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Summary The claim that physics is causally closed is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Completeness of Physics’ (e.g. Papineau 1991). For physics to be causally closed, all physical events (facts, etc.) are due to physical causes. This claim is a crucial premise in the ‘causal’ or ‘no overdetermination argument’ for physicalism. Given this premise, anything else that has physical effects – for example mental events – must, it is then argued, supervene on, or reduce to, or be identical with (etc.) something physical unless we are prepared to accept systematic over-determination.
Key works

A useful historical account of the rise of the view that physics is complete is Papineau 2001. For an extended treatment of the topic see Spurrett 1999.

Introductions

Relevant encyclopedia articles include Robb & Heil 2008 (especially section 2.3) and Stoljar 2001 (especially section 16).

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  1. Harald Atmanspacher & Thomas Filk (2012). Determinism, Causation, Prediction, and the Affine Time Group. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (5-6):5-6.
    This contribution addresses major distinctions between the notions of determinism, causation, and prediction, as they are typically used in the sciences. Formally, this can be elegantly achieved by two ingredients: (i) the distinction of ontic and epistemic states of a system, and (ii) temporal symmetry breakings based on the mathematical concept of the affine time group. Key aspects of the theory of deterministically chaotic systems together with historical quotations from Laplace, Maxwell, and Poincare provide significant illustrations. An important point of (...)
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  2. Renée Bilodeau (1993). L'inertie du Mental. Dialogue 32 (03):507-525.
    This paper addresses two objections raised against anomalous monism. Firstly, on the basis of Davidson's assertion that all causal relations fall under strict laws, many critics conclude mental properties are causally inert since they are non-nomic. I argue that this conclusion follows only on the further assumption that all causally efficacious properties are nomic properties. It is perfectly consistent, however, to hold that there is a law covering each causal relation without each causal statement being the instantiation of a law. (...)
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  3. Andrea Christofidou (2007). God, Physicalism, and the Totality of Facts. Philosophy 82 (4):515-542.
    The paper offers a general critique of physicalism and of one variety of nonphysicalism, arguing that such theses are untenable. By distinguishing between the absolute conception of reality and the causal completeness of physics it shows that the 'explanatory gap' is not merely epistemic but metaphysical. It defends the essential subjectivity and unity of consciousness and its inseparability from a self-conscious autonomous rational and moral being. Casting a favourable light on dualism freed from misconceptions, it suggests that the only plausible (...)
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  4. Richard Corry (2013). Emerging From the Causal Drain. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):29-47.
    For over 20 years, Jaegwon Kim’s Causal Exclusion Argument has stood as the major hurdle for non-reductive physicalism. If successful, Kim’s argument would show that the high-level properties posited by non-reductive physicalists must either be identical with lower-level physical properties, or else must be causally inert. The most prominent objection to the Causal Exclusion Argument—the so-called Overdetermination Objection—points out that there are some notions of causation that are left untouched by the argument. If causation is simply counterfactual dependence, for example, (...)
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  5. Tim Crane (1995). The Mental Causation Debate. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 69:211-36.
    This paper is about a puzzle which lies at the heart of contemporary physicalist theories of mind. On the one hand, the original motivation for physicalism was the need to explain the place of mental causation in the physical world. On the other hand, physicalists have recently come to see the explanation of mental causation as one of their major problems. But how can this be? How can it be that physicalist theories still have a problem explaining something which their (...)
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  6. DavidSpurrett & DavidPapineau (1999). A Note on the Completeness of 'Physics'. Analysis 59 (261):25–29.
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  7. Jerome W. Elbert (2000). Are Souls Real? Prometheus Books.
  8. Robert K. Garcia (2014). Closing in on Causal Closure. Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (1-2):96-109.
    I examine the meaning and merits of a premise in the Exclusion Argument, the causal closure principle that all physical effects have physical causes. I do so by addressing two questions. First, if we grant the other premises, exactly what kind of closure principle is required to make the Exclusion Argument valid? Second, what are the merits of the requisite closure principle? Concerning the first, I argue that the Exclusion Argument requires a strong, “stringently pure” version of closure. The latter (...)
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  9. Simone Gozzano (2007). Pensieri Materiali: Corpo, Mente E Causalità. Utet Università.
