Overview[ edit ] The classic Identity theory and anomalous monism in contrast. For the Identity theory, every token instantiation of a single mental type corresponds as indicated by the arrows to a physical token of a single physical type. Hence there is type-identity. For anomalous monism, the token-token correspondences can fall outside of the type-type correspondences. The result is token identity. Considering views about the relation between the mental and the physical as distinguished first by whether or not mental entities are identical with physical entities, and second by whether or not there are strict psychophysical laws, we arrive at a fourfold classification: 1 nomological monism, which says there are strict correlating laws, and that the correlated entities are identical this is usually called type physicalism ; 2 nomological dualism, which holds that there are strict correlating laws, but that the correlated entities are not identical parallelism , property dualism and pre-established harmony ; 3 anomalous dualism, which holds there are no laws correlating the mental and the physical, that the substances are ontologically distinct, but nevertheless there is interaction between them i.
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We start with the plausible assumption that some mental events, such as believing that it is raining, are caused by certain physical events, in this case the rain. Davidson calls this the Principle of Causal Interaction; we shall call it the interaction principle: The Interaction Principle: Some mental events causally interact with some physical events Davidson presents this assumption as obvious and not in need of justification, but we shall see that motivations for it can be found in parts of his writings 2.
To this interaction principle is added the requirement that all singular causal interactions are covered by strict laws—laws with fully articulated antecedents which guarantee some fully articulated consequence for caveats and details, see 3. Davidson calls this the Principle of the Nomological Character of Causality; we shall call it the cause-law principle: The Cause-Law Principle: Events related as cause and effect are covered by strict laws This cause-law principle was also initially assumed without argument by Davidson, though we shall see below 3.
That is, whenever events of kind P1 occur, events of kind M1 must follow. However, Davidson then claims that there can be no such laws.
He calls this the Principle of the Anomalism of the Mental, and it holds that mental properties are not suitable for inclusion in strict laws of any kind; we shall call it the anomalism principle: The Anomalism Principle: There are no strict laws on the basis of which mental events can predict, explain, or be predicted or explained by other events Davidson offered loose ruminations concerning rationality and rationalizing explanations, which purportedly constitute the very nature of mental properties, in support of the anomalism principle 4.
All of this will be discussed in detail below. With the interaction principle, the cause-law principle, and the anomalism principle now in place, we can see that there is a tension in need of resolution.
From the interaction and cause-law principles it follows that there must be strict laws covering the interaction between mental and physical events. But the anomalism principle entails that there are no strict psychophysical laws.
How can all three principles be held simultaneously? That is, m1 and p1 must instantiate properties suitable for inclusion in strict laws; but since we know that M1 is not a property of this kind, m1 must instantiate some other property. Therefore, every causally interacting mental event must be token-identical to some physical event—hence, monism 5. While explanation is, intuitively, an intensional notion—one sensitive to how events are described—causation is extensional, obtaining between pairs of events independently of how they are described.
That explosion, let us suppose, was the most newsworthy event of the day. How the cause is described is relevant to whether an explanation occurs. Causes and effects can be accurately picked out using a variety of expressions, many of which are not explanatory. As we shall see, the distinction between causation and explanation is crucial to Anomalous Monism 6.
Finally, to alleviate certain concerns about the adequacy of the form of physicalism he was endorsing, Davidson endorsed a dependency relation of supervenience of the mental on the physical, and claimed that it was consistent with Anomalous Monism 5.
Premise I: The Interaction Principle The interaction principle states that some mental events causally interact with some physical events. In this section we will look briefly at a number of issues related to this principle: how mental and physical events are demarcated, the nature of events themselves, the scope of the interaction principle, the relationship between mental events and causation, and the use of the interaction principle in establishing one component of mental anomalism—psychological anomalism, according to which there can be no strict, purely psychological laws.
Psychological anomalism is to be distinguished from psychophysical anomalism, which holds that there can be no strict psychophysical laws. This latter thesis will be explored in detail in our discussion of the anomalism principle 4. Generally, Davidson expresses some skepticism about the possibility of formulating a clear and general definition of the class of mental phenomena Davidson , And he is suspicious about the idea of mental states given to, but uninterpreted by, concepts Davidson a , which is how philosophers have often thought of conscious phenomena.
But for current purposes the class of propositional attitudes will suffice as a criterion for the mental. One key reason for so limiting the reach of Anomalous Monism, as we shall see 4. Conscious events have traditionally been thought to occur in non-rational animals, a position with which Davidson shows some sympathy Davidson a.
