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anomalous monism


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A doctrine in the philosophy of mind associated with Davidson. In his influential paper ‘Mental Events’ (1970), Davidson asked how the following three propositions could be made consistent: (i) mental events cause physical events, (ii) where there is causation there is lawlike regularity, (iii) there is no lawlike regularity connecting the mental and the physical. His solution was to identify mental events with physical events (hence monism), but to deny that the classification of events as mental gave us a description apt for framing lawlike generalizations (hence anomalous, or not lawlike). Critics have charged that on this account the fact that a physical event falls under a mental description has no bearing on its causal powers, which are there in virtue of its purely physical nature, so that the causal power of the mental is not really protected by the combination. But the charge has in turn been rebutted, with defenders pointing out that it is no insult to the causal power of a hurricane that there are no laws framed in terms of hurricanes and what they do.

(i) mental events cause physical events, (ii) where there is causation there is lawlike regularity, (iii) there is no lawlike regularity connecting the mental and the physical.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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