Appendix

The Semantic Wages of Neuralism

In motivating event dualism, I focused mainly on three related ideas: rationalizing causes are causes of a special sort; persons are individuals of a special sort if only because we often act freely; and there is something distinctive about causation in the presence of freedom. But one might reply that rationalizing causes are simply causes with propositional contents; persons are individuals whose behaviour can often be explained by reference to their reasons; and because freedom is linked to reason, we regard subjects of rationalizing explanations as loci of freedom. So if some biochemical events have propositional contents, one can say that such events are distinctively mental, since they have contents, even though such causes have impersonal descriptions. Thus, one might hope to weaken the case for event dualism by arguing that biochemical events can have contents. (I assume that events can have contents; see Chapter 3 . And for simplicity, I use 'event' broadly in this appendix to cover all eventualities, including states.)

One can, however, turn this line of thought on its head: (i) no neural events have contents; (ii) some mental events have contents; hence, (iii) neuralism is false. Given an independent argument for neuralism, (ii) would tell against (i). But absent such argument, (i) is prima facie plausible. Unlike Othello's coming to believe that Desdemona loved Cassio, biochemical occurrences do not seem to be meaningful. 1 Neuralists will say that some biochemical events have meanings nonetheless; and I cannot prove otherwise. Still, neuralists face a serious difficulty. They owe an account of content, according to which biochemical events can have contents. Thus, they appear to owe a naturalistic account according to which: e has proposition P as its content if e bears the right non-intentionally specifiable relation to P. For it seems that nothing less will explain how biochemical events could have the semantic properties of mental events; whereas event dualists can avoid this implausibly ambitious form of reductionism

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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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