Research

Most of my research focuses on causation and explanation. I am particularly interested in exploring how a scientifically and metaphysically respectable understanding of these notions can inform debates in philosophy of mind and philosophy of AI. I also have some research interests in philosophy of language and epistemology.

 

Since August 2021, I am employed on my own research project: Causation, Correlation and Sensitivity. The project is funded by a Swedish Research Council international postdoc grant and will take place at Umeå University and Rutgers University over a period of three years. Before starting this project, I was a post-doc on the DFG-funded Determinism, Control, and the Consequence Argument project at the University of Cologne.

This page provides links to my published work, including my PhD thesis, and lists my work in progress.

See my CV for more info, such as employment history, teaching experience, and presentations.

Published Work

Offical copies are available via the links, open access PhilArchive drafts can be accessed by clicking the title. Please cite the official copies when available. Feel free to contact me if you have difficulty accessing them.

PhD Thesis

Causal After All: A Model of Mental Causation for Dualists

Supervision: Pär Sundström (primary supervisor), Gunnar Björnsson, Torfinn Huvenes (2016-2019), and Andreas Stokke (2014-2016) 

In the Fall of 2019, I attained my PhD at Umeå University.

 

In my dissertation, I defend the controversial thesis that a standard dualist ontology of mind can allow for mental causation even if all events have sufficient physical causes. That is to say, I argue that it is possible for dualist mental phenomena to non-overdeterministically cause behavior in worlds where the physical realm is complete. I also critically assess previous proposals to this extent.

 

The dissertation was shortlisted for the 2020 Mercier Prize for monographs in metaphysics and first philosophy, awarded jointly by the philosophy departments at KU Leuven and Université Catholique de Louvain.

A full text is available via DiVa.

Hard copies are available upon request.

Causal_After_All_Bram_Vaassen_CoverPage only.jpg

The excellent cover design by Tom Swaak

Work in Progress

[Drafts available upon request]

A paper on mental causation, defending the central thesis from my dissertation.

A paper on difference-making, arguing that it fails as a sufficient criterion for causation because it fails to incorporate insensitivity requirements.


[Drafts available in the near future]

A paper on the causal pairing argument, arguing that it poses no serious threat to current accounts of dualist mental causation.

A paper on explanation and machine learning, arguing against the popular claim that decisions by AI algorithms defy explanation.

A paper on
projection behaviour in non-veridical contexts, arguing that some of the purported data incurs a chessire cat problem.