Atkins, Rosemary Susan (2011) Mind over matter or matter over mind? A comparison and evaluation of four approaches to the problem of mental causation. Masters thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis concerns the problem of mental causation and four contemporary approaches committed to its solution or dissolution. The problem of mental causation is the question of how, given the causal closure of the physical, the mental can have causal efficacy in physical events. The first approach I discuss is Davidson's Anomalous Monism. This non-reductivist approach claims that token mental events are identical with token physical events, but that there are no strict bridging laws between mental and physical generalisations. Davidson appeals to supervenience and causal extensionalism to answer the objection that his account renders mental properties epiphenomenal, but I argue that neither of these tactics are ultimately successful. The second approach is proposed by Dray, who claims that the problem of mental causation dissolves if the debate is considered as one of different methodological practices. This approach argues that by realising that different disciplines employ different methodologies that are not in competition with each other, there is no problem of mental causation. Against this, I argue that Dray has exaggerated the dissimilarities between these practices. The third approach is proposed by Fodor, Baker and Dretske, who all stress the importance of not emphasising micro-causation to the detriment of macro-causation. Against this, I argue that Fodor's account undermines the autonomy of the mental, Baker's reliance on common-sense explanation has unintended and unacceptable consequences, and that Dretske's distinction between two types of causes cannot provide an explanation of one unified event. The fourth approach I discuss, and ultimately defend, is proposed by Rorty, who attempts to dissolve the problem of mental causation by arguing that it is based on historical confusions which need to be recognised and then rejected.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Contributors: Tartaglia, J (Thesis advisor)
D'Oro, G (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 10:31
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2022 10:31
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11273

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