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Potency & Process: A Naturalistic Defense of Mental Causation
AuthorBray, Devin J.
AdvisorNickles, Thomas J.
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It has been argued extensively in contemporary philosophy of mind and neuroscience that physicalism precludes the possibility of robust mental causation. “Exclusion arguments” of the sort offered by Jaegwon Kim present the physicalist with an apparent dilemma: either all putatively “mental” causation reduces to mere “bottom-up” causation, or else it is epiphenomenal. However, the purportedly “scientific” premises that bolster these arguments can be argued are metaphysically overladen, smuggling in assumptions about the fundamental nature of matter that are not warranted by our best current data. By examining the evidence against such assumptions and the feasibility of alternative metaphysical frameworks, serious doubt can be cast on the validity of Exclusion arguments. Accepting the plausibility of causal entanglements leading from the “top down,” so to speak, also turns out to be a better fit with experimental practice, especially in explaining psychosomatic medical phenomena.