    Un uomo in cappa e cilindro di fronte a voi promette: “muoverò la materia con la sola forza del pensiero”. Scettici aspettate la prova. Ed ecco che, mirabilmente, egli alza un braccio. Un braccio, il suo braccio! Un pezzo di materia, dotato di massa, carica elettrica, proprietà magnetiche e quant’altro, si è mosso solo grazie alla sua volontà di alzarlo. Con la sola forza del pensiero il braccio si è sollevato! Per quanti sforzi retorici faccia, nessuno riterrà particolarmente sorprendente l’esperimento. (...)
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  10. Ivar Hannikainen (2010). Questioning the Causal Inheritance Principle. Theoria 25 (3):261-277.
    Mental causation, though a forceful intuition embedded in our commonsense psychology, is difficult to square with the rest of commitments of physicalism about the mind. Advocates of mental causation have found solace in the causal inheritance principle, according to which the mental properties of mental states share the causal powers of their physical counterparts. In this paper, I present a variety of counterarguments to causal inheritance and conclude that the requirements for causal inheritance are stricter than what standing versions of (...)
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  11. Matthew C. Haug (2009). Two Kinds of Completeness and the Uses (and Abuses) of Exclusion Principles. Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):379-401.
    I argue that the completeness of physics is composed of two distinct claims. The first is the commonly made claim that, roughly, every physical event is completely causally determined by physical events. The second has rarely, if ever, been explicitly stated in the literature and is the claim that microphysics provides a complete inventory of the fundamental categories that constitute both the causal features and intrinsic nature of all the events that causally affect the physical universe. After showing that these (...)
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  12. John Heil & Alfred Mele (eds.) (1993). Mental Causation. Clarendon Press.
    I argue that the two standard models of mental causation fail to capture the crucial causal relevance of the reason-giving relations involved. Their common error is an exclusively mechanical conception of causation, on which any justification is bound to be independent of the causal process involved, based upon a general rule from which the correctness of the particular case follows only by subsumption. I establish possibility of an alternative model, by sketching an account of the causal dependence of perceptual knowledge (...)
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  13. Andreas Hüttemann (2013). Einige Bemerkungen zum Prinzip der kausalen Abgeschlossenheit des Physischen. In Jan Michel & Gernot Münster (eds.), Die Suche nach dem Geist. mentis.
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  14. Andrew J. Jaeger (2011). Mental Causation as Teleological Causation. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 85:161-171.
    I argue that the Causal Closure Argument (CCA) and the Explanatory Exclusion Argument (EEA) fail to show that mental causes must either be reduced/ identical to physical causes or that mental causes are epiphenomenal. I begin by granting the soundness of CCA and EEA and go on to argue that they only rule out irreducible mental efficient causes/explanations. A proponent of irreducible mental causation can, therefore, grant the soundness of CCA and EEA, provided she holds mental causation/explanation to be teleological. (...)
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  15. Christian List & Peter Menzies, My Brain Made Me Do It: The Exclusion Argument Against Free Will, and What’s Wrong with It.
    In this short paper, we offer a critical assessment of the "exclusion argument against free will". While the exclusion argument has received much attention in the literature on mental causation, it is seldom discussed in relation to free will. However, in a more informal way, the argument has become increasingly influential in neuroscientific discussions of free will, where it plausibly underlies the view that advances in neuroscience, with its mechanistic picture of how the brain generates thought and behaviour, seriously challenge (...)
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  16. E. J. Lowe (2000). Causal Closure Principles and Emergentism. Philosophy 75 (294):571-586.
    Causal closure arguments against interactionist dualism are currently popular amongst physicalists. Such an argument appeals to some principles of the causal closure of the physical, together with certain other premises, to conclude that at least some mental events are identical with physical events. However, it is crucial to the success of any such argument that the physical causal closure principle to which it appeals is neither too strong nor too weak by certain standards. In this paper, it is argued that (...)
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  17. Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (2010). Emergence and Downward Causation. In Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press.
  18. Nicholas Maxwell (1968). Understanding Sensations. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 46 (August):127-146.
    My aim in this paper is to defend a version of the brain process theory, or identity thesis, which differs in one important respect from the theory put forward by J.J.C. Smart. I shall argue that although the sensations which a person experiences are, as a matter of contingent fact, brain processes, nonetheless there are facts about sensations which cannot be described or understood in terms of any physical theory. These 'mental' facts cannot be described by physics for the simple (...)
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  19. Wilson Mendonça (2010). Mental Causation and the Causal Completeness of Physics. Principia 6 (1):121-132.
