Mental causation

Mind 105 (419):377-413 (1996)

Abstract

I survey recent work on mental causation. The discussion is conducted under the twin presumptions that mental states, including especially what subjects believe and desire, causally explain what subjects do, and that the physical sciences can in principle give a complete explanation for each and every bodily movement. I start with sceptical discussions of various views that hold that, in some strong sense, the causal explanations offered by psychology are autonomous with respect to those offered by the physical sciences. I then proceed to views that see the problem of mental causation as that of identifying where in the physical story about us and our world lie the parts that in effect tell us abut mental causation - the kind of position that is pretty much standard in the cognitive science community - and consider issues raised by various forms of functionalism and externalism. The general thrust of my discussion is sympathetic to the story about mental causation suggested by those type-type versions of the mind-brain identity theory that allow for the possiblity of multiple realisability. I include a brief discussion of how a map-system account of belief, by contrast with a language of thought one, should understand explanations of behaviour in terms of what a subject believes.

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Citations of this work

Do Belief Reports Report Beliefs?Kent Bach - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (3):215-241.
Virtue Epistemology and Epistemic Twin Earth.Jesper Kallestrup & Duncan Pritchard - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (3):335-357.
Functionalism.Janet Levin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Mental Causation.David Robb & John Heil - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Significance of Emergence.Tim Crane - 2001 - In Barry Loewer & Grant Gillett (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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