< Back to previous page


Causality in cognitive science and philosophy of mind.

Many philosophers of mind profess to being naturalists: if science and philosophy clash, it is the latter, not the former that should give way. Yet this presupposes that one can compare scientific and philosophical claims. In the philosophy of mind, there is one bad habit that hampers our ability to make such a comparison: the tendency to leave the notion of causality, which is central to a number of key debates, unspecified. Talk about the causal closure of the physical domain, causal overdetermination, and the causal efficacy of mental states abounds, yet the concept of causality in these debates is rarely explicated beyond such vague notions as 'causal powers', or 'making a difference'. This means that it is unclear how causal claims about mind and cognition in philosophy, relate to causal claims made about these topics in the scientific disciplines that study them: the cognitive sciences. This project aims to remedy this situation. In philosophy of science, numerous, often highly sophisticated theories about causality have been developed. By drawing on these theories, I will explicate what notions of causality are actually used in cognitive science. These insights will then be used to bring the philosophical debates about mental causation, causal overdetermination, and mental content, in line with scientific practice, thus helping philosophers to live up to their own naturalistic standards.
Date:1 Oct 2015  →  30 Sep 2018
Disciplines:Theory and methodology of philosophy, Philosophy, Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified