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Making a DifferenceEssays on the Philosophy of Causation$
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Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock, and Huw Price

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746911.001.0001

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Epiphenomenalism for Functionalists

Epiphenomenalism for Functionalists

(p.286) 15 Epiphenomenalism for Functionalists
Making a Difference

Helen Beebee

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on an assumption implicitly made by most recent attempts to solve the exclusion problem for mental causation, that mental (and so multiply realized) properties are ‘distinct existences’ from their alleged effects. Without that assumption, no such solution can work, since we have excellent grounds for thinking that there is no causation between entities that are not distinct from one another. But, assuming functionalism—which, after all, constitutes the grounds for thinking that mental properties are multiply realized in the first place—mental properties are not distinct from the effects to which they are alleged to bear causal relevance, since functional properties are defined in terms of the causal roles of their realizers. The chapter argues, however, that the natural consequence—epiphenomenalism with respect to mental properties—is not as problematic as many philosophers tend to assume.

Keywords:   mental causation, epiphenomenalism, causal relata, functionalism, exclusion problem

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