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Mental Causation Inc. Anomalous Monism Notes

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Non-Reductive Physicalism & Mental Causation 'Mental Events' - Donald Davidson
? "[T]he causal dependence, and the anomalousness, of mental events are undeniable facts." o Nomos = law, so anomalous = not conforming to a law
? Wants to show there isn't a contradiction between these 3 principles1: o 1. At least some mental events interact causally with physical events (Principle of Causal Interaction). o 2. Where there is causality, there must be a law. (Principle of the Nomological Character of Causality). o 3. There are no strict deterministic laws on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained (the Anomalism of the Mental).
? One way of rejecting Davidson's view would then be to deny 1 by arguing for the epiphenomenalism of the mental (or, show that his view leads to this anyway.)
? He's a new kind of identity theorist, who doesn't rely on the existence of psychophysical laws.
? Also a nominalist so doesn't think there are mental (or any) properties.
? Events can fall under different descriptions. Mental events (which are identical to physical events) can fall under mental or physical descriptions. o Thinks the 'mark of the mental' is Brentano's intentionality. Could also argue against him by denying this (Fricker lecture notes).
? Could also criticise D for his definition of mental events: as he admits, it allows 'the event [any event] which is simultaneous with me noticing that the pencil is rolling across the desk' to be mental because the description contains mental vocabulary essentially. o But he thinks this will "only strengthen" the hypothesis that mental events are physical events. Nomological monism (e.g. Physicalism) Anomalous dualism (e.g. Cartesianism)Nomological dualism (E.g. Epiphenomenalism) Anomalous monism (Davidson's view)

Mental events supervene upon, but are not reducible to, physical events. o Mental supervenience: any two possible worlds that differ in their mental characteristics must also differ in their physical ones.

1 I.e. find a (logical) structure under which they all come out true. NB There's no formal contradiction unless you add the extra implicit premises.


Laws are linguistic, and so events can instantiate laws or fail to instantiate them depending on how they are described. But the relations of causality and identity hold no matter how the events are described. o This dissolves the apparent contradiction between the 3 principles. "[T]here may be true general statements relating the mental and the physical, statements that have the logical form of a law; but they are not lawlike," where lawlike statements are "general statements that support counterfactual and subjunctive claims, and are supported by their instances." o Lawlikeness is a matter of degree, but there may be cases beyond debate. He believes in the holism of the mental, i.e. that the attribution of mental states cannot be effectuated piecemeal, because such a practice is sensitive to the demands of rationality, which concern collections of mental states. o Thinks holism points to both autonomy and anomaly of the mental. Homonomic generalization: one positive instances of which give us reason to believe the generalization itself could be improved by adding further provisos, conditions, etc stated in the same general vocabulary as the original. Heteronomic generalization: ones that when instantiated may give reason to believe that there is a precise law at work, but one that can be stated only by shifting to a different vocabulary. o Most science is heteronomic. o Psychophysical statements are heteronomic: "There cannot be tight connections between the realms if each is to retain allegiance to its proper source of evidence." "[N]omological slack between the mental and the physical is essential as long as we conceive of man as a rational animal." o Reasoning: By principle 1, the mental does not constitute a closed system. No psychophysical statement can be built into a strict law because they are heteronomic. Anomalism of the mental follows. Finally: "Suppose m, a mental event, caused p, a physical event; then, under some description m and p instantiate a strict law. This law can only be physical, according to the previous paragraph. But if m falls under a physical law, it has a physical description; which is to say it is a physical event. An analogous argument works when a physical event causes a mental event. So every mental event that is causally related to a physical event is a physical event." "Mental events as a class cannot be explained by physical science; particular mental events can when we know particular identities." The anomalism of the mental is a necessary condition for viewing action as autonomous.

