When is a brain like the planet?

Philosophy of Science 74 (3):330-347 (2007)

Abstract

Time series of macroscopic quantities that are aggregates of microscopic quantities, with unknown one‐many relations between macroscopic and microscopic states, are common in applied sciences, from economics to climate studies. When such time series of macroscopic quantities are claimed to be causal, the causal relations postulated are representable by a directed acyclic graph and associated probability distribution—sometimes called a dynamical Bayes net. Causal interpretations of such series imply claims that hypothetical manipulations of macroscopic variables have unambiguous effects on variables “downstream” in the graph, and such macroscopic variables may be predictably produced or altered even while particular microstates are not. This paper argues that such causal time series of macroscopic aggregates of microscopic processes are the appropriate model for mental causation.

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