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Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Action

White, Andrea Suzanne (2018) Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Action. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The subject of this dissertation is the problem of mental causation: the problem of how the mental is able to causally interact with the physical. I show that the problem of mental causation, as it is presented in contemporary philosophy of mind, is a pseudo-problem. My claim is that contemporary philosophy of mind has misidentified what it is about mental causation that we need, but struggle, to understand. This is because contemporary philosophy of mind labours under a misapprehension of what mental causation is supposed to be. In most discussions of the problem of mental causation, mental causation is presented as a cause-effect relation between mental and physical entities. I call this understanding of mental causation the relational understanding of mental causation: Relational understanding of mental causation: mental causation is a matter of mental items (events, processes or states) standing in causal relations to physical events, e.g. bodily movements. The relational understanding of mental causation is widely endorsed largely because it is thought essential to our conception of ourselves as agents who act intentionally and who bear moral responsibility. I argue that while intentional action does entail the existence of causation which involves mentality – something which is worthy of the name ‘mental causation’ – the mental causation intentional action presupposes ought not to be understood in relational terms. When we say that someone acted intentionally because of what she believed, desired or intended, the concepts belief, desire and intention do not refer to items which stand in causal relations to bodily movements. I will defend this thesis by examining metaphysics of action and the nature of agency.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Agency, Action, Mental Causation, Intentional Action, Causation, Processes, Process, Events, States, Physicalism
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745560
Depositing User: Ms Andrea Suzanne White
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2018 14:44
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20501

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