Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some questions about explanatory exclusion from the philosophy of mind blog Brainpains

The argument from mental causation maintains that if there is a causal explanation of a person's belief in terms of physical causes, then that explanation excludes another explanation in terms of good reasons.

Take the syllogism

1. All men are mortal.
2. Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

If physicalism is true, is it possible that someone comes to believe the conclusion in virtue of the content of the premises. After all, there is a comprehensive physical explanation for each state of that person's brain in terms of physical causes. Could there, however, also be a co-existing explanation in terms of mental states, given the constraints of physicalism.

This blog entry, based on a paper by Karen Bennett, argues that the principle of explanatory exclusion should not apply to this case.


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