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Phenomenal judgment and mental causation

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Abstract:

This paper defends and develops an argument against epiphenomenalism, broadly construed. I argue first for a definition of epiphenomenalism which includes ‘non-reductive’ materialism as well as classical dualistic epiphenomenalism. I then present an argument that if epiphenomenalism were true it would be impossible to know about or even refer to our conscious states -- and therefore impossible even to formulate epiphenomenalism. David Chalmers has defended epiphenomenalism against such arguments; I consider this defence and attempt to show that it fails. I conclude that an adequate account of mental causation requires us to abandon the principle of the causal closure of the physical, and attempt to rebut charges that it would be ‘unscientific’ to do so.

Keywords: Chalmers, D.; Foster, J.; epiphenomenalism; top-down causation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire, Watford Campus, Wall Hall, Aldenham, Herts WD2 8AT, UK.

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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