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Department of Philosophy

Project Description


The phenomenon of mental causation remains an anomaly in our conception of the natural world. An increasing amount of research activity has been devoted to the problem of mental causation, but to no avail. Currently, a number of central figures within the mental causation debate consider us to be no closer to a solution. Indeed, they conclude that, given the current form of the debate, we will never come closer; Kim (1993) concludes that those within the mental causation debate are ‘up against a dead end', whilst McGinn (1994) suggests that a solution to the problem is forever beyond our reach.

The departing point of this AHRC-funded project is the conjecture that the debate has been framed with insufficient metaphysical precision, thus causing the apparent insolubility of the problem. Consequently, the aim of our project is to explore recent advances in metaphysics, in particular new accounts of the categories of being and of levels of being, along with developments within the ontology of powers and causation, in order to identify a more fruitful metaphysical framework for the mental causation debate. This would constitute, we contend, a significant step towards the resolution of the problem of mental causation. The first year of the project is concerned with the relevant ontological developments. The second year is concerned with working out the consequences of these developments for the mental causation debate

Project leaders

Dr. Sophie C. Gibb (PI), Department of Philosophy,  Durham University  (Personal webpage)

Prof. Jonathan Lowe, Department of Philosophy, Durham University  (Personal webpage)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Rögnvaldur D. Ingthorsson, Department of Philosophy, Durham University (personal webpage)