Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 10, pp 2475–2506 | Cite as

A causal argument for dualism

  • Bradford Saad


Dualism holds (roughly) that some mental events are fundamental and non-physical. I develop a prima facie plausible causal argument for dualism. The argument has several significant implications. First, it constitutes a new way of arguing for dualism. Second, it provides dualists with a parity response to causal arguments for physicalism. Third, it transforms the dialectical role of epiphenomenalism. Fourth, it refutes the view that causal considerations prima facie support physicalism but not dualism. After developing the causal argument for dualism and drawing out these implications, I subject the argument to a battery of objections. Some prompt revisions to the argument. Others reveal limitations in scope. It falls out of the discussion that the causal argument for dualism is best used against physicalism as a keystone in a divide and conquer strategy.


Mind–body problem Mental causation Interactionism Dualism Physicalism 



For helpful feedback on earlier drafts, thanks to Alex Grossman, Jon Litland, Michelle Montague, Mark Sainsbury, David Sosa, and an anonymous referee. For helpful discussion, thanks to Bryce Dalbey, Brie Gertler, Alex Grossman, Jon Litland, Michelle Montague, Jon Morgan, Mark Sainsbury, David Sosa, Daniel Stoljar, and audience members at UT Austin’s 2016 Spring Conference.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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