Reconciling Omissions and Causalism

Reconciling Omissions and Causalism If causalism is a complete theory of what it is to behave intentionally, it also has to account for intentional omissions. Carolina Sartorio (Noûs 43 (3), 513–530, 2009) has developed a powerful argument, the Causal Exclusion for Omissions, showing that intentional omissions cannot be explained by causalism. A crucial claim in the argument is that there is a causal competition between a mental omission and the mental action performed instead. In this paper I reject the argument by demonstrating that there is no causal competition ever between an omission and the action performed instead. I propose what I call the Realisationist Conception of Omissions, which consists in considering omissions as multiply realisable absences whose realisers are specific positive actions. I further argue in favour of the Determinationist Conception of Omissions, according to which the relation between omissions and their realisers is a determinable/determinate relation. Since there can be no causal preemption between a determinable and its determinates, there can be no causal preemption between omissions and the actions performed instead, and causalism is safe. I also show that this view of omissions has some other independent advantages – like for example that of solving the problem of the spatio-temporal localisation of omissions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Philosophy and Psychology Springer Journals

Reconciling Omissions and Causalism

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Mind; Cognitive Psychology; Neurosciences; Epistemology; Developmental Psychology; Philosophy of Science
ISSN
1878-5158
eISSN
1878-5166
D.O.I.
10.1007/s13164-018-0402-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

If causalism is a complete theory of what it is to behave intentionally, it also has to account for intentional omissions. Carolina Sartorio (Noûs 43 (3), 513–530, 2009) has developed a powerful argument, the Causal Exclusion for Omissions, showing that intentional omissions cannot be explained by causalism. A crucial claim in the argument is that there is a causal competition between a mental omission and the mental action performed instead. In this paper I reject the argument by demonstrating that there is no causal competition ever between an omission and the action performed instead. I propose what I call the Realisationist Conception of Omissions, which consists in considering omissions as multiply realisable absences whose realisers are specific positive actions. I further argue in favour of the Determinationist Conception of Omissions, according to which the relation between omissions and their realisers is a determinable/determinate relation. Since there can be no causal preemption between a determinable and its determinates, there can be no causal preemption between omissions and the actions performed instead, and causalism is safe. I also show that this view of omissions has some other independent advantages – like for example that of solving the problem of the spatio-temporal localisation of omissions.

Journal

Review of Philosophy and PsychologySpringer Journals

Published: May 29, 2018

References

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