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Mental Causation

Gibb, S.C.

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How could mental entities causally affect, or be affected by, physical entities? Identifying a relationship between mental and physical entities that is both consistent with their causal interaction and independently plausible is one of the perennial problems in the philosophy of mind. In the contemporary mental causation debate, there is not one single problem of mental causation, but several. These include the problem of psychophysical causation generated by the causal closure argument, the Davidsonian problem of how one can allow psychophysical causal interaction given the anomalism of the mental, Kim’s ‘pairing problem’ for substance dualists, and the problem of the causal relevance of mental content. In this paper, I focus on the causal closure argument (since discussion of it has dominated the contemporary mental causation debate) and survey some of the important recent responses to it. I begin by considering the problem of mental causation that this argument presents for dualists and for physicalists (§1). I then survey non-reductive physicalist responses (§2) and dualist responses (§3).


Gibb, S. (2014). Mental Causation. Analysis, 74(2), 327-338.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2013
Publicly Available Date Jun 12, 2014
Journal Analysis
Print ISSN 0003-2638
Electronic ISSN 1467-8284
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 2
Pages 327-338


Accepted Journal Article (207 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Analysis following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Sophie C. Gibb (2014) Mental Causation. Analysis, 74 (2): 327-338 is available online at:

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