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Publications (9 of 9) Show all publications
Vaassen, B. (2024). Mental causation for standard dualists. Australasian Journal of Philosophy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mental causation for standard dualists
2024 (English)In: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, ISSN 0004-8402, E-ISSN 1471-6828Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The standard objection to dualist theories of mind is that they seemingly cannot account for the obvious fact that mental phenomena cause our behaviour. On the plausible assumption that all our behaviour is physically necessitated by entirely physical phenomena, there appears to be no room for dualist mental causation. Some argue that dualists can address this problem by making minimal adjustments in their ontology. I argue that no such adjustments are required. Given recent developments in philosophy of causation, it is plausible that mental phenomena cause behaviour in standard dualist ontologies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2024
Keywords
Mental Causation, Dualism, Consciousness, Causal Exclusion, Higher-Level Causation
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-220181 (URN)10.1080/00048402.2024.2335325 (DOI)2-s2.0-85190596190 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-0638
Available from: 2024-01-29 Created: 2024-01-29 Last updated: 2024-07-02
Vaassen, B. (2023). Absence and abnormality. Analysis, 83(1), 98-106
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Absence and abnormality
2023 (English)In: Analysis, ISSN 0003-2638, E-ISSN 1467-8284, Vol. 83, no 1, p. 98-106Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Absences pose a dilemma for theories of causation. Allowing them to be causes seems to make theories too permissive (Lewis, 2000). Banning them from beingcauses seems to make theories too restrictive (Schaffer, 2000, 2004). An increasingly popular approach to this dilemma is to acknowledge that norms can affect which absences count as causes (e.g., Thomson, 2003; McGrath, 2005; Henneet al., 2017; Willemsen, 2018). In this article, I distinguish between two influential implementations of such ‘abnormality’ approaches and argue that so-called ‘double-prevention mechanisms’ provide counterexamples against both.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2023
Keywords
Causation, Normativity, Absence, Omission, Norm, Counterfactual Dependence, Abnormality
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-200336 (URN)10.1093/analys/anac030 (DOI)000877181400001 ()2-s2.0-85168724181 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-06381
Available from: 2022-10-16 Created: 2022-10-16 Last updated: 2023-09-06Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. (2022). AI, Opacity, and Personal Autonomy. Philosophy & Technology, 35(4), Article ID 88.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>AI, Opacity, and Personal Autonomy
2022 (English)In: Philosophy & Technology, ISSN 2210-5433, E-ISSN 2210-5441, Vol. 35, no 4, article id 88Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Advancements in machine learning have fuelled the popularity of using AI decision algorithms in procedures such as bail hearings, medical diagnoses and recruitment. Academic articles, policy texts, and popularizing books alike warn that such algorithms tend to be opaque: they do not provide explanations for their outcomes. Building on a causal account of transparency and opacity as well as recent work on the value of causal explanation, I formulate a moral concern for opaque algorithms that is yet to receive a systematic treatment in the literature: when such algorithms are used in life-changing decisions, they can obstruct us from effectively shaping our lives according to our goals and preferences, thus undermining our autonomy. I argue that this concern deserves closer attention as it furnishes the call for transparency in algorithmic decision-making with both new tools and new challenges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2022
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-200101 (URN)10.1007/s13347-022-00577-5 (DOI)2-s2.0-85138680248 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-06381
Available from: 2022-10-11 Created: 2022-10-11 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. (2022). Halfway proportionality. Philosophical Studies, 179, 2823-2843
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Halfway proportionality
2022 (English)In: Philosophical Studies, ISSN 0031-8116, E-ISSN 1573-0883, Vol. 179, p. 2823-2843Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to the so-called ‘proportionality principle’, causes should be proportional to their effects: they should be both enough and not too much for the occurrence of their effects. This principle is the subject of an ongoing debate. On the one hand, many maintain that it is required to address the problem of causal exclusion and take it to capture a crucial aspect of causation. On the other hand, many object that it renders accounts of causation implausibly restrictive and often reject the principle wholesale. I argue that there is exaggeration on both sides. While one half of the principle is overly demanding, the other half is unobjectionable. And while the unobjectionable half does not block exclusion arguments on its own, it provides a nuanced picture of higher-level causation, fits with recent developments in philosophy of causation, and motivates adjustments to standard difference-making accounts of causation. I conclude that at least half of the proportionality principle is worth taking seriously.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2022
Keywords
Causal exclusion, Causal explanation, Causation, Difference-making, Exclusion arguments, Higher-level causation, Proportionality
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-192950 (URN)10.1007/s11098-022-01803-8 (DOI)000770389100001 ()2-s2.0-85125370403 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-03-08 Created: 2022-03-08 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. & Sandgren, A. (2021). And therefore. Inquiry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>And therefore