    The paper takes issue with a widely accepted view of mental causation. This is the view that mental causation is either reducible to physical causation or ultimately untenable, because incompatible with the causal completeness of physics. The paper examines, first, why recent attempts to save the phenomena of mental causation by way of the notion of supervenient causation fail. The result of this examination is the claim that any attempted specification of the most basic causal factors which supposedly underlie a (...)
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  20. Barbara Montero (2006). What Does the Conservation of Energy Have to Do with Physicalism? Dialectica 60 (4):383-396.
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  21. Barbara Montero (2003). Varieties of Causal Closure. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic. 173-187.
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  22. Barbara Montero & David Papineau (2005). A Defense of the Via Negativa Argument for Physicalism. Analysis 65 (287):233-237.
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  23. Alyssa Ney (2012). The Causal Contribution of Mental Events. In Hill Christopher & Gozzano Simone (eds.), New Perspectives on Type Identity: The Mental and the Physical. Cambridge University Press. 230.
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  24. David Papineau (2013). Causation is Macroscopic but Not Irreducible. In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press. 126.
    In this paper I argue that causation is an essentially macroscopic phenomenon, and that mental causes are therefore capable of outcompeting their more specific physical realizers as causes of physical effects. But I also argue that any causes must be type-identical with physical properties, on pain of positing inexplicable physical conspiracies. I therefore allow macroscopic mental causation, but only when it is physically reducible.
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  25. David Papineau (2009). The Causal Closure of the Physical and Naturalism. In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oup Oxford.
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  26. David Papineau (2001). The Rise of Physicalism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.
    In this paper I want to discuss the way in which physical science has come to claim a particular kind of hegemony over other subjects in the second half of this century. This claim to hegemony is generally known by the name of "physicalism". In this paper I shall try to understand why this doctrine has come to prominence in recent decades. By placing this doctrine in a historical context, we will be better able to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses.
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  27. David Papineau (2000). 10 The Rise of Physicalism. In M. W. F. Stone & Jonathan Wolff (eds.), The Proper Ambition of Science. Routledge. 2--174.
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  28. David Papineau (1991). The Reason Why: Response to Crane. Analysis 51 (January):37-40.
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  29. Panu Raatikainen (2013). Can The Mental Be Causally Efficacious? In K. Talmont-Kaminski M. Milkowski (ed.), Regarding the Mind, Naturally: Naturalist Approaches to the Sciences of the Mental. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  30. Jack Ritchie (2005). Causal Compatibilism -- What Chance? Erkenntnis 63 (1):119-132.
    Orthodox physicalism has a problem with mental causation. If physics is complete and mental events are not identical to physical events (as multiple-realisation arguments imply) it seems as though there is no causal work for the mental to do. This paper examines some recent attempts to overcome this problem by analysing causation in terms of counterfactuals or conditional probabilities. It is argued that these solutions cannot simultaneously capture the force of the completeness of physics and make room for mental causation.
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  31. David Robb, Could Mental Causation Be Invisible?
    E.J. Lowe has recently proposed a model of mental causation on which mental events are emergent, thus exerting a novel, downward causal influence on physical events. Yet on Lowe's model, mental causation is at the same time empirically undetectable, and in this sense is "invisible". Lowe's model is ingenious, but I don't think emergentists should welcome it, for it seems to me that a primary virtue of emergentism is its bold empirical prediction about the long-term results of human physiology. Here (...)
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  32. David Robb & John Heil, Mental Causation. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Worries about mental causation are prominent in contemporary discussions of the mind and human agency. Originally, the problem of mental causation was that of understanding how a mental substance (thought to be immaterial) could interact with a material substance, a body. Most philosophers nowadays repudiate immaterial minds, but the problem of mental causation has not gone away. Instead, focus has shifted to mental properties. How could mental properties be causally relevant to bodily behavior? How could something mental qua mental cause (...)
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  33. Michael Roche (2014). Causal Overdetermination and Kim's Exclusion Argument. Philosophia 42 (3):809-826.
    Jaegwon Kim’s influential exclusion argument attempts to demonstrate the inconsistency of nonreductive materialism in the philosophy of mind. Kim’s argument begins by showing that the three main theses of nonreductive materialism, plus two additional considerations, lead to a specific and (by now) familiar picture of mental causation. The exclusion argument can succeed only if, as Kim claims, this picture is not one of genuine causal overdetermination. Accordingly, one can resist Kim’s conclusion by denying this claim, maintaining instead that the effects (...)
