My doctoral dissertation ''Contemporary Dualism and Mental Causation'', will focus on the puzzle of causation by conscious events in the physical world for contemporary dualist theories of consciousness. Dualists maintain that conscious events like being in pain are not physical or in any way reducible to physical events. Given that it is widely accepted that all physical events are fully determined by previous physical events, the dualist view seems to imply that conscious events cannot cause physical events. However, instances of causation by conscious events are very familiar: our being in pain causes us to wince and our being thirsty causes us to drink water. Accounting for such familiar causal relations presents a challenge for dualism.
I will critically evaluate three recent dualist attempts to solve this puzzle and provide an alternative approach which relies on recent developments in philosophy of causation and philosophy of science. These developments indicate that some pragmatic considerations are involved in the notion of causation, and I will argue that these considerations might come in handy for the dualist. For now I conclude that even though this new approach encounters challenges of its own, it avoids some of the serious pitfalls previous dualist solutions to the puzzle ran into.