Davidsonian Naturalism and “A-Ontological” Philosophy of Mind

European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 5 (2) (2013)
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This paper argues that Davidson’s position in the philosophy of mind undergoes a change from his early writings to his later ones. Whereas the early Davidson emphasizes how anomalous monism expresses a token-identity form of physicalism, his later writings instead suggest that anomalous monism articulates an “a-ontological” position. I aim to show both how the later a-ontological position results from Davidson’s particular form of naturalism, which in his philosophy of mind gets expressed in the way he configures the mental/physical distinction as a conceptual as opposed to an ontological distinction, as well as how it provides him with new avenues of response to two influential criticisms anomalous monism has faced. I finish by explaining the Kantian significance that mental vocabulary has for Davidson in this a-ontological landscape.



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John Fennell
Grinnell College

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Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.

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