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The Causal Autonomy of the Special Sciences

In Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press (2010)

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  1. Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - 2016 - Noûs (4):852-883.
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. In this paper, I propose a unified framework for modelling levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and show that it can accommodate descriptive, explanatory, and ontological notions of levels. I further illustrate the usefulness of this framework by applying it to some salient philosophical questions: (1) Is there a linear hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the bottom? And (...)
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  • Perceiving the World Outside: How to Solve the Distality Problem for Informational Teleosemantics.Peter Schulte - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):349-369.
    Perceptual representations have distal content: they represent external objects and their properties, not light waves or retinal images. This basic fact presents a fundamental problem for ‘input-oriented’ theories of perceptual content. As I show in the first part of this paper, this even holds for what is arguably the most sophisticated input-oriented theory to date, namely Karen Neander's informational teleosemantics. In the second part of the paper, I develop a new version of informational teleosemantics, drawing partly on empirical psychology, and (...)
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  • Fodor on Multiple Realizability and Nonreductive Physicalism: Why the Argument Does Not Work.José Luis Bermúdez & Arnon Cahen - forthcoming - Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science.
    This paper assesses Fodor’s well-known argument from multiple realizability to nonreductive physicalism. Recent work has brought out that the empirical case for cross-species multiple realizability is weak at best and so we consider whether the argument can be rebooted using a “thin” notion of intra-species multiple realizability, taking individual neural firing patterns to be the realizers of mental events. We agree that there are no prospects for reducing mental events to individual neural firing patterns. But there are more plausible candidates (...)
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  • An Argument for Power Inheritance.Umut Baysan - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly (263):pqv126.
    Abstract: Non-reductive physicalism is commonly understood as the view that mental properties are realized by physical properties. Here, I argue that the realization relation in question is a power inheritance relation: if a property P realizes a property Q, then the causal powers of Q are a subset of the causal powers of P. Whereas others have motivated this claim by appealing to its theoretical benefits, I argue that it is in fact entailed by two theses: (i) realization is a (...)
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  • Causal Exclusion and Downward Counterfactuals.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (5):1031-1049.
    One of the main line of responses to the infamous causal exclusion problem has been based on the counterfactual account of causation. However, arguments have begun to surface to the effect that the counterfactual theory is in fact ill-equipped to solve the exclusion problem due to its commitment to downward causation. This argumentation is here critically analysed. An analysis of counterfactual dependence is presented and it is shown that if the semantics of counterfactuals is taken into account carefully enough, the (...)
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  • The Exclusion Problem and Counterfactual Theories of Causation.Yee Hang Sze - unknown
    Jaegwon Kim famously challenged non-reductive materialism/physicalism, a popular stance in the philosophy of mind, with the so-called exclusion argument. The argument is alleged to show that if NRM is true, then mental properties cannot be causes. In recent years, there have been many reactions to the exclusion problem based on counterfactual accounts of causation. In particular, List and Menzies gave an interesting response based on a Lewis-style counterfactual theory of causation, with some modifications made to Lewis’s semantics of counterfactuals. In (...)
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  • Methodological Individualism and Holism in Political Science: A Reconciliation.Christian List & Kai Spiekermann - 2013 - American Political Science Review 107 (4):629-643.
    Political science is divided between methodological individualists, who seek to explain political phenomena by reference to individuals and their interactions, and holists (or nonreductionists), who consider some higher-level social entities or properties such as states, institutions, or cultures ontologically or causally significant. We propose a reconciliation between these two perspectives, building on related work in philosophy. After laying out a taxonomy of different variants of each view, we observe that (i) although political phenomena result from underlying individual attitudes and behavior, (...)
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  • Transitivity and Proportionality in Causation.Neil McDonnell - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):1211-1229.
    It is commonly assumed that causation is transitive and in this paper I aim to reconcile this widely-held assumption with apparent evidence to the contrary. I will discuss a familiar approach to certain well-known counterexamples, before introducing a more resistant sort of case of my own. I will then offer a novel solution, based on Yablo’s proportionality principle, that succeeds in even these more resistant cases. There is a catch, however. Either proportionality is a constraint on which causal claims are (...)
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  • Causal Exclusion and the Limits of Proportionality.Neil McDonnell - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (6):1459-1474.
    Causal exclusion arguments are taken to threaten the autonomy of the special sciences, and the causal efficacy of mental properties. A recent line of response to these arguments has appealed to “independently plausible” and “well grounded” theories of causation to rebut key premises. In this paper I consider two papers which proceed in this vein and show that they share a common feature: they both require causes to be proportional to their effects. I argue that this feature is a bug, (...)
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  • Can The Mental Be Causally Efficacious?Panu Raatikainen - 2013 - In K. Talmont-Kaminski M. Milkowski (ed.), Regarding the Mind, Naturally: Naturalist Approaches to the Sciences of the Mental. Cambridge Scholars Press.
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  • Demystifying Emergence.David Yates - 2016 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3:809-841.
