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Aristotelian Causal Pluralism and Mental Causation

Cole, Marc William (2019) Aristotelian Causal Pluralism and Mental Causation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In my thesis, I argue that Aristotle's causal pluralism in conjunction with his hylomorphic account of mental states solves the exclusion problems for mental causation. The exclusion problems are the result of a causal tension between the principle of Causal Closure (the thesis that caused physical events have sufficient physical causes) and the principle of Anti-reductionism (the thesis that mental properties and physical properties are distinct). The first exclusion problem is that Causal Closure excludes any non-physical causal influences on physical effects. The second exclusion problem shows that if one also holds any version of supervenience theory between mental and physical properties, mental states cannot cause other mental states. Denying either Causal Closure or Anti-reductionism would help to solve the problem. Many consider Causal Closure in a stronger position than Anti-reductionism. However, I argue that there is good reason to deny Causal Closure and retain Anti-reductionism. This is only the first step. This just means that other, non-physical causes can influence the physical domain. But it says nothing about what these causes are or how they are related to their effects and perhaps other causes. I suggest that a way forward is through causal pluralism, but, after putting forward a version of causal pluralism, I show it is still unclear how causes are related to other causes; in particular, how a mental cause is related to its underlying neural state. I argue that Aristotle's hylomorphism helps with understanding how a mental cause is related to its underlying base, and his causal pluralism helps with how to understand a plurality of causes in mental causation. Aristotle's metaphysics of causation show how each of the causes are related to one another and how they are related to their effects. These insights are applied to mental causation and the exclusion problems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aristotle, Philosophy of Mind, Ancient Philosophy, Mental Causation
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.789417
Depositing User: Marc William Cole
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 15:23
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24513

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