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The Neural Basis of Free WillCriterial Causation$
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Peter Ulric Tse

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019101

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019101.001.0001

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Mental Causation as an Instance of Criterial Causation

Mental Causation as an Instance of Criterial Causation

(p.115) 6 Mental Causation as an Instance of Criterial Causation
The Neural Basis of Free Will

Peter Ulric Tse

The MIT Press

This chapter aims to address philosophical views concerning criterial causation by delving into the nature of causation realized in neurons. Criterial causation emphasizes how patterns of energy, such as coincidence, are transmitted and transformed, not how energy is transferred or transformed into a different state. It is argued here that mental processing accomplishes a downward and nonepiphenomenal causation, where mental events occur only if elementary particles realize a particular subset of the possible paths open to them. This embodies an informational causal chain of events, all of which are also physical causal chains; on the other hand, the majority of physical causal chains in nature are not informational causal chains. Other possible paths that are open to elementary particles that do not realize an informational causal chain are in essence “deselected” by neurons by virtue of the failure of those paths to meet physical or informational criteria for the release of an action potential.

Keywords:   criterial causation, neurons, mental processing, nonepiphenomenal causation, informational causal chains, physical causal chains, action potential

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