    Are the special sciences autonomous from physics? Those who say they are need to explain how dependent special science properties could feature in irreducible causal explanations, but that’s no easy task. The demands of a broadly physicalist worldview require that such properties are not only dependent on the physical, but also physically realized. Realized properties are derivative, so it’s natural to suppose that they have derivative causal powers. Correspondingly, philosophical orthodoxy has it that if we want special science properties to (...)
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  • Neural Synchrony and the Causal Efficacy of Consciousness.David Yates - forthcoming - Topoi:1-16.
    The purpose of this paper is to address a well-known dilemma for physicalism. If mental properties are type identical to physical properties, then their causal efficacy is secure, but at the cost of ruling out mentality in creatures very different to ourselves. On the other hand, if mental properties are multiply realizable, then all kinds of creatures can instantiate them, but then they seem to be causally redundant. The causal exclusion problem depends on the widely held principle that realized properties (...)
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  • The Proportionality of Common Sense Causal Claims.Jennifer McDonald - unknown
    This paper defends strong proportionality against what I take to be its principal objection – that proportionality fails to preserve common sense causal intuitions – by articulating independently plausible constraints on how to represent causal situations. I first assume an interventionist formulation of proportionality, following Woodward. This views proportionality as a relational constraint on variable selection in causal modeling that requires that changes in the cause variable line up with those in the effect variable. I then argue that the principal (...)
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  • Kim on Causation and Mental Causation.Panu Raatikainen - 2018 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 25 (2):22–47.
    Jaegwon Kim’s views on mental causation and the exclusion argument are evaluated systematically. Particular attention is paid to different theories of causation. It is argued that the exclusion argument and its premises do not cohere well with any systematic view of causation.
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  • Interventions on Causal Exclusion.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2014 - Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):255-263.
    Two strains of interventionist responses to the causal exclusion argument are reviewed and critically assessed. On the one hand, one can argue that manipulating supervenient mental states is an effective strategy for manipulating the subvenient physical states, and hence should count as genuine causes to the subvenient physical states. But unless the supervenient and subvenient states manifest some difference in their manipulability conditions, there is no reason to treat them as distinct, which in turn goes against the basic assumption of (...)
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  • Interventionism and Supervenience: A New Problem and Provisional Solution.Markus I. Eronen & Daniel S. Brooks - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2):185-202.
    The causal exclusion argument suggests that mental causes are excluded in favour of the underlying physical causes that do all the causal work. Recently, a debate has emerged concerning the possibility of avoiding this conclusion by adopting Woodward's interventionist theory of causation. Both proponents and opponents of the interventionist solution crucially rely on the notion of supervenience when formulating their positions. In this article, we consider the relation between interventionism and supervenience in detail and argue that importing supervenience relations into (...)
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  • Does the Interventionist Notion of Causation Deliver Us From the Fear of Epiphenomenalism?Tuomas K. Pernu - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2):157-172.
    This article reviews the causal exclusion argument and confronts it with some recently proposed refutations based on the interventionist account of causation. I first show that there are several technical and interpretative difficulties in applying the interventionist account to the exclusion issue. Different ways of accommodating the two to one another are considered and all are shown to leave the issue without a fully satisfactory resolution. Lastly, I argue that, on the most consistent construal, the interventionist approach can provide grounds (...)
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  • Difference-Making, Closure and Exclusion.Brad Weslake - forthcoming - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford University Press.
    Consider the following causal exclusion principle: For all distinct properties F and F* such that F* supervenes on F, F and F* do not both cause a property G. Peter Menzies and Christian List have proven that it follows from a natural conception of causation as difference-making that this exclusion principle is not generally true. Rather, it turns out that whether the principle is true is a contingent matter. In addition, they have shown that in a wide range of empirically (...)
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  • On the Metaphysics of Mental Causation.Dwayne Moore & Neil Campbell - 2015 - Abstracta 8 (2):3-16.
    In a series of recent papers, Cynthia MacDonald and Graham MacDonald offer a resolution to the twin problems of mental causation and mental causal relevance. They argue that the problem of mental causation is soluble via token monism – mental events are causally efficacious physical events. At the same time, the problem of mental causal relevance is solved by combining this causally efficacious mental property instance with the systematic co-variation between distinct mental properties of the cause and the action-theoretic properties (...)
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  • Rendering Interventionism and Non‐Reductive Physicalism Compatible.Michael Baumgartner - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (1):1-27.
    In recent years, the debate on the problem of causal exclusion has seen an ‘interventionist turn’. Numerous non-reductive physicalists (e.g. Shapiro and Sober 2007) have argued that Woodward's (2003) interventionist theory of causation provides a means to empirically establish the existence of non-reducible mental-to-physical causation. By contrast, Baumgartner (2010) has presented an interventionist exclusion argument showing that interventionism is in fact incompatible with non-reductive physicalism. In response, a number of revised versions of interventionism have been suggested that are compatible with (...)
