Mental Causation by John Heil, Alfred Mele

By John Heil, Alfred Mele

This quantity offers a suite of recent, in particular written essays by way of a various crew of philosophers, together with Donald Davidson, Ted Honderich, and Philip Pettit, every one of whom is celebrated for protecting a specific perception of minds and their position in nature.

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These simplifications are of use to me only if they help to emphasize how much we actually mind, how much it matters to us, whether the actions of other people – and particularly of some other people – reflect attitudes towards us of goodwill, affection, or esteem on the one hand or contempt, indifference, or 5 6 freedom and resentment malevolence on the other. If someone treads on my hand accidentally, while trying to help me, the pain may be no less acute than if he treads on it in contemptuous disregard of my existence or with a malevolent wish to injure me.

The personal reactive attitudes rest on, and reflect, an expectation of, and demand for, the manifestation of a certain degree of goodwill or regard on the part of other human beings towards ourselves; or at least on the expectation of, and demand for, an absence of the manifestation of active ill will or indifferent disregard. , as we now think, towards all men. The generalized and non-generalized forms of demand, and the vicarious and personal reactive attitudes which rest upon, and reflect, them are connected not merely logically.

It is unlikely that any of us, in the second half of the twentieth century, will be buoyed up by any such glad, confident assurance – or, if you prefer, will be the victim of any such vainglorious delusion. Philosophers today tend to be more soberly and modestly aware of the greatness of the achievements of their illustrious predecessors and of the possibility of learning from them. Yet I think it is evident that there is a notable selectiveness in these appreciative responses. It is in no way surprising that this should be so; that each philosopher should respond most positively to those of his predecessors whose work is most in harmony with his own intellectual bent.

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