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Commonsense Epiphenomenalism

I recently came across a popular article claiming that epiphenomenalism was "one of the most disturbing ideas in all of philosophy." The author seemed to confuse causal inertness with "irrelevance" in some broader sense, so I won't waste time addressing that further.  But it may be helpful to offer a more commonsensical conception of epiphenomenalism.  Consider:We may think of mental states as having both physical and experiential components: their physical effects are due entirely to the physical aspects of our thoughts. The non-physical (experiential) component, on the other hand, constitutes what it feels like to be in that state. There's then an obvious sense in which our mental states have causal effects, insofar as their physical aspects do. That doesn't require that the causal 'oomph' come from the experiential aspect -- indeed, how could it? Experiential feels aren't the kinds of things that push atoms around. You need other particles to accomplish that!On this view, we may (speaking loosely) say that I pulled my hand away from the hot stove "because it hurt", and this can be perfectly informative, without implying that the hurty feel itself provided the causal force that moved my hand...This sort of property dualism strikes me as perfectly commonsensical, so I find it weird that so many other philosophers seem to regard it as a non-starter.  I mean, I get that many are ideologically committed to physicalism.  But there often seems an [More]

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