'Psychology as Philosophy' - Donald Davidson
? "When we attribute a belief, a desire, a goal, an intention or a meaning to an agent, we necessarily operate within a system of concepts in part determined by the structure of beliefs and desires of the agent himself. Short of changing the subject, we cannot escape this feature of the psychological; but this feature has no counterpart in the world of physics." o "The nomological irreducibility of the psychological means, if I am right, that the social sciences cannot be expected to develop in ways exactly parallel to the physical sciences, nor can we expect ever to be able to explain and predict human behaviour with the kind of precision that is possible in principle for physical phenomena." o "[W]e necessarily impose conditions of coherence, rationality, and consistency. These conditions have no echo in physical theory, which is why we can look for no more than rough correlations between psychological and physical phenomena."
? "Since psychological phenomena do not constitute a closed system, this amounts to saying they are not, even in theory, amenable to precise prediction or subsumption under deterministic laws. The limit thus placed on the social sciences is set not by nature, but by us when we decide to view men as rational agents with goals and purposes, and as subject to moral evaluation." 'Actions, Reasons and Causes' - Davidson
? Two these about primary reasons:

1. In order to understand how a reason of any kind rationalizes an action it is necessary and sufficient that we see, at least in essential outline, how to construct a primary reason.

2. The primary reason for an action is its cause.
? C1. R is a primary reason why an agent performed the action A under the description d only if R consists of a pro attitude of the agent towards actions with a certain property, and a belief of the agent that A, under the description d, has that property.
? "Any one of an indefinitely large number of actions would satisfy the want and can be considered equally eligible as its object."
? "Noting that nonteleological causal explanations do not display the element of justification provided by reasons, some philosophers have concluded that the concept of cause that applies elsewhere cannot apply to the relation between reasons and actions, and that the pattern of justification provides, in the case of reasons, the required explanation." o But if we grant that reasons alone justify actions in the course of explaining them; it doesn't follow that the explanation is not also (and necessarily) causal.
? If rationalization is a species of causal explanation, then justification (in the sense of C1) is a differentiating property.

??But justification includes more than is covered by C1 because otherwise a person can have a reason 'for' an action, and perform the action, and yet this reason not be the reason why she did it. o Central to the reason between a reason and the action it explains is the idea that the agent performed the action because she had the reason. "[W]hen we explain an action, by giving the reason, we do redescribe the action; redescribing the action gives the action a place in a pattern, and in this way the action is explained." In order to turn the first 'and' to 'because' in 'He exercised and he wanted to reduce and thought exercise would do it', we must augment C1 with: o C2: A primary reason for an action is its cause (2nd thesis). Defending C2 from 5 ways it could be attacked:

1. Primary reasons consist of attitudes and beliefs, which are states or dispositions, not events; therefore they cannot be causes. a. "States and dispositions are not events, but the onslaught of a state or disposition is."

2. (Melden says) a causal must be logically distinct from the alleged effect, but reasons aren't logically distinct from actions, thus they aren't their causes. a. "To describe an event in terms of its cause is not to confuse the event with its cause, nor does explanation by redescription exclude causal explanation." b. Also true causal statements can surely be analytic. c. "Still, it may be maintained that a reason rationalizes an action only when the descriptions are appropriately fixed, and the appropriate descriptions are not logically independent." i. But "Since the implication runs from description of cause to description of effect but not conversely, naming the cause still gives information."

3. Hume says we may define a cause to be an object, followed by another, and where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second. But, Hart and Honore
claim, "the statement that one person did something because, for example, another threatened him, carried no implication or covert assertion that if the circumstances were repeated the same action would follow". Laws aren't involved in rationalizations in the same way. a. "[G]eneralizations connecting reasons and actions are not
- and cannot be sharpened into - the kind of law on the bases of which accurate predictions can reliably be made." b. "Any serious theory for predicting action on the basis of reasons must find a way of evaluating the relative force of various desires and beliefs in the matrix of decision; it

cannot take as its starting point the refinement of what is to be expected from a single desire." c. "Ignorance of competent predictive laws does not inhibit valid causal explanation, or few causal explanations could be made." d. "[I]t is an error to think no explanation has been given until a law has been produced." e. "Linked with these errors is the idea that singular causal statement necessarily indicate, by the concepts they employ, the concepts that will occur in the entailed law." f. "The laws whose existence is required if reasons are causes of actions do not, we may be sure, deal in the concepts in which rationalizations must deal."

