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.
KeywordsMental 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).
- 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
- 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
- Bennett K (2003) Why the exclusion problem seems intractable, and how, just maybe, to tract it. Noˆus 37(3), 471–497.Google Scholar
- Collins J, Hall E, Paul L (2004) Causation and counterfactuals. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- 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
- Harbecke J (2008) Mental causation. Investigating the mind’s powers in a natural world. Frankfurt am Maine: Ontos.Google Scholar
- Harbecke J (2010) The problem of mental causation formalized. Mind and Matter 8(1), 63–91.Google Scholar
- Heil J, Mele A (1991) Mental causes. American Philosophical Quarterly 28(1), 61–71.Google Scholar
- Hume, D (2000/1748) An enquiry concerning human understanding: a critical edition. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
- 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
- LePore E, Loewer B (1987) Mind matters. The Journal of Philosophy 84(11), 630–642.Google Scholar
- Lewis D (1973b) Counterfactuals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis D (1986) Philosophical papers, volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D (2004) Void and object. In Collins J et al. (Eds.) Causation and Counterfactuals, pp. 277–290. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Loewer B (2001). Review of J. Kim, Mind in a physical world. The Journal of Philosophy 98(6), 315–324.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- Mackie J (1974). The cement of the Universe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- McLaughlin B, Bennett K (2008). Supervenience. In Zalta E N (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 edn.).Google Scholar
- Mills E (1996). Interactionism and overdetermination. American Philosophical Quarterly 33(1), 105–117.Google Scholar
- Raatikainen P (2006). Mental causation, interventions, and contrasts (unpublished). URL: http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/praatika/mental%20causation.doc.
- Rupert R (2006). Functionalism, mental causation, and the problem of metaphysically necessary effects1. Noˆus 40(2), 256–283.Google Scholar
- 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
- Shoemaker S (2003/1980). Causality and properties. In Identity, cause, and mind. philosophical essays, pp. 206–233. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Weslake B (2009). Exclusion excluded (unpublished). URL: http://www.rochester.edu/college/faculty/bweslake/research/papers/weslake_exclusion.pdf .