Physicalism and Mental Causation

The metaphysics of mind and action

Sven Walter and
Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.)

June 2003, 330 pages
ISBN 0 907845 460 (paperback), $29.90/£17.95
ISBN 0 907845 479 (hardback), $58/£35

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"This collection is an essential volume for the libraries of professional philosophers and graduate students working analytic metaphysics or philosophy of mind."
Justin D. Barnard, Metapsychology
"An impressive collection"  Network

Table of Contents
Sample Chapter (full text)
Pre-publication reviewers comments

Physicalism—the thesis that everything there is in the world, including our minds, is constituted by basic physical entities—has dominated the philosophy of mind during the last few decades. But although the conceptual foundations of the physicalist agenda—including a proper explication of notions such as ‘causation’, ‘determination’, ‘realization’ or even ‘physicalism’ itself—must be settled before more specific problems (e.g. the problems of mental causation and human agency) can be satisfactorily addressed, a comprehensive philosophical reflection on the relationships between the various key concepts of the debate on physicalism is yet missing. This book presents a range of essays on the conceptual foundations of physicalism, mental causation and human agency, written by established and leading authors in the field.

Table of Contents


Part I: Conceptual Foundations: Realization, Supervenience, and the Characterization of Physicalism

John Heil
Multiply Realized Properties
Carl Gillett
Non-Reductive Realization and Non-Reductive Identity: What Physicalism Does Not Entail
Gene Witmer
Multiple Realizability and Psychological Laws: Evaluating Kim’s Challenge
Paul Noordhof
Not Old . . . But Not That New Either: Explicability, Emergence, and the Characterisation of Materialism
John Bolender
A Farewell to Isms

Part II: Overdetermination and the Causal Closure of the Physical

E.J. Lowe
Physical Causal Closure and the Invisibility of Mental Causation
Andrew Melnyk
Some Evidence for Physicalism
Barbara Montero
Varieties of Causal Closure

Part III: Mental Causation and the Problem of Causal/Explanatory Exclusion

Peter Menzies
The Causal Efficacy of Mental States
Paul Raymont
Kim on Closure, Exclusion and Nonreductive Physicalism
Ausonio Marras
Methodological and Ontological Aspects of the Mental Causation Problem

Part IV: Causality and Human Agency

Noa Latham
Are There Any Non-Motivating Reasons for Action?
Ralf Stoecker
Climbers, Pigs and Wiggled Ears: The Problem of Waywardness in Action Theory
Terence Horgan, John Tienson, George Graham
The Phenomenology of First-Person Agency
Notes on Contributors
Name Index
Subject Index
Sample Chapter

Pre-publication Reviewers' Comments

This is a timely and well-conceived volume on a highly contested topic in analytic philosophy. Its perspicuous organization invites readers to think through the important issues surrounding the problem of mental causation. I recommend this exciting collection to anyone interested in metaphysics or the philosophy of mind.
LYNNE RUDDER BAKER, University of Massachussetts at Amherst

Three and half centuries after Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia challenged Descartes to explain “how the mind of a man can determine the bodily spirits in producing voluntary actions,” mental causation has re-emerged as a central problematic in the philosophy mind. The problem has far reaching implications  — for the nature of psychological explanation, the relationship between psychology and physical theory, and the possibility of human agency. This timely collection by Walter and Heckmann brings together in one volume original essays by exciting new faces as well as some well-known participants in the debate. These works represent cutting-edge research on a variety of issues involving mental causation, and will be the focal point of discussion over the years to come.
JAEGWON KIM, Brown University

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