One half-hearted attempt comes in the statement that [p]hysical theory promises to provide a comprehensive closed system guaranteed to yield a standardized, unique description of every physical event couched in a vocabulary amenable to law. One important component of such descriptions is their capacity to figure in strict laws of nature see 3. While this is non-negotiable for physical terms, it is an open question for mental terms, and Davidson will be arguing 4 for a negative answer.
When Davidson first argued for Anomalous Monism he subscribed to a causal criterion of event-individuation, according to which two events event-descriptions are identical co-refer if they share all the same causes and effects Davidson He much later came to reject that criterion in favor of one according to which events are identical if and only if they occupy the same spatiotemporal region Davidson b.
The difference between these views will not, however, be reflected in our discussion. It does not appear to affect either the derivation or the essential nature of Anomalous Monism. For controversies concerning extensionalism, see 5. The interaction principle states that at least some mental events cause and are caused by physical events Davidson , This leaves open the possibility of mental events that do not causally interact with physical events.
His later views on event-individuation appear to leave this possibility open, but his general claims about the causal individuation of mental contents and attitudes see 4.
In any case, Davidson goes on to say that he in fact believes that all mental events causally interact with physical events Davidson , , but he restricts his argument only to those that actually do. Given the pressures just noted in favor of the inclusive reading of the interaction principle, we shall assume it in what follows. The interaction claim itself should be understood as follows: some events that have a mental description or instantiate a mental property cause and are caused by events that have a physical description or instantiate a physical property.
At this stage that possibility is left as an open question, but it is important to notice that for it to be an open question we need to at least allow for a distinction between events and the ways in which they are picked out in language. However, since Anomalous Monism is based upon the interaction principle, Davidson can claim in response that if Anomalous Monism is true, then mental events are already known to have a kind of causal efficacy.
As we shall see, this point is not by itself sufficient to ward off all epiphenomenalist concerns about Anomalous Monism. But it does serve to remind us of the full framework within which challenges to Anomalous Monism must be assessed, and in particular brings out the reliance of that framework on specific assumptions about causality see Sections 4.
What needs to be noted at this point is that Davidson argued early on for the claim that mental events have causal efficacy, through noting a problem for non-causal accounts of action explanation Davidson The agent acted because of some specific beliefs and purposes, but other beliefs and purposes of his could just as easily rationalize that action, and thus be cited in its explanation.
Was the agent moving his hand as he did because he wanted to swat the fly, relieve a cramp, or wave in greeting? He may well have wanted to achieve all three of these aims, but still only in fact performed the action because of one of these reasons.
What exactly does this argument show? It is intended to tell against non-causal theories of action, which deny that reasons explain actions by causing them.
There have been sophisticated attempts, on the behalf of non-causal theories of action explanation, to respond to this challenge von Wright ; Wilson ; Ginet ; for a good overview, see Stoutland ; and see related discussion in 6.
However, assuming the argument is successful, while it does establish mental efficacy of a kind, it does not by itself establish the interaction principle. Establishing that reasons explain actions by causing them, and that therefore reasons causally interact with actions, does not establish that reasons causally interact with physical events. Dualists who reject the identity of mental and physical events will surely object.
A key point to grasp in many of the issues raised by Anomalous Monism is that there is an important distinction between action and behavior. According to Davidson, action is intentionally described behavior—the moving of a hand through space in a certain way may, but need not, be an action of waving or swatting or any action at all.
It may simply be mere bodily behavior—as happens as the result of a muscle twitch or a strong gust of wind. However, while this is necessary for action, it is not, according to Davidson, sufficient. The behavior must be caused in the right way by the beliefs and desires. A mountain climber might become so unnerved by his desire to rid himself of an annoying second climber sharing his rope and belief that jiggling the rope is a means for doing so that he unintentionally jiggles the rope, leading to the loss of the second climber.
This is not an action—it is mere behavior that happens to him, no different than if caused by a muscle twitch or gust of wind. Davidson is skeptical about the possibility of cashing out what it means to be caused in the right way Davidson b, 78—9 , for reasons relating to mental anomalism Davidson b, 80; see 4 for explicit discussion.
It does not follow from the fact that reasons must cause actions in order to explain them that reasons must cause behavior or the interaction principle that reasons do cause behavior.
It does not entail that actions are physical behavior. This point is important when one considers the wider framework to which the interaction principle contributes. Since Davidson is attempting to derive monism from it and other principles that are themselves neutral about the metaphysics of mind, he cannot assume that action is identical with behavior on pain of circularity. How this relates to the wave of epiphenomenalist criticism about Anomalous Monism will be explored in detail below 6 , and see the supplement on Mental Properties and Causal Relevance.
