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The Waning of Materialism$
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Robert C. Koons and George Bealer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556182.001.0001

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Descartes' Revenge Part II: The Supervenience Argument Strikes Back

Descartes' Revenge Part II: The Supervenience Argument Strikes Back

(p.251) 12 Descartes' Revenge Part II: The Supervenience Argument Strikes Back
The Waning of Materialism

Neal Judisch

Oxford University Press

The most compelling reason to accept materialism in the philosophy of mind derives from our common commitment to mental causation: inasmuch as mental phenomena are causally efficacious, and inasmuch as whatever has a cause has a physical cause, there is considerable pressure to identify mental with physical phenomena. At the hands of Jaegwon Kim, this argument has been formulated in such a way as to force the choice between eliminativism, since causally inefficacious mental properties would be in some sense unreal; and reductionism, since mental properties are causally efficacious only if they can be physically reduced. This chapter shows that if Kim's argument against antireductionist theories of mind is successful, then his own reductionist theory falls victim to the same plight: for Kim's Supervenience Argument entails that a theory of mind salvages mental causation only if, on that theory, mental properties (1) are multiply realizable; (2) are physically reducible; and (3) have instances that are causally efficacious in virtue of being mental property-instances; yet Kim's reductionist theory is unable jointly to satisfy these conditions. The result is that the argument from mental causation is either too weak to force acceptance of materialism, or too strong to allow for the consistency of mental causation with any theory of mind but classical type physicalism, a theory with well-advertised problems of its own.

Keywords:   mental causation, Jaegwon Kim, mental property-instances, reductionism, supervenience argument

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