, 12:213 | Cite as

Mind in a Humean World

  • Jens HarbeckeEmail author


The paper defends Humean approaches to autonomous mental causation against recent attacks in the literature. One important criticism launched at Humean approaches says that the truth-makers of the counterfactuals in question include laws of nature, and there are laws that support physical-to-physical counterfactuals, but no laws in the same sense that support mental-to-physical counterfactuals. This paper argues that special science causal laws and physical causal laws cannot be distinguished in terms of degrees of strictness. It follows that mental-to-physical counterfactuals are supported—or not supported—by laws in just the same way as are physical-to-physical counterfactuals.


Mental causation Counterfactual causation Humean metaphysics Causal laws Causal overdetermination 



We would like to thank Ran Rubin and Michael Esfeld for helpful comments and advice on earlier drafts of this paper. This work has been supported by a fellowship within the postdoctoral programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).


  1. Baker L (1993) Metaphysics and mental causation. In J. Heil and A. Mele (Eds.), Mental Causation, pp. 75–95. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bauer M (2010) Psychological laws (revisited) Erkenntnis 73(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumgartner M (2008) Regularity theories reassessed. Philosophia 36(3), 327–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumgartner M (2009) Uncovering deterministic causal structures: a Boolean approach. Synthese 170(1), 71–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumgartner M, Graßhoff G. (2004) Kausalität und kausales Schliessen: eine Einführung mit interaktiven Übungen. Bern: Bern Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science.Google Scholar
  6. Bennett K (2003) Why the exclusion problem seems intractable, and how, just maybe, to tract it. Noˆus 37(3), 471–497.Google Scholar
  7. Collins J, Hall E, Paul L (2004) Causation and counterfactuals. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Esfeld M (2010) Causal overdetermination for humeans? Metaphysica 11(2), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Graßhoff G, May M (2001) Causal regularities. In Spohn W, Ledwig M, Esfeld M (Eds.), Current issues in causation, pp. 85–114. Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  10. Halpin J (2003) Scientific law: a perspectival account. Erkenntnis 58(2), 137–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harbecke J (2008) Mental causation. Investigating the mind’s powers in a natural world. Frankfurt am Maine: Ontos.Google Scholar
  12. Harbecke J (2010) The problem of mental causation formalized. Mind and Matter 8(1), 63–91.Google Scholar
  13. Heil J, Mele A (1991) Mental causes. American Philosophical Quarterly 28(1), 61–71.Google Scholar
  14. Hitchcock C (2007) Prevention, preemption, and the principle of sufficient reason. Philosophical Review 116(4), 495–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Horgan T (1989) Mental quausation. Philosophical Perspectives 3, 47–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hume, D (2000/1748) An enquiry concerning human understanding: a critical edition. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Jackson F (1977) A causal theory of counterfactuals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 55(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kallestrup J (2006) The causal exclusion argument. Philosophical Studies 131(2), 459–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim, J. (1973) Causation, nomic subsumption, and the concept of event. The Journal of Philosophy 70(8), 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kim, J. (1984) Concepts of supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45(2), 153–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kistler, M (2002) Causation in contemporary analytical philosophy. In C. Esposito and P. Porro (Eds.), Quaestio-Annuario di storia della metafisica, volume 2, pp. 635–668. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Kroedel T (2008) Mental causation as multiple causation. Philosophical Studies 139(1), 125–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. LePore E, Loewer B (1987) Mind matters. The Journal of Philosophy 84(11), 630–642.Google Scholar
  24. Lewis D (1973a) Causation. The Journal of Philosophy 70(17), 556–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lewis D (1973b) Counterfactuals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lewis D (1973c) Counterfactuals and comparative possibility. Journal of Philosophical Logic 2(4), 418–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lewis D (1986) Philosophical papers, volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lewis, D (2004) Void and object. In Collins J et al. (Eds.) Causation and Counterfactuals, pp. 277–290. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Loewer B (2001). Review of J. Kim, Mind in a physical world. The Journal of Philosophy 98(6), 315–324.Google Scholar
  30. Loewer B (2002). Comments on Jaegwon Kim’s mind in a physical world. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65(3), 655–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Loewer B (2007a). Counterfactuals and the second law. In Price H et al (Eds.) Causation, physics, and the constitution of reality. Russell's republic revisited, pp. 293–326. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Loewer B (2007b). Mental causation, or something near enough. In McLaughlin B, Cohen J (Eds.), Contemporary debates in philosophy of mind, pp. 243–264. New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. Mackie J (1974). The cement of the Universe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Marras A (2007). Kim’s supervenience argument and nonreductive physicalism. Erkenntnis 66(3), 305–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McLaughlin B, Bennett K (2008). Supervenience. In Zalta E N (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 edn.).Google Scholar
  36. Mills E (1996). Interactionism and overdetermination. American Philosophical Quarterly 33(1), 105–117.Google Scholar
  37. Papineau D (2002). Thinking about consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pietroski P (1994). Mental causation for dualists. Mind and Language 9(3), 336–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raatikainen P (2006). Mental causation, interventions, and contrasts (unpublished). URL:
  40. Ramachandran M (1997). A counterfactual analysis of causation. Mind 106(422), 263–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rasmussen S (1982). Ruben on Lewis and causal suffciency. Analysis 42(4), 207–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rupert R (2006). Functionalism, mental causation, and the problem of metaphysically necessary effects1. Noˆus 40(2), 256–283.Google Scholar
  43. Sartorio C (2005). Causes as difference-makers. Philosophical Studies 123(1), 71–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shapiro L, Sober E (2007). Epiphenomenalism—the do’s and don’ts. In Wolters G, Machamer P (Eds.), Studies in causality: historical and contemporary, pp. 235–264. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  45. Shoemaker S (2003/1980). Causality and properties. In Identity, cause, and mind. philosophical essays, pp. 206–233. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Weslake B (2009). Exclusion excluded (unpublished). URL: .
  47. Yablo S (1992). Mental causation. The Philosophical Review 101(2), 245–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics and PhilosophyWitten/Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany

Personalised recommendations