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The Implausibility of the Causal Closure of the Physical

In: Organon F, vol. 26, no. 1
Richard Swinburne


Year, pages: 2019, 25 - 39
Language: eng
Causal closure of the physical; mind-brain causation; physical de-terminism; Libet.
Article type: Research Article
Document type: Research Article
About article:
Much recent neuroscientific work, and in particular the programme initiated by Benjamin Libet, seeks to show “the causal closure of the physical”—that mental events never cause physical events, and in particular that our intentions never cause brain events and thereby our intentional bodily actions. But no one is justified in believing any scientific theory unless they are justified in believing that it suc-cessfully predicts certain events. Someone is justified in believing that certain events predicted by some theory did occur, if they ap-parently remember having perceived these events or if some other scientist apparently testifies that they have perceived these events. But we believe our apparent memories of our past perceptions of events because we believe that perceiving those events has caused brain events which have caused our present apparent memories of them; and we believe the apparent testimony of others because we believe that their intentions to testify have caused brain events in them which in turn have caused the words of their testimony to come out of their mouths. So someone could only justifiably believe the theory that mental events never cause physical events if they be-lieve that either their past perceptions or the intentions of other sci-entists to tell them what they perceived, both of which are kinds of mental events, have caused brain events, which are physical events. So that theory is self-defeating; no one could ever be justified in be-lieving it, or more generally be justified in believing the theory of the causal closure of the physical.
How to cite:
ISO 690:
Swinburne, R. 2019. The Implausibility of the Causal Closure of the Physical. In Organon F, vol. 26, no.1, pp. 25-39. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26103

Swinburne, R. (2019). The Implausibility of the Causal Closure of the Physical. Organon F, 26(1), 25-39. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26103
About edition:
Publisher: Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Published: 22. 1. 2019
Richard Swinburne