation3.

  1. The Exclusion Argument(s)
  2. Causal Overdetermination Again
  3. The ‘Bottom-Up’ Threat to Free Will
  4. Conclusion: The arguments of Chapters 2 to 5 show that we should eliminate baseballs and statues4 but not humans. But those arguments side, one might query, doesn't it seem like statues5 and human organisms should be in the same metaphysical boat? Isn't it intuitively arbitrary to eliminate composite statues6 but not composite persons? No. As I emphasized at the close of §VI in Chapter 4, the ontology here can be well motivated by favouring objects with non-redundant causal powers and thus downward causal control over their proper parts. This chapter – relying as it has, in each section, on either our non-redundant powers or our resultant downward causal control – casts further light on the differences, relevant to ontology, between alleged statues7 and actual humans.

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