Can Supervenience and “Non‐Strict” Laws Save Anomalous Monism?

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI:
Can Supervenience and “Non‐Strict” Laws Save Anomalous Monism?

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“Can Supervenience and ‘Non‐Strict’ Laws Save Anomalous Monism?” is a reply to Donald Davidson's defense of his anomalous monism against the charge that it leads to epiphenomenalism. In “Thinking Causes” (in Mental Causation, ed. John Heil and Alfred Mele, 1993), Davidson claims that non‐strict psychophysical laws are sufficient to underwrite mental causation, and also that mind‐body supervenience can vindicate the causal relevance of mentality. This paper argues that Davidson is mistaken in his claims, and that even if Davidson were successful in restoring mental causes to anomalous monism, he would run afoul of the problem of causal exclusion. Moreover, Davidson's defense introduces some unwelcome tensions into his overall view of the mind‐body problem.

Keywords: anomalous monism; causal relevance; causal efficacy; mental causation; epiphenomenalism; supervenience; strict law; non‐strict law; reduction; causal exclusion

Chapter.  3485 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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