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General Relativity, Mental Causation, and Energy Conservation

Pitts, J. Brian (2019) General Relativity, Mental Causation, and Energy Conservation. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The conservation of energy and momentum have been viewed as undermining Cartesian mental causation since the 1690s. Modern discussions of the topic tend to use mid-19th century physics, neglecting both locality and Noether’s theorem and its converse. The relevance of General Relativity (GR) has rarely been considered. But a few authors have proposed that the non-localizability of gravitational energy and consequent lack of physically meaningful local conservation laws answers the conservation objection to mental causation: conservation already fails in GR, so there is nothing for
minds to violate.

This paper is motivated by two ideas. First, one might take seriously the fact that GR formally has an infinity of rigid symmetries of the action and hence, by Noether’s first theorem, an infinity of conserved energies-momenta (thus answering Schrödinger’s 1918 false-negative objection). Second, Sean Carroll has asked (rhetorically) how one should modify the Dirac-Maxwell-Einstein equations to describe mental causation. This paper uses the generalized Bianchi identities to show that General Relativity tends to exclude, not facilitate, such Cartesian mental causation. In the simplest case, Cartesian mental influence must be spatio-temporally constant, and hence 0. The difficulty may diminish for more complicated models. Its persuasiveness is also affected by larger world-view considerations.

The new general relativistic objection provides some support for realism about gravitational energy-momentum in GR (taking pseudotensor laws seriously). Such realism also answers an objection to theories of causation involving conserved quantities, because energies-momenta would be conserved even in GR.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pitts, J. Brianjbp25@cam.ac.uk0000-0002-7299-5137
Keywords: General Relativity, gravitational energy, conservation laws, Noether’s theorem, transfer theory of causation, Cartesianism, dualism, interactionism, mind-body problem
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Science and Religion
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Dr. J. Brian Pitts
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 12:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2019 12:00
Item ID: 16385
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Science and Religion
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: August 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16385

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