2021 (English)In: Inquiry, ISSN 0020-174X, E-ISSN 1502-3923Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on ‘therefore’ constructions such as ‘The switch is on, and therefore the lights are on’. We submit that the contribution of ‘therefore’ is to express a dependence as part of the core content of these constructions, rather than being conveyed by conventional implicature [Grice, H. P. 1975. “Logic and Conversation.” In The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy, edited by M. Ezcurdia, and R. J. Stainton, 41–58. Broadview Press; Potts, C. 2005. The Logic of Conventional Implicatures. Oxford University Press] or a triggered presupposition [Pavese, C. 2017. “On the Meaning of ‘Therefore’.” Analysis 77 (1): 88–97. Pavese, C. 2021. “Lewis Carroll’s Regress and the Presuppositional Structure of Arguments.” Linguistics and Philosophy; Stokke, A. 2017. “II—Conventional Implicature, Presupposition, and Lying.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary 91 (1): 127–147]. We argue that the standard objections to this view can be answered by relying on the general projection hypothesis defended by Roberts et al. and Simons et al. [Roberts, C., M. Simons, J. Tonhauser, and D. I. Beaver. 2009. Presuppositions, Conventional Implicature, and Beyond: A Unified Account of Projection; Simons, M., J. Tonhauser, D. Beaver, and C. Roberts. 2010. “What Projects and Why.” Semantics and Linguistic Theory 20: 309–327], leaving our view on solid ground.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2021
Keywords
Therefore, Presupposition, Conventional Implicature, Projection, Grice
National Category
Philosophy General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-190561 (URN)10.1080/0020174X.2021.2010430 (DOI)000729047000001 ()2-s2.0-85121365607 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-02786 and 2019-06381
Available from: 2021-12-18 Created: 2021-12-18 Last updated: 2023-03-24
Vaassen, B. (2021). Causal exclusion without causal sufficiency. Synthese, 198, 10341-10353
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Causal exclusion without causal sufficiency
2021 (English)In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 198, p. 10341-10353Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Some non-reductionists claim that so-called ‘exclusion arguments’ against their position rely on a notion of causal sufficiency that is particularly problematic. I argue that such concerns about the role of causal sufficiency in exclusion arguments are relatively superficial since exclusionists can address them by reformulating exclusion arguments in terms of physical sufficiency. The resulting exclusion arguments still face familiar problems, but these are not related to the choice between causal sufficiency and physical sufficiency. The upshot is that objections to the notion of causal sufficiency can be answered in a straightforward fashion and that such objections therefore do not pose a serious threat to exclusion arguments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2021
Keywords
Mental Causation, Causal Exclusion, Exclusion Arguments, Non-Reductionism, Causation, Causal Sufficiency
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-174964 (URN)10.1007/s11229-020-02723-y (DOI)000543542400001 ()2-s2.0-85086376410 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2020-09-12 Created: 2020-09-12 Last updated: 2024-04-19Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. (2021). Dualism and Exclusion. Erkenntnis, 86(3), 543-552
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dualism and Exclusion
2021 (English)In: Erkenntnis, ISSN 0165-0106, E-ISSN 1572-8420, Vol. 86, no 3, p. 543-552Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many philosophers argue that exclusion arguments cannot exclude non-reductionist physicalist mental properties from being causes without excluding properties that are patently causal as well. List and Stoljar (Australas J Philos 95(1):96–108, 2017) recently argued that a similar response to exclusion arguments is also available to dualists, thereby challenging the predominant view that exclusion arguments undermine dualist theories of mind. In particular, List and Stoljar maintain that exclusion arguments against dualism require a premise that states that, if a property is metaphysically distinct from the sufficient cause of an effect, this property cannot be a cause of that effect. I argue that this premise is indeed likely to exclude patently causal properties, but that exclusion arguments against dualism do not require this premise. The relation that enables metaphysically distinct properties to cause the same effect in the relevant way turns out to be tighter than the relation typically posited between dualist conscious properties and their underlying physical properties. It is therefore still plausible that the latter causally exclude the former and that compelling exclusion arguments against dualism can be formulated by using a weaker exclusion premise. I conclude by proposing such a formulation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Netherlands: Springer, 2021
Keywords
Dualism, Mental Causation, Causal Exclusion, Exclusion, Exclusion Argument, Non-Reductionism, Overdetermination
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158424 (URN)10.1007/s10670-019-00118-1 (DOI)000651461500003 ()2-s2.0-85064833600 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-04-27 Created: 2019-04-27 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. (2019). Causal after all: a model of mental causation for dualists. (Doctoral dissertation). Umeå: Umeå University
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Causal after all: a model of mental causation for dualists
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this dissertation, I develop and defend a model of causation that allows for dualist mental causation in worlds where the physical domain is physically complete.

