Anomalous Monism And Supervenient Causation Essay Research

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Anomalous Monism And Supervenient Causation Essay, Research Paper In his article Mental Events, Donald Davidson attempts to reconcile some of our apprehensions with regard to mind-body interaction. The question before us is, how is it possible that mental events can be causally connected to physical events? Davidson begins his paper by outline three principles that he holds to be true, but at the same time appear to be contentious with each other:1. At least some mental events are causally connected to physical events.2. Where there is causality, there must be a lawful connection.3. There are no strict deterministic laws that govern mental events.Most philosophers would probably agree that these three principles lead to a contradiction. Yet all three appear to be true, how

can we reconcile this?Davidson thinks it is possible to show the consistency of the three principles by demonstrating a view of the mental and physical realms that contain no contradictions yet entail the three principles. The way that he does this is by explaining an identity between what is mental and what is physical.First, he asks us to consider what it means to say that an event is either physical or mental. He thinks that the “natural answer is that an event is physical if it is describable in purely physical vocabulary, mental if describable in mental terms.” (Davidson, 210) By his description, mental events then, are those events that have a mental description. Thus, verbs that express a propositional attitude such as intending, desiring, hoping, knowing, and the like

are mental verbs and contribute to mental description. Another way of looking at this is to say that such verbs are psychological verbs. Physical descriptions depend on an event being described in terms of who, what, where, when, and how.Working within this framework, Davidson goes on to identify four theories of the relation between mental and physical: Nomological monism, which seeks to describe all events as physical, nomological dualism, which is a form of parallelism. (Mental and physical events in parallel) Anomalous dualism, which “combines ontological dualism with the general failure of laws correlating the mental and the physical” (Davidson, 213) and finally his own view, anomalous monism.Anomalous monism is a theory that states that all events are physical, but

rejects nomological monism’s view that mental phenomena can be described in purely physical terms. This is a theory where mental characteristics are somehow dependent upon physical ones, yet is not reducible to physicalism. Under this view, all events are particulars, and it is possible that there may be more than one way to describe the event, there may exist both physical and mental descriptions of the same event. In the above way, Davidson thinks that anomalous monism can reconcile his original three principles: Causality and identity are relations between individual events no matter how described. But laws are linguistic; and so events can instantiate laws, and hence be explained or predicted in the light of laws, only as those events are described in one or another way.

(Davidson, 215) Thus, anomalous monism supplies a handy explanation of mental-physical causality without the three general principles described by Davidson at the beginning of his paper. Mental causal events can be described in both mental terms and physical terms. When described in mental terms, using only mental vocabulary, there can be no law-like causal connection to an event that is described only in physical terms. But when a mental event is described in physical (neurophysiological) terms, there can be a law-like connection to a physical-description-only event because they share a common vocabulary, and the description of the events can instantiate a law-like connection between the two. To summarize Davidson’s view, when law-like relations depend on descriptions of those