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Causal Powers, Realization, and Mental Causation: Comments on Brian McLaughlin

Frank Hofmann
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 67, No. 2, Mental Causation, Externalism and Self-Knowledge (Sep., 2007), pp. 173-182
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27667922
Page Count: 10
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Causal Powers, Realization, and Mental Causation: Comments on Brian McLaughlin
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Abstract

Sydney Shoemaker has attempted to save mental causation by a new account of realization. As Brian McLaughlin argues convincingly, the account has to face two major problems. First, realization does not guarantee entailment. So even if mental properties are realized by physical properties, they need not be entailed by them. This is the first, rather general metaphysical problem. A second problem, which relates more directly to mental causation is that Shoemaker must appeal to some kind of proportionality as a constraint on causation in order to avoid redundant mental causation. I argue that, in addition, a "piling problem" arises, since causal powers seem to be bestowed twice. Then, I try to sketch an alternative view of the relation between causal powers and properties—a reductionist view—which fares better on some accounts. But it may have to face another and, perhaps, serious problem, the "problem of the natural unity of properties". Finally, I will pose a question about the relation between causal powers and causation.

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