More generally, physical conditions will always play some role in any plausible psychological generalizations, because physical intervention e. Psychophysical anomalism, the other component of mental anomalism and the one that denies the possibility of such strict laws, is thus the view that Davidson focuses on establishing.
In the earliest formulations of Anomalous Monism, Davidson assumed but did not argue for this principle. His later argument in support of it will be considered below 3. But we need to consider the nature of the requirement contained in this claim, and how it relates to the framework out of which Anomalous Monism is deduced. Traditionally, a strict law has been thought of as one where the condition and event-types specified in the antecedent are such as to guarantee that the condition or event-types specified in the consequent occur—the latter must occur if the former in fact obtain.
But indeterministic or probabilistic versions of strict laws are possible as well Davidson , The point that distinguishes strict laws is not so much the guaranteeing of the effect by satisfaction of the antecedent as the inclusion, in the antecedent, of all conditions and events that can be stated that could possibly prevent the occurrence of the effect.
A strict indeterministic law would be one that specified everything required in order for some effect to occur. If the effect does not occur when those conditions obtain, there is nothing else that could be cited in explanation of this failure other than the brute fact of an indeterministic universe.
For reasons of simplicity, we will assume determinism in this discussion, though what is said about strict laws could be carried over without remainder to strict indeterministic laws. The cause-law principle is aimed, in the first instance, at laws of succession, which cover singular causal relationships between events at distinct times. Indeed, mental anomalism rejects the possibility of any strict law in which mental predicates figure where those predicates figure essentially, and are not redundant —including as we have seen 2.
The denial of strict laws of these forms is consistent with allowing hedged versions of them which are qualified by a ceteris paribus clause. That distinction is extremely problematic for the purposes of establishing Anomalous Monism, and is set aside here in favor of the related but by no means identical distinction between strict and ceteris paribus generalizations.
For discussion of the former distinction, see the supplement on Homonomic and Heteronomic Generalizations. The interconnections are established partly in response to C. Simply put, Ducasse defined some particular event c as the cause of some effect e if and only if c was the only change occurring in the immediate environment of e just prior to e.
The striking of the match is the cause of the flaming match just insofar as the striking is the only change occurring in the immediate vicinity of the flaming match just prior to the flaming of the match. We can, of course, be wrong in thinking that this is what we have in fact perceived.
And he asks whether we really have a purchase on this concept absent appeal to laws. There are two aspects of this concern. And this leads directly to questions about how predicates are individuated and their relationship to laws see below.
This second point does not appear to deliver the result Davidson is after—establishing that each causal interaction must be covered by a particular strict law. The claim that something is a change, and thus has a cause, only if certain theoretical assumptions are in place is consistent with the claim that those assumptions for instance, that uniform rectilinear motion does not count as a change cannot play the explanatory role for specific causal interactions that strict laws are supposed to play.
As we have already seen 3. It will continue to be green, though it will also be true that it ceases to be grue and comes to be bleen. What is crucial for Davidson is that to understand the notion of change, which is so closely tied to the notion of causation, one must understand the notion of a projectible predicate—one appropriate for use in science—and this notion inevitably brings in the notion of law.
Changes are described by predicates suitable for inclusion within laws.
Related Views There are a number of philosophers and traditions that share the two key features of Anomalous Monism: its rejection of any reductive relationship between mental and physical events and properties, and its assertion of monism. In this section, we look briefly at one classic precursor to Anomalous Monism as well as several more recently developed positions that share these features. The comparisons help to shed further light on Anomalous Monism. At the most general level, one distinctive component of Anomalous Monism is its a priori status. It is deduced logically from what are plausibly claimed to be a relatively bland set of assumptions themselves not clearly empirical in nature, and each, individually, acceptable to dualist ontological positions. Certainly the anomalism principle is not empirical.
Anomalous monism explained
It contains as clever an argument for materialism as anyone has ever given. And in the course of giving it, Davidson presents, albeit in a notoriously sketchy form, a profound and important argument against the possibility of a type-type mind-brain identity theory. But the basic structure of the argument is fairly simple. It goes like this: 1. At least some mental events interact causally with physical events.
Donald Davidson: Anomalous Monism
I P 4 I P 5 Spinoza showed no obvious sign of interest in whether one of these two causal orders is more fundamental. But since he was a strict determinist, it seems he believed that the relations that obtain among the items belonging to both causal sequences were law-like in nature. He may thus plausibly be read as having accepted the truth of something like statement 1. This might make it appear that he have endorsed statement 3 of our original trilemma at the price of rejecting statement 1. But this is perfectly consistent with the truth of statement 1.