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Title: Causation and the mind : metaphysical presuppositions in the philosophy of mind
Author: Allen, Sophie Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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Mental causation and relationship between the mental and the physical are central issues m the philosophy of mind. This thesis investigates whether these disputes have been mislocated and can be traced to disparate metaphysical commitments which often remain implicit, such as ontological or conceptual disagreements, or to more primitive clashes of pre-theoretical intuition. To this end, the thesis aims to demonstrate the extent to which presuppositions about metaphysics and the philosophy of science, specifically those concerned with the characterisation of causation and explanation, influence the formulation of theories of mind. Two principal alternative proposals about the metaphysics of causation and explanation are discussed. These crucially diverge in their choice of causal ontology: in the first, causes and effects are taken to be properties or their instances (or structured complex entities partially constituted by these, such as facts); in the second, causes and effects are concrete particulars, most usually events. The difference between these options is, I suggest, not merely a disagreement about what causes are, but also leads to fundamental conflicts about the nature and ontological status of explanation, laws of nature and the properties which these connect, which, in turn, provides fertile ground for philosophical misunderstandings to arise. The two accounts are individually evaluated and then compared, initially with regard to their internal consistency, coherence, explanatory power and intuitive plausibility, and then with respect to their implications for the philosophy of mind. Although some metaphysical variations are found to be untenable, I conclude that both property theorists and event theorists can accommodate mental causation and provide an account of the relationship between the mental and the physical. However, since the property theorist is far more restricted in the account of the mind he can offer and requires more primitive, unanalysable presuppositions to sustain his metaphysical picture, I argue that the most credible causal ontology is one based upon events.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available