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Evolution and Epiphenomenalism

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Abstract:

This paper addresses the question whether evolutionary principles are compatible with epiphenomenalism, and argues for an affirmative answer. A general summary of epiphenomenalism is provided, along with certain specifications relevant to the issues of this paper. The central argument against compatibility is stated and rebutted. A specially powerful version of the argument, due to William James (1890), is stated. The apparent power of this argument is explained as resulting from a problem about our understanding of pleasure and an equivocation on 'explanation'. Finally, an argument by Plantinga (2004), which applies to beliefs rather than phenomenal qualities, is stated and rebutted.

Keywords: Alvin Plantinga; William James; phenomenal qualities; pleasure; semantic epiphenomenalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA., Email: wsrob@iastate.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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