# Causing Actions

By Paul M. Pietroski | Go to book overview

5 Personal Dualism

Let me begin with a quick review. Actions are tryings, which cause bodily motions. Tryings, like other intentionally characterized events, have Fregean contents. Event C caused event E if a singular event thought about C explains a singular event thought about E. A singular event thought is the Fregean sense of a sentence, such that for some condition Δ satisfied by exactly one event, it follows from the Davidsonian event analysis that the sentence is true iff ∃eΔe. One singular event thought explains another if: the first thought is an instance of the fact that an event of type T1 occurred; the second thought is an instance of the fact that an event of type T2 occurred; it is a (transition) law that cp[T1 → T2]—or alternatively, it is a law that cp[IC → (T1 → T2)], where IC is an initial condition that actually obtains; and the relevant instance of this law is Normal (i.e. not fortuitous), in that there is no uncancelled interference. To a first approximation, it is a ceteris paribus law that a person will try to Φ, if she wants Ψ to be the case and comes to believe that Φ-ing will make Ψ the case. 1 And I assume that when a person moves her body, the occurrence of her action/trying explains the relevant motion of her body, in that the trying and the motion constitute a Normal instance of a suitable cp law.

With this in mind, consider Nora's behaviour at the auction: she raised her arm, after coming to believe that raising her arm would make it the case that she buys a certain painting. If she wanted to buy the painting, and there were no uncancelled interfering factors, then the fact that Nora acquired her (conditional) belief explains why she tried to raise her hand; so the event of Nora's acquiring her belief caused the trying. Similarly, the trying caused the rising of Nora's arm. The causal sequence of events is:

Nora's bodily motion has mental causes. And I just sketched an account of how this is possible, without presupposing that Nora's mental events are neural events. (For simplicity, I ignore muscle contractions until Chapter 7 .) Thus, my proposed sufficient condition for (mental) causation

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Causing Actions

• Causing Actions iii
• Preface vii
• Contents ix
• Introduction 1
• 1: Actions as Inner Causes 18
• 2: Fregean Innocence 55
• 3: From Explanation to Causation 89
• 4: Other Things Being Equal 117
• 5: Personal Dualism 147
• 6: Modal Concerns 179
• 7: Natural Causes 216
• Appendix 246
• References 260
• Index 271
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