In Part I, I present the dualist ontology that will be assumed throughout the thesis and identify two challenges for models of mental causation within such an ontology: the exclusion worry and the common cause worry. I also argue that a proper response to these challenges requires a thoroughly lightweight account of causation, i.e. an account that allows for causes to be metaphysically distinct from the phenomena that produce or physically necessitate their effects.

In Part II, I critically evaluate contemporary responses to these challenges from the philosophical literature. In particular, I discuss (i) List and Stoljar’s criticism of exclusion worries, (ii) Kroedel’s alternative dualist ontology, (iii) concerns about the notion of causal sufficiency, and (iv) Lowe’s models of dualist mental causation. I argue that none of these proposals provide independent motivation for a thoroughly lightweight account of causation and therefore leave room for improvement.

In the first four chapters of Part III, I develop a thoroughly lightweight model of causation, which builds on interventionist approaches to causation. First, I explain how so-called ‘holding fixed’-requirements in standard interventionist accounts stand in the way of dualist mental causation. I then argue that interventionist accounts should impose a robustness condition on causal correlations and that, with this condition in place, the ‘holding fixed’-requirements can be weakened such that they do allow for dualist mental causation. I dub the interventionist model with such weakened ‘holding fixed’-requirements ‘insensitive interventionism’, argue that it can counter the exclusion worry as well as the common cause worry, and explain under which circumstances it would predict there to be dualist mental causation. Importantly, these circumstances might, for all we know, hold in the actual world.

In the final three chapters of Part III, I defend insensitive interventionism against some objections. I consider the objection that causation must be productive, the objection that causes must (in some sense) physically necessitate their effects, and the objection that insensitive interventionism is too permissive. I respond by drawing from the literature on causation by absences and on the relation between causation and fundamental physics. Overall, insensitive interventionism performs as well as standard interventionist accounts. I conclude that insensitive interventionism is a credible model of causation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2019. p. 290
Series
Umeå studies in philosophy, ISSN 1650-1748 ; 13
Keywords
Mental Causation, Dualism, Non-Reductionism, Causal Exclusion, Causation, Interventionism, Negative Causation, Omissions, Neo-Russellianism, Causation and Physics
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-162376 (URN)978-91-7855-098-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-09-11, Samhällsvetarhuset Hörsal D, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-21 Created: 2019-08-18 Last updated: 2019-08-20Bibliographically approved
Vaassen, B. (2016). Basic Beliefs and the Perceptual Learning Problem: A Substantial Challenge for Moderate Foundationalism. Episteme: A journal of individual and social epistemology, 13(1), 133-149
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Basic Beliefs and the Perceptual Learning Problem: A Substantial Challenge for Moderate Foundationalism
2016 (English)In: Episteme: A journal of individual and social epistemology, ISSN 1742-3600, E-ISSN 1750-0117, Vol. 13, no 1, p. 133-149Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In recent epistemology many philosophers have adhered to a moderate foundationalism according to which some beliefs do not depend on other beliefs for their justification. Reliance on such ‘basic beliefs’ pervades both internalist and externalist theories of justification. In this article I argue that the phenomenon of perceptual learning – the fact that certain ‘expert’ observers are able to form more justified basic beliefs than novice observers – constitutes a challenge for moderate foundationalists. In order to accommodate perceptual learning cases, the moderate foundationalist will have to characterize the ‘expertise’ of the expert observer in such a way that it cannot be had by novice observers and that it bestows justification on expert basic beliefs independently of any other justification had by the expert. I will argue that the accounts of expert basic beliefs currently present in the literature fail to meet this challenge, as they either result in a too liberal ascription of justification or fail to draw a clear distinction between expert basic beliefs and other spontaneously formed beliefs. Nevertheless, some guidelines for a future solution will be provided.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016
Keywords
Epistemology, Epistemology of Perception, Modest Foundationalism, Perception, Basic Beliefs
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-117016 (URN)10.1017/epi.2015.58 (DOI)000370865600008 ()2-s2.0-84957865999 (Scopus ID)
Note

Special Issue 01 (The Epistemology of Perception)

Available from: 2016-02-18 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved
Projects
Causation, Correlation and Sensitivity [2019-06381_VR]; Umeå University; Publications
Vaassen, B. (2024). Mental causation for standard dualists. Australasian Journal of PhilosophyVaassen, B. (2023). Absence and abnormality. Analysis, 83(1), 98-106Vaassen, B. & Sandgren, A. (2021). And therefore. Inquiry
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-6423-1324

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