Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Manfredi, Pat


Mental causation is with us all the time. Being a table is different from being a human---although we are composed of physical particles, we have understanding, reason, or perception, which are able to make a difference in the physical world. In this dissertation, I have detail discussions of contemporary substance dualism, the mind-brain identity theory, and Jaegwon Kim's functionalism, and thus conclude that none of them can provide an appropriate account to the problem of mental causation. By distinguishing the mind from the body, substance dualists face the pairing problem: How does this particular mind unite with this particular body and thus interact? With the pairing problem, more and more philosophers accept physicalism. However, it is surprising that the problem of mental causation arises again from the heart of physicalism. It means that accepting physicalist ontology does not make this problem go away. On the contrary, basic physical assumptions can even be seen as the source of the current difficulties with mental causation. My preferred idea is that mental properties emerge from physical properties, and both of them together make an occurrence to cause an effect. Emergence makes mental causation autonomous and also avoids epiphenomenalism.




This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.