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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 1999

Metaphysics

Fred Dretske
Pages 81-88

Mental Causation

Materialist explanations of cause and effect tend to embrace epiphenomenalism. Those who try to avoid epiphenomenalism tend to deny either the extrinsicness of meaning or the intrinsicness of causality. I argue that to deny one or the other is equally implausible. Rather, I prefer a different strategy: accept both premises, but deny that epiphenomenalism is necessarily the conclusion. This strategy is available because the premises do not imply the conclusion without the help of an additional premise—namely, that behavior explained by reasons is caused by the reasons that explain it—and this premise is false.

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