Chapter

Conceptual Causation: Some Elementary Reflections

Colin McGinn

in Knowledge and Reality

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251582
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598012 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199251584.003.0008
 Conceptual Causation: Some Elementary Reflections

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Building on the ‘weak externalist’ position suggested in ‘The Structure of Content’ and developed in Mental Content, McGinn considers the topic of conceptual causation: in particular, the intentionality involved in a concept bringing about a behavioural effect. McGinn's main thesis—that conceptual causation ‘involves’ intentionality in the sense that a ‘mental power comes harnessed to a worldly parameter’—relies heavily on a distinction between two features of causation: causal parameters (i.e. the context in which a causal event occurs: including the object, place, and time) and causal powers (i.e. the properties of the objects which ‘drive nature's motor’).

Keywords: causal explanation; causation; concepts; content; externalism; Fodor; intentionality; narrow content; psychological explanation; Putnam; representation; Twin Earth; wide content

Chapter.  8088 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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