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Papers

Feedback is always welcome!  My email is: bradsaad@utexas.edu.

Publications
"A Causal Argument for Dualism" (forthcoming) in Philosophical Studies. [published version]
Dualism holds (roughly) that some mental events are fundamental and non-physical. I develop a causal argument for dualism, defend its prima facie plausibility, and spell out some of its implications. I subject the argument to a battery of objections. Some prompt revisions to the argument. Others reveal limitations in scope. It falls out of the discussion that the causal argument for dualism is best used against physicalism as a keystone in a divide and conquer strategy.

Reductive physicalists typically accept the causal argument for their view.  On this score, Tiehen (2015) parts ways with his fellow reductive physicalists.  Heretically, he argues that reductive physicalists should reject the causal argument. Although not myself a reductive physicalist, I show how reductive physicalists can resist this challenge to the causal argument.

"Indeterministic Causation and Two Patches for the Pairing Argument" (forthcoming) in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
       [published version]
Interactionism holds that non-spatial objects (e.g. immaterial minds) stand in causal relations.  The pairing argument aims to refute interactionism.  The pairing argument relies on the premise that non-causal differences underwrite causal differences.  As critics of the argument have noted, that premise is susceptible to counterexamples involving indeterministic causation.  I develop two new versions of the pairing argument that are immune to objections from indeterministic causation.
I defend interactionism against the pairing argument (though not simpliciter).  Roughly, my defense contends that the pairing argument fails for one reason if haecceities exist and another if they don't.*

"How to Befriend Zombies: a Guide for Physicalists" (2016) in Philosophical Studies.      [published version]
Physicalists and zombies are not usually thought of as friends.  After all, zombies figure prominently in the conceivability argument against physicalism and physicalists must deny the possibility of zombies.  Nonetheless, I argue that there is room for a physicalist-zombie alliance. Although not myself a physicalist, I develop a defense of physicalism in which zombies play a central role.

*It remains to be seen whether my defense of interactionism against the pairing argument in "Interactionism, Haecceities, and the Pairing Argument" can be extended to defend interactionism against the new versions of the pairing argument that I develop in "Indeterministic Causation and Two Patches for the Pairing Argument".

Drafts available on request

1. [Title removed for blind review] develops a new modal argument against reductive physicalism.

2. [Title removed for blind review] argues that proponents of the causal argument for physicalism should opt for a non-standard formulation of the causal closure of the physical in order to avoid an explanatory difficulty that afflicts standard formulations.

3. [Title removed for blind review] argues that the transition from a classical framework to special relativity generates a problem for reductive physicalists.  Which problem arises depends on which interpretation of special relativity is adopted.

4. [Title removed for blind review] argues that epiphenomenalist dualism is subject to an exclusion problem on any member of a wide class of physical theories that share a certain symmetry.  There turns out to be an interference effect between solving that exclusion problem for epiphenomenalist dualism and using epiphenomnalist dualist to solve the traditional causal exclusion problem.

5.  [Title removed for blind review] develops an exclusion problem for physicalism and argues that solving it interferes with running the causal argument for physicalism.

6. [Title removed for blind review] argues that a fine-tuning problem afflicts views of experience on which causation helps constitute experience.  Views afflicted by the problem include tracking intentionalism, functionalism, and naive realism.

7. [Title removed for blind review] examines recent arguments for the conclusion that reductive physicalism precludes consciousness from being a deep joint in nature.  I argue that those arguments fail and develop a case against the conclusion.

8. [Title removed for blind review] (coauthored with Han LiMorality is intrapersonally permissive: under some circumstances an agent has more than one morally permitted option. In contrast, epistemic rationality is (plausibly) not intrapersonally permissive: (plausibly) there are no cases in which an agent has more than one epistemically permitted response to her evidence. This disanalogy between morality and epistemology calls out for explanation. The paper's task is to answer that call. We proceed by considering three types of permissive case - cases of ties, cases of incommensurability, and cases of supererogation - and explaining why they have moral instances but not epistemic instances.