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Does the Causal Exclusion Argument Hold in a Probabilistic Setting? Assessing the Efficacy of Mental Causation in an Indeterministic World

Grant, Lisa; (2021) Does the Causal Exclusion Argument Hold in a Probabilistic Setting? Assessing the Efficacy of Mental Causation in an Indeterministic World. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis examines Kim’s Causal Exclusion Argument (CEA) against the existence of mental causation of physical effects, which I ultimately argue is unsound. I generalise the CEA into probabilistic terms as I assume that we live in a probabilistic world. This is because orthodox interpretations of Quantum Mechanics are in principle probabilistic. I argue that the CEA, at least in its probabilistic form, is unsound because the analogue version of the causal closure premise is false. If the world is probabilistic then this opens the door for mental causes to `top up’ (or lower) the probabilities of further physical events occurring. Thus the mental can be causally efficacious. Secondly, I put forward a positive argument in favour of mental causation based on the natural kindhood of mental properties. Each mental state has a corresponding brain state, both of which could be conceptualised as a kind. I will argue that mental kinds are more natural (albeit imperfectly so) than their corresponding brain states and therefore that it is the mental rather than brain states which are the better candidates to feature in scientific laws. So, mental states have causal efficacy. This branch of the argument can apply to worlds whether they’re deterministic or probabilistic. Thus, even if the reader does not share my assumption that the world is probabilistic, or doesn't agree with my rejection of causal closure, there are still some reasons to doubt the soundness of even the original deterministic CEA.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Does the Causal Exclusion Argument Hold in a Probabilistic Setting? Assessing the Efficacy of Mental Causation in an Indeterministic World
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132765
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