“Mental causation as emergent causation”
Although some theorists interested in the nature of dynamical systems and the appearance of non-reducible, higher level (that is, emergent) properties in a physical world, have suggested some possible avenues for understanding the downward causal interaction that is implied by the occurrence of emergent causal processes, there has not been any effort to systematically articulate its basic structure. I develop this articulation through the elucidation of a relevant example: the appearance and interaction of two different levels of painful experiences. I describe the neurological nociceptive subsystems, namely, the discriminative and the affective nociceptive neural structures, which are the neural mechanisms (realizers) of two different and corresponding nociceptive experiences: the discriminative and affective nociceptive experiences. I develop the conceptual articulation of the causal dynamics that structure the interaction between this level of separated (discriminative and affective) nociceptive experiences, and the level of our normal and unitary experience of pain. The purpose of this work is to show that we can have a very satisfactory, scientifically and conceptually well-informed response to the reiterated criticisms that contemporary reductionist philosophers (e.g., Jaegwon Kim, David Lewis, David Armstrong, Brian McLaughlin, David Papineau, and Frank Jackson, among others) have developed of the non-reductive physicalist explanation of mental causation.