Book

Causing Actions

Paul M. Pietroski

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252763
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598234 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252769.001.0001
Causing Actions

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When a person acts for a reason, mental events have causal effects. This makes it tempting, given various metaphysical considerations, to identify each (human) mental event with some biochemical event. But this token identity thesis is not mandatory and it is implausible. We can instead adopt a non‐Cartesian form of dualism, according to which many mental events are causes distinct from any biochemical events, but persons are spatiotemporal things with physical and mental properties (that supervene on physical properties). Actions are themselves mental events (tryings) that typically cause bodily motions, which also have biochemical causes; and actions are typically caused by other mental events. This does not lead to an objectionable form of overdetermination, given the proposed sufficient condition for causation, which is stated in terms of explanation. An especially relevant form of explanation involves subsuming events under ceteris paribus laws. The overall account avoids objections to standard covering‐law (and regularity) conceptions of causation. An appendix addresses questions about mental content, and how such questions bear on the token identity thesis.

Keywords: action; agency; causation; cause; ceteris paribus laws; dualism; mental causation; mental content; mental events; overdetermination; philosophy of action; philosophy of mind; Paul Pietroski; supervenience

Book.  284 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Causing Actions

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Actions as Inner Causes in Causing Actions

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Fregean Innocence in Causing Actions

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Personal Dualism in Causing Actions

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Modal Concerns in Causing Actions

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Natural Causes in Causing Actions

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