dualism argues that there is a two-way interaction between mental
and physical substances, not all forms of dualism agree. Epiphenomenalism
argues that mental events are caused by - or are a by-product of
- physical events, but that the interaction is one-way: mental events
cannot affect physical ones. The analogy often used is that of the
smoke that comes from a factory which is a by-product of its running,
but does not actually affect its running.
One of the curious
side effects of this theory is that it implies that decision making
is not a mental event. Apart from flying in the face of most common
sense attitudes, this consequence throws up a further problem: how
are decisions made? Is decision making a bodily process? If so,
what difference is there between epiphenomenalism and certain forms
is often confused with materialism but this is in fact a misunderstanding.
The reason for this is the way in which the theory classes mental
events as secondary, leading to the view that physical events are
primary. While this may be true, what most people miss is the fact
that mental events are said to be caused by physical events. This
being so, mental events cannot be identical with events, just as
smoke cannot be identical with the fire which causes it.