Realism Regained:
An Exact Theory of Causation, Teleology and the Mind

(Oxford University Press, 2000, New York)

Abstract: Causation has long been one of the central subjects in philosophy. The late twentieth century has seen a renaissance of interest in the subject, while the development of modal logic, probability theory, mereology , defeasible or "nonmonotonic" logics, and partial semantics (including the situation theory of Barwise, Perry and Etchemendy) have provided the tools needed for an exact and comprehensive theory of causation.

In Realism Regained, Koons constructs a non-Humean theory of causation which sheds light on recent causal theories in epistemology and the philosophy of mind. In the process, he develops a parsimonious metaphysical theory, which accounts for such phenomena as: information, teleology and biological function, mental representation, qualia and mental causation, our knowledge of logic, mathematics and science, the structure of spacetime, the identity of physical objects, and the objectivity of values and moral norms.

Realism Regained offers a broadly "naturalistic" account of norms, building upon and refining the teleological theories of Dretske, Stampe, Millikan and others. However, Koons argues against a narrowly materialistic view, providing seven independent lines of argument for the existence of non-physical facts, in particular, facts of logical, mathematical and natural necessity.

The overall structure of the project is this. The theory of causation (developed in chapters 2 through 6) is used to construct theories of the elements of spacetime (section 4.10.3), of higher-order causation (chapter 7), of natural information (chapter 9), and of enduring substances and their identity-conditions (chapter 18) . The theory of higher-order causation gives rise to a theory of teleofunctionality (chapter 12), and an account of the causal efficacy of logical and mathematical facts (chapter 15). The theories of information and teleology are combined, resulting in an account of the semantics of mental representations (chapter 14): a mental representation carries the content p just in case it has the teleofunction of carrying the information that p. The theory of mental representation is then used in developing theories of mind/body interaction, qualia and free will (chapter 16), and knowledge and induction (chapter 17) . Both the theory of teleology and that of mental representations are used in the development of a eudaemonistic theory of ethics (chapter 19), which in turn is used in sketching an account of moral realism (chapter 20).