Acta Analytica

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 231–246

Varieties of Multiple Antecedent Cause



A great deal has been written over the past decade defending ‘higher-level’ causes by arguing that overdetermination is more complex than many philosophers initially thought. Although two shooters overdetermine the death of a firing squad victim, a baseball and its parts do not overdetermine the breaking of a window. But while these analyses of overdetermination have no doubt been fruitful, the focus on overdetermination—while ignoring other varieties of causal relation—has limited the discussion. Many of the cases of interest resemble joint causes or a cause necessitating a simultaneous epiphenomenon as much as they resemble overdeterminers. If we are to fully understand higher-level causation, we need to distinguish it from these causal relations as well. This paper is dedicated to the task, focusing especially on the ‘threat’ that higher-level causes are epiphenomena necessitated by lower-level causes.


Mental causation Non-fundamentalia Overdetermination Epiphenomena Causal exclusion Non-reductive physicalism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baxter, D. (1988a). Identity in the loose and popular sense. Mind, 97.Google Scholar
  2. Baxter, D. (1988b). Many-one identity. Philosophical Papers, 17, 193–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, J. (1988). Events and their Names. Hackett Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, K. (2003). Why the exclusion problem seems intractable, and how, just maybe, to tract it. Nous, 37(3), 471–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett, K. (2008). Exclusion again. In J. Hohwy, and J. Kallestrup (Eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation, chapter 14, pages 280–306. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Blackburn, S. (1991). Losing your mind: Physics, identity, and folk burglar protection. In Essays in Quasi-Realism, pages 229–254. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Burge, T. (1993). Mind-body causation and explanatory practice. In J. Heil, and A. Mele (Eds.), Mental Causation, pages 97–120. Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, K. (1990). Abstract Particulars. Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Carroll, J. W., & Carter, W. R. (2005). An unstable eliminativism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 86(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldman, A. I. (1969). The compatibility of mechanism and purpose. Philosophical Review, 78(4), 468–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harbecke, J. (2009). Mental Causation: Investigating the Mind’s Powers in a Natural World. Ontos Verlag.Google Scholar
  12. Hitchcock, C. (1993). A generalized probabilistic theory of causal relevance. Synthese, 97, 335–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hitchcock, C. (1995). The mishap at reichenbach fall: Singular vs. general causation. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, 78, 257–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hitchcock, C. (1996). The role of contrast in causal and explanatory claims. Synthese, 107, 395–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Horgan, T. (1998). Kim on mental causation and causal exclusion. Philosophical Perspec- tives, 11, 165–184.Google Scholar
  16. Kallestrup, J. (2006). The causal exclusion argument. Philosophical Studies: An Inter- national Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, 131(2), 459–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kim, J. (1989). Mechanism, purpose, and explanatory exclusion. Philosophical Perspectives, 3, 77–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kim, J. (1993). Events as property exemplifications. In Supervenience and Mind, chapter 3, pages 33–53. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kim, J. (1998). Mind in a Physical World. Representation and Mind. The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kroedel, T. (2008). Mental causation as multiple causation. Philosophical Studies, 139(1), 125–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lewis, D. (1991). Parts of Classes. Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. MacDonald, C. and MacDonald, G. (1986). Mental causes and expla- nation of action. In L. Stevenson, R. Squires and J. Haldane (Eds.), Mind, causation, and action. Blackwell.Google Scholar
  23. Malcolm, N. (1968). The conceivability of mechanism. Philosophical Review, LXXVII.Google Scholar
  24. Marcus, E. (2001). Mental causation: Unnaturalized but not unnatural. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 63(1), 57–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marras, A. (2007). Kim’s supervenience argument and nonreductive physicalism. Erkennt- nis, 66(3), 305–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mellor, D. (1995). The Facts of Causation. Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  27. Merricks, T. (2001). Objects and Persons. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ney, A. (2007). Can an appeal to constitution solve the exclusion problem? Pacific Philosoph- ical Quarterly, 88, 486–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Noordhof, P. (1997). Making the change: the functionalist’s way. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 48, 233–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pereboom, D. (2002). Robust nonreductive materialism. Journal of Philosophy, XCIX, 499–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pereboom, D., & Kornblith, H. (1991). The metaphysics of irreducibility. Philosophical Studies, 63, 125–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schaffer, J. (2005). Contrastive causation. Philosophical Review, 114(3), 297–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shoemaker, S. (2004). Realization and mental causation. In Identity, Cause, and Mind: Expanded Edition. Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Sider, T. (2003). What’s so bad about overdetermination? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 67, 719–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sider, T. (2007). Parthood. Philosophical Review, 116, 51–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thomasson, A. L. (2006). Metaphysical arguments against ordinary objects. Philo- sophical Quarterly, 56(224), 340–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Van Fraassen, B. (1980). The Scientific Image. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Wilson, J. (2009). Determination, realization and mental causation. Philosophical Studies, 145(1), 149–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Witmer, D. G. (2003). Functionalism and causal exclusion. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 84(2), 198–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yablo, S. (1992). Mental causation. Philosophical Review, 101(2), 245–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yablo, S. (1997). Wide causation. Philosophical Perspectives, 11, 251–281.Google Scholar
  42. Yi, B.-U. (1999). Is mereology ontologically innocent? Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, 93(2), 141–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySiena Heights UniversityAdrianUSA

Personalised recommendations