6 Modal Concerns

Our concept of a person may not require that rationalizing causes have impersonal descriptions. But one might think that our concept of causation does require this. In one sense, my reply is ready: causation is the extensionalization of explanation. If a fact about event C explains (in the right way) a fact about event E, then C caused E; and given this thesis about causation, together with some claims about intentional explanation, one can adopt a non-Cartesian version of event dualism. But an obvious objection must be addressed. Given event dualism, bodily motions with mental causes are overdetermined; yet this seems wrong, especially in light of various counterfactual considerations. In this chapter, I argue that bodily motions can have neural and (distinct) mental causes without being objectionably overdetermined, so long as event dualists can maintain certain supervenience theses. This raises questions about the status of such theses—e.g. that the mental supervenes on the physical—and whether dualists can provide any explanation for these modal claims. I think dualists can provide as much explanation as required, once we are clear about what supervenience theses actually say.


1 Twice Explained, Twice Caused

Consider a paradigmatic case of overdetermination. Two assassins shoot Jones at the same time, and each shooting is a sufficient cause of his death. Or returning to an earlier analogy, imagine two lines of dominoes converging on a single domino. If the timing was just right, the toppling of the final domino would be overdetermined by two distinct topplings. Now recall the picture associated with the view of mental causation I am urging: where B is a bodily motion with neural causes and distinct mental causes. My claim is that the mental causes (represented in bold) are members of

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Causing Actions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • 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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