Nonreductive physicalism and the causal powers of the mental

Erkenntnis 51 (2-3):295-322 (1999)
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Abstract

Nonreductive physicalism is currently one of the most widely held views about the world in general and about the status of the mental in particular. However, the view has recently faced a series of powerful criticisms from, among others, Jaegwon Kim. In several papers, Kim has argued that the nonreductivist's view of the mental is an unstable position, one harboring contradictions that push it either to reductivism or to eliminativism. The problems arise, Kim maintains, when we consider the causal powers that mental properties are held to carry on the nonreductivist's view and the causal transactions into which mental events are said to enter. My aim here is less than that of defending nonreductive physicalism against all of Kim's criticisms. I wish primarily to call into question the claim that nonreductive physicalism is committed to emergentism with respect to the causal powers of the mental. As subsidiary points, I shall offer a limited defense of nonreductivism against two related objections that Kim raises. However, even if my conclusions are correct, problems remain for the nonreductivist's treatment of mental causation. I shall close the paper with a brief discussion of these difficulties.

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Randolph Clarke
Florida State University

Citations of this work

Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong.Jessica Wilson - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wuthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. pp. 251-306.
Non-Reductive Realization and the Powers-Based Subset Strategy.Jessica Wilson - 2011 - The Monist (Issue on Powers) 94 (1):121-154.

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References found in this work

What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Reduction of Mind.David K. Lewis - 1994 - In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 412-431.
Making Sense of Emergence.Jaegwon Kim - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.

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