Mental causation and counterfactuals: A new argument for the type-identity thesis

José Luis Bermúdez, Arnon Cahen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Since the causal efficacy of conscious mental events seems undeniable, some philosophers committed to non-reductive physicalism have rejected the causal closure of the physical. Distinguishing causation proper from causal sufficiency, they argue that, in suitable circumstances, mental causes can exclude physical ones, thus preserving mental causation. Those higher-level properties stand in relations of counterfactual dependence to actions that typically mirror those of conscious mental events. A familiar line of argument proceeds from the claim that mental states and events are irreducible to physical states and events to the claim that the mental is epiphenomenal. Furthermore, by the revised exclusion principle, the neural realizer is causally excluded from being the cause of the moving of the hand. Attending to the kinds of causal laws found in neuroscience gives reason to suppose that the actual physical realizers of conscious mental events involve higher-level properties of populations of neurons that are themselves instantiated by specific neural firing patterns.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationConsciousness and the Ontology of Properties
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781351598903
ISBN (Print)9781138097865
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Taylor & Francis.


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