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The causal inefficacy of content

Segal, G. M. A. (2009) The causal inefficacy of content. Mind and Language, 24 (1). pp. 80-102. ISSN 1468-0017

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0017.2008.01354.x

Abstract/Summary

The paper begins with the assumption that psychological event tokens are identical to or constituted from physical events. It then articulates a familiar apparent problem concerning the causal role of psychological properties. If they do not reduce to physical properties, then either they must be epiphenomenal or any effects they cause must also be caused by physical properties, and hence be overdetermined. It then argues that both epiphenomenalism and over-determinationism are prima facie perfectly reasonable and relatively unproblematic views. The paper proceeds to argue against Kim’s (Kim, 2000, 2005) attempt to articulate a plausible version of reductionism. It is then argued that psychological properties, along with paradigmatically causally efficacious macro-properties, such as toughness, are causally inefficacious in respect of their possessor’s typical effects, because they are insufficiently distinct from those effects. It is finally suggested that the distinction between epiphenomenalism and overdeterminationism may be more terminological than real.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:31254
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell

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