Agency, Mind, and Reductionism

Timothy O'Connor

in Persons and Causes

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153743
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867080 | DOI:
 Agency, Mind, and Reductionism

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Many contemporary theorists reject the notion of agent causation on the grounds that it conflicts with metaphysical Naturalism, a.k.a. the emerging scientific picture of the world. There is little basis for this claim. We must sharply distinguish the plausible claim that macrophysical phenomena arise out of and are causally sustained by microphysical events (’The Causal Unity of Nature Thesis’) from the far from evident claim that all such phenomena are constituted by more fundamental processes (’The Micro‐Macro Constitution Thesis’). Granted the former thesis, why accept the latter? The Constitution Thesis is not empirically established, nor does it follow from the Unity Thesis, as is shown by the possibility of some higher‐level features being emergent in a robust sense.

Keywords: consciousness; emergence; knowledge argument; microphysical constitution; Naturalism; phenomenal qualities; propensities; reductionism

Chapter.  9683 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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