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  • Counterfactuals and Counterparts: Defending a Neo-Humean Theory of Causation.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Dissertation, Macquarie University and University of Glasgow
    Whether there exist causal relations between guns firing and people dying, between pedals pressed and cars accelerating, or between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, is typically taken to be a mind-independent, objective, matter of fact. However, recent contributions to the literature on causation, in particular theories of contrastive causation and causal modelling, have undermined this central causal platitude by relativising causal facts to models or to interests. This thesis flies against the prevailing wind by arguing that we must pay (...)
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  • Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - manuscript
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. This paper presents a framework for studying levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and discuss several applications, some of which refer to descriptive or explanatory levels while others refer to ontological levels. I illustrate the usefulness of this framework by bringing it to bear on some familiar philosophical questions. Is there a hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the (...)
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  • Laws, Causation and Dynamics at Different Levels.Jeremy Butterfield - 2012 - Interface Focus 2 (1):101-114.
    I have two main aims. The first is general, and more philosophical. The second is specific, and more closely related to physics. The first aim is to state my general views about laws and causation at different ”levels’. The main task is to understand how the higher levels sustain notions of law and causation that ”ride free’ of reductions to the lower level or levels. I endeavour to relate my views to those of other symposiasts. The second aim is to (...)
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  • Causation and Mental Causation: Standpoints and Intersections.Raffaella Campaner & Carlo Gabbani - 2015 - Humana Mente 8 (29).
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  • The Causal Closure Argument is No Threat to Non-Reductive Physicalism.Peter Menzies - 2015 - Humana Mente 8 (29).
    Non-reductive physicalism is the view that mental events cause other events in virtue of their mental properties and that mental properties supervene on, without being identical to, physical properties. Jaegwon Kim has presented several much-discussed arguments against this view. But the much simpler causal closure argument, which purports to establish that every mental property is identical to a physical property, has received less attention than Kim’s arguments. This paper aims to show how a non-reductive physicalist should rebut the causal closure (...)
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  • Naturalizing the Content of Desire.Peter Schulte - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):161-174.
    Desires, or directive representations, are central components of human and animal minds. Nevertheless, desires are largely neglected in current debates about the naturalization of representational content. Most naturalists seem to assume that some version of the standard teleological approach, which identifies the content of a desire with a specific kind of effect that the desire has the function of producing, will turn out to be correct. In this paper I argue, first, that this common assumption is unjustified, since the standard (...)
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  • Why Change the Subject? On Collective Epistemic Agency.András Szigeti - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (4):843-864.
    This paper argues that group attitudes can be assessed in terms of standards of rationality and that group-level rationality need not be due to individual-level rationality. But it also argues that groups cannot be collective epistemic agents and are not collectively responsible for collective irrationality. I show that we do not need the concept of collective epistemic agency to explain how group-level irrationality can arise. Group-level irrationality arises because even rational individuals can fail to reason about how their attitudes will (...)
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  • What is the Exclusion Problem?Jeff Engelhardt - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (2):205-232.
    The philosophical literature contains at least three formulations of the problem of causal exclusion. Although each of the three most common formulations targets theories according to which some effects have ‘too many determiners’, no one is reducible to either of the others. This article proposes two ‘new’ exclusion problems and suggests that exclusion is not a single problem but a family of problems unified by the situations they problematize. It is shown, further, that for three of the most popular attempts (...)
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  • Giving Up on Convergence and Autonomy: Why the Theories of Psychology and Neuroscience Are Codependent as Well as Irreconcilable.Eric Hochstein - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A:1-19.
    There is a long-standing debate in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of science regarding how best to interpret the relationship between neuroscience and psychology. It has traditionally been argued that either the two domains will evolve and change over time until they converge on a single unified account of human behaviour, or else that they will continue to work in isolation given that they identify properties and states that exist autonomously from one another (due to the multiple-realizability of psychological (...)
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  • The Deviance in Deviant Causal Chains.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):162-170.
    Causal theories of action, perception and knowledge are each beset by problems of so-called ‘deviant’ causal chains. For each such theory, counterexamples are formed using odd or co-incidental causal chains to establish that the theory is committed to unpalatable claims about some intentional action, about a case of veridical perception or about the acquisition of genuine knowledge. In this paper I will argue that three well-known examples of a deviant causal chain have something in common: they each violate Yablos proportionality (...)
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  • Emergence and Interacting Hierarchies in Shock Physics.Mark Pexton - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):91-122.
    It is argued that explanations of shock waves display explanatory emergence in two different ways. Firstly, the use of discontinuities to model jumps in flow variables is an example of “physics avoidance”. This is where microphysical details can be ignored in an abstract model thus allowing us access to modal information which cannot be attained in principle in any other way. Secondly, Whitham’s interleaving criterion for continuous shock structure is an example of the way different characteristic scales interact in shock (...)
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  • Causal Exclusion and Multiple Realizations.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):525-530.
    A critical analysis of recent interventionist responses to the causal exclusion problem is presented. It is argued that the response can indeed offer a solution to the problem, but one that is based on renouncing the multiple realizability thesis. The account amounts to the rejection of nonreductive physicalism and would thus be unacceptable to many. It is further shown that if the multiple realizability thesis is brought back in and conjoined with the interventionist notion of causation, inter-level causation is ruled (...)
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