Since Descartes’s division of the human subject into mental and physical components in the seventeenth century, there has been a great deal of discussion about how—indeed, whether or not—our mental states bring about our physical behavior. Through historical and contemporary readings, this collection explores this lively and important issue.
In four parts, this anthology introduces the problem of mental causation, explores the debate sparked by Donald Davidson’s anomalous monism, examines Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument for the view that qualia are epiphenomenal, and investigates attempts to employ the controversial concept of supervenience to explain mental causation.
“This is a judiciously selected collection of classic readings on the metaphysics of mental causation. After furnishing just enough historical background, the anthology concentrates on three fundamental issues: the causal role of reasons as debated in the context of Donald Davidson’s ‘anomalous monism’; the ‘epiphenomenalist’ status of ‘qualia’ implied by Frank Jackson’s controversial ‘knowledge argument’ against physicalism; and the prospects for a supervenience-based account of mental causation. The result of this at once highly selective and in-depth approach is a thematically unified collection of important writings which is not only pedagogically sound but also useful as reference material for the professional philosopher.” — Ausonio Marras, University of Western Ontario