Anomalous Monism: Oscillating between Dogmas

Abstract

Davidson’s anomalous monism, his argument for the identity between mental and physical event tokens, has been frequently attacked, usually demanding a higher degree of physicalist commitment. My objection runs in the opposite direction: the identities inferred by Davidson from mental causation, the nomological character of causality and the anomaly of the mental are philosophically problematic and, more dramatically, incompatible with his famous argument against the third dogma of empiricism, the separation of content from conceptual scheme. Given the anomaly of the mental and the absence of psychophysical laws, there are no conceptual resources to relate mental and physical predicates. We fall in the third dogma if we claim that the very same token event is mental and physical. One of the premises must be rejected: I will claim that we do not need a law to subsume cause and effect to be entitled to speak of causation. Davidson has never offered an argument to back this premise. Against such a dogma I will sketch some ideas pointing towards a different conception of causality, singularist and undetachable from explanatory practices.

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Correspondence to M. De Pinedo.

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De Pinedo, M. Anomalous Monism: Oscillating between Dogmas. Synthese 148, 79–97 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-004-6218-2

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Keywords

  • Opposite Direction
  • Physical Event
  • Conceptual Scheme
  • Mental Causation
  • Event Token