4. The kind of knowledge one has of one's own reasons in acting is not compatible with the existence of a causal relation between reasons and actions: a person knows his own intentions in acting infallibly, without induction or observation, and no ordinary causal relation can be known in this way. a. "Causal laws differ from true but nonlawlike generalizations in that their instances confirm them...It does not follow that [induction] is the only way to learn the truth of a law." b. "[I]n order to know that a singular causal statement is true, it is not necessary to know the truth of a law; it is necessary only to know that some law covering the events at hand exists."

5. There's something weird about speaking about the causes of actions at all. a. D thinks this would be a contradictory view, and it seems silly to think that a cause turns an action into a mere happening and a person into a helpless victim...
'Special Sciences' - J. A. Fodor
?????Philosophers who accept reductivism have often only intended to accept the weaker hypothesis of the generality of physics: that all events that fall under the laws of any science are physical events and hence fall under the laws of physics.
?????Thinks you can't infer the truth of reductivism from the truth of token physicalism (reductivism is sufficient but not necessary for TP) o Token physicalism is the claim that all the events that the sciences talk about are physical events. o Reductivism requires that any formula which appears as the antecedent of the consequent of one of the proper laws of the science to be reduced needs to appear as the reduced formula in some bridge law.
?????Bridge laws state nomologically necessary contingent event identities.

?????If reductivism were true, then, as a nomologically necessary fact, every natural kind would be (or would be coextensive with) a physical natural kind. Thinks this seems too strong because: o Interesting generalizations can often be made about events whose physical descriptions have nothing in common. o Often, whether the physical descriptions of the events subsumed by these generalizations have anything in common is entirely irrelevant to the truth of the generalizations, or to their interestingness, degree of confirmation, etc. o The special sciences make generalization of this kind.
? "[T]he assumption that every psychological event is a physical event does not guarantee that physics...can provide an appropriate vocabulary for psychological theories."
? "[I]t seems increasingly likely that there are nomologically possible systems other than organisms (namely, automata) which satisfy natural kind predicates in psychology, and which satisfy no neurological predicates at all." So the bridge laws wouldn't be laws >
disproves the alleged coextensivity. o "[T]he classical formulation of the unity of science is at the mercy of progress in the field of computer simulation." He proposes a liberalization of reductivism to stop it being so strong.
? "If we do not require that bridge statements must be laws, then either some of the generalizations to which the laws of special sciences reduce are not themselves lawlike, or some laws are not formulable in terms of natural kinds."
? You either have to give up the claim that special laws have exceptions or the claim that the basic laws are exceptionless. Fodor instead gets out of it by denying the reductionist model. o "We allow the generalizations of the special sciences to have exceptions, thus preserving the natural kinds to which the generalizations apply."
? "[T]here are special sciences not because of the nature of our epistemic relation to the world, but because of the way the world is put together: not all natural kinds (not all the classes of things and events about which there are important, counterfactual supporting generalizations to make) are, or correspond to, physical natural kinds." 'Multiple Realization and the Metaphysics of Reduction' - Jaegwon Kim
? The Multiple Realization (MR) Thesis: any mental state is capable of multiple instantiation/realization. o Kim wants to throw doubt on this, and the idea that it refutes psychophysical reductionism.
? The (Structure-)Restricted Correlation Thesis: "If anything has mental property M at time t, there is some physical structure type T and physical property P such that it is a system of type T at t and has P at t, and it holds as a matter of law that all systems of type T have M at a time just in case they have P at the time."

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