, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 273–285 | Cite as

The Epistemological Approach to Mental Causation

  • Sven WalterEmail author
Original article


Epistemological approaches to mental causation argue that the notorious problem of mental causation as captured in the question “How can irreducible, physically realized, and potentially relational mental properties be causally efficacious in the production of physical effects?” has a very simple solution: One merely has to abandon any metaphysical considerations in favor of epistemological considerations and accept that our explanatory practice is a much better guide to causal relevance than the metaphysical reasoning carried out from the philosophical armchair. I argue that epistemological approaches to mental causation do not enjoy any genuine advantage over theories which treat the problem of mental causation as a genuinely metaphysical problem.


Measle Causal Explanation Mental Property Standard View Mental Causation 
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An early predecessor of this paper was written in 2004 while I was a visiting fellow at the department of philosophy at the Ohio State University, thanks to a DAAD grant. Support from both institutions is gratefully acknowledged. A later version was presented at the GAP.6 conference of the German Society for Analytic Philosophy 2006 in Berlin. I would like to thank the members of the audience at this occasion, in particular Sanne Lodahl, who provided helpful criticism, and two anonymous referees for Erkenntnis for various valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cognitive ScienceUniversity of OsnabrueckOsnabrueckGermany

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