Mental causation in a physical world
Marcus (Eric)
Source: Philosophical Studies; Jan2005, Vol. 122 Issue 1, p27-50, 24p
Paper - Abstract

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  1. It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mental causation1 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 mental causation2.
  2. Some find Completeness threatening to mental causation3 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.
  3. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mental causation4. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mental causation5. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mental causation6.

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