, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 331-347

The Overdetermination Argument Revisited

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Abstract

In this paper I discuss a famous argument for physicalism – which some authors indeed regard as the only argument for it – the “overdetermination argument”. In fact it is an argument that does not establish that all the entities in the world are physical, but that all those events that enter into causal transactions with the physical world are physical. As mental events seem to cause changes in the physical world, the mind is one of those things that fall within the scope of the argument. Here I analyze one response to the overdetermination argument that has acquired some popularity lately, and which consists in saying that what mental events cause are not physical effects. I try to show that recent attempts to develop this response are not successful, but that there may be a coherent way of doing so. I also try to show that there seems to be a philosophical “niche” in which this way might fit.