The Article Epiphenomenal And Supervenient Causation
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In the article Epiphenomenal and Supervenient Causation, Jaegwon Kim provides a positive account for mental causation. He argues three main claims: that macro causation should be viewed as epiphenomenal causation, that macro causation as epiphenomenal causation should be explained as “supervenient causation”, and that psychological causation involving psychological events is plausibly assimilated to macro causation. (pg. 259). His claims attempt to resolve the puzzle of how psychological causal relations belong within a physically closed causal system. The Physically Closed Causal System Theory maintains that all causes are physical. If psychological causes are distinct from physical causes, then they cannot cause any effects in this world. Kim’s first two claims support his third. And, the third offers a possible solution.
Before I explain Kim’s conclusion I will provide a rough account of Kim’s version of epiphenomenal causation. Kim’s first claim’s main point is macro causations are epiphenomenal causations. The concept of epiphenomenal is described as a secondary phenomenon, secondary symptom, or something that happens in addition to the primary phenomena. An epiphenomenon can be an effect of primary phenomena, but cannot cause primary phenomena (physical phenomena).
The explanation of epiphenomenal causation provided by Kim begins with an analogy from Jonathan Edwards. The analogy makes the point that successive images reflected off the mirror are not directly