Mind and Language 9 (3):336-366 (1994)

Paul Pietroski
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
The philosophical problem of mental causation concerns a clash between commonsense and scientific views about the causation of human behaviour. On the one hand, commonsense suggests that our actions are caused by our mental states—our thoughts, intentions, beliefs and so on. On the other hand, neuroscience assumes that all bodily movements are caused by neurochemical events. It is implausible to suppose that our actions are causally overdetermined in the same way that the ringing of a bell may be overdetermined by two hammers striking it at the same time. So how are we to reconcile these two views about the causal origins of human behaviour? One philosophical doctrine effects a nice reconciliation. Neuralism, or the token-identity theory, states that every particular mental event is a neurophysiological event and that every action is a physically specifiable bodily movement. If these identities hold, there is no problem of causal overdetermination: the apparently different causal pathways to the behaviour are actually one and the same pathway viewed from different perspectives. This attractively simple view is enjoying a recent revival in fortunes.
Keywords Behavior  Causation  Dualism  Epistemology  Mental  Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 1994
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0017.1994.tb00229.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,634
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.

View all 39 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

When Other Things Aren’T Equal: Saving Ceteris Paribus Laws From Vacuity.Paul Pietroski & Georges Rey - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (1):81-110.
Dualism.Howard Robinson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Believing in Language.Susan Dwyer & Paul M. Pietroski - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):338-373.
Moral Explanation and the Special Sciences.Brad Majors - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (2):121 - 152.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mental Causation.David Robb & John Heil - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Nonreductivist’s Troubles with Mental Causation.Jaegwon Kim - 1992 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
Mental Causation: Sustaining and Dynamic.Robert N. Audi - 1993 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
Mental Causation as Multiple Causation.Thomas Kroedel - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 139 (1):125-143.
Causing Actions by Paul Pietroski. [REVIEW]Peter Menzies - 2003 - Mind and Language 18 (4):440-446.


Added to PP index

Total views
160 ( #75,386 of 2,533,752 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #163,628 of 2,533,752 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes