Non-reductive physicalism, mental causation and the nature of actions

In H. Leitgeb & A. Hieke (eds.), Reduction: Between the Mind and the Brain. Ontos (2009)
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Abstract
Given some reasonable assumptions concerning the nature of mental causation, non-reductive physicalism faces the following dilemma. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects (given the causal closure of the physical). If mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided if we drop the dichotomy between physical and mental events. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. But actions are neither mental nor physical events. They are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductive physicalism without downward causation. The tenability of this view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that non-reductive physicalism is committed to downward causation. Appealing to the nature of actions, I will argue that this commitment can be avoided.
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