Modern Physics and the Energy-Conservation Objection to Mind-Body Dualism

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One of the most commonly cited objections to substance dualism is that it violates the principle of energy conservation (PEC). After carefully looking at this energy-conservation (EC) objection, I arguethat it fails when one carefully looks at the role of PEC in current physics. The arguments I present, however, also undercut the EC objection against several other philosophical views it has been used against, such as the agent causation view of libertarian free will. Unlike previous responses to this objection, my arguments will be based on a careful examination of the nature of energy and the status of PEC in contemporary physics.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in American Philosophical Quarterlyfollowing peer review. The version of record of:

“Modern Physics and the Energy-Conservation Objection to Mind-Body Dualism.” American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 1, January 2008, pp. 31–42.

is available online at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20464395