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Mental Causation and Searle’s Impossible Conception of Unconscious Intentionality

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Abstract:

In my article I evaluate Searle’s account of mental causation, in particular his account of the causal efficacy of unconscious intentional states. I argue that top-down causation and overdetermination are unsolved problems in Searle’s philosophy of mind, despite his assurances to the contrary. I also argue that there are conflicting claims involved in his account of mental causation and his account of the unconscious. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand how unconscious intentional states can be causally efficacious. My conclusion will be that if Searle’s conception of unconscious intentionality is to play a genuine role in the causal explanation of human action, it needs to be rethought.

Keywords: INTENTIONALITY; MENTAL CAUSATION; OVERDETERMINATION; SEARLE; UNCONSCIOUSNESS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09672550050083974

Publication date: 2000-07-01

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