The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

Robert G. Lantin
Pages 136-142

Restoring Mind-Brain Supervenience: A Proposal

In this paper I examine the claim that mental causation — at least for cases involving the production of purposive behavior — is possible only if ‘mind/brain supervenience’ obtains, and suggest that in spite of all the bad press it has received in recent years, mind/brain supervenience is still the best way for a physicalist to solve the ‘exclusion problem’ that plagues many accounts of mental causation. In section 3, I introduce a form of mind/brain supervenience that depends crucially on the idea that some brain state-types---namely, those involved in the production of purposive behavior---are nonlocally sensitive, where by ‘nonlocal sensitivity’ I mean cases where relevant causal histories and environmental circumstances effect a difference in some of an organism’s brain state-types intrinsic, causal properties. I will argue that such a mode of sensitivity of brain state-types offers the best way out of the exclusion problem for anyone convinced that mental state-types should be relationally individuated.