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  34. Constantine Sandis & Giuseppina D'Oro (2013). Reasons and Causes. Palgrave Macmillan.
  35. David Spurrett, The Completeness of Physics.
    The present work is focussed on the completeness of physics, or what is here called the Completeness Thesis: the claim that the domain of the physical is causally closed. Two major questions are tackled: How best is the Completeness Thesis to be formulated? What can be said in defence of the Completeness Thesis? My principal conclusions are that the Completeness Thesis can be coherently formulated, and that the evidence in favour if it significantly outweighs that against it. In opposition to (...)
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  36. David Jon Spurrett (1999). Fundamental Laws and the Completeness of Physics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (3):261 – 274.
    The status of fundamental laws is an important issue when deciding between the three broad ontological options of fundamentalism (of which the thesis that physics is complete is typically a sub-type), emergentism, and disorder or promiscuous realism. Cartwright’s assault on fundamental laws which argues that such laws do not, and cannot, typically state the facts, and hence cannot be used to support belief in a fundamental ontological order, is discussed in this context. A case is made in defence of a (...)
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  37. David Spurrett & David Papineau (1999). A Note on the Completeness of "Physics". Analysis 59 (1):25-29.
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  38. Justin Tiehen (forthcoming). Grounding Causal Closure. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    What does it mean to say that mind-body dualism is causally problematic in a way that other mind-body theories, such as the psychophysical type identity theory, are not? After considering and rejecting various proposals, I advance my own, which focuses on what grounds the causal closure of the physical realm. A metametaphysical implication of my proposal is that philosophers working without the notion of grounding in their toolkit are metaphysically impoverished. They cannot do justice to the thought, encountered in every (...)
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  39. Justin T. Tiehen (2011). Disproportional Mental Causation. Synthese 182 (3):375-391.
    In this paper I do three things. First, I argue that Stephen Yablo’s influential account of mental causation is susceptible to counterexamples involving what I call disproportional mental causation. Second, I argue that similar counterexamples can be generated for any alternative account of mental causation that is like Yablo’s in that it takes mental states and their physical realizers to causally compete. Third, I show that there are alternative nonreductive approaches to mental causation which reject the idea of causal competition, (...)
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  40. Simon van Rysewyk (2013). Pain is Mechanism. Dissertation, University of Tasmania
    What is the relationship between pain and the body? I claim that pain is best explained as a type of personal experience and the bodily response during pain is best explained in terms of a type of mechanical neurophysiologic operation. I apply the radical philosophy of identity theory from philosophy of mind to the relationship between the personal experience of pain and specific neurophysiologic mechanism and argue that the relationship between them is best explained as one of type identity. Specifically, (...)
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  41. Vadim V. Vasilyev (2009). The Hard Problem of Consciousness and Two Arguments for Interactionism. Faith and Philosophy 26 (5):514-526.
    The paper begins with a restatement of Chalmers's "hard problem of consciousness". It is suggested that an interactionist approach is one of the possible solutions of this problem. Some fresh arguments against the identity theory and epiphenomenalism as main rivals of interactionism are developed. One of these arguments has among its colloraries a denial of local supervenience, although not of the causal closure principle. As a result of these considerations a version of "local interactionism" (compatible with causal closure) is proposed.
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  42. Agustín Vicente (2006). On the Causal Completeness of Physics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):149 – 171.
    According to an increasing number of authors, the best, if not the only, argument in favour of physicalism is the so-called 'overdetermination argument'. This argument, if sound, establishes that all the entities that enter into causal interactions with the physical world are physical. One key premise in the overdetermination argument is the principle of the causal closure of the physical world, said to be supported by contemporary physics. In this paper, I examine various ways in which physics may support the (...)
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  43. Daniel von Wachter (2006). Why the Argument From Causal Closure Against the Existence of Immaterial Things is Bad. In H. J. Koskinen, R. Vilkko & S. Philström (eds.), Science - A Challenge to Philosophy? Peter Lang.
    Some argue for materialism claiming that a physical event cannot have a non-physical cause, or by claiming the 'Principle of Causal Closure' to be true. This I call a 'Sweeping Naturalistic Argument'. This article argues against this. It describes what it would be for a material event to have an immaterial cause.
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  44. Brad Weslake, Exclusion Excluded.
    I argue that an independently attractive account of causation and causal explanation provides a principled resolution of the exclusion problem.
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  45. Brad Weslake (forthcoming). Difference-Making, Closure and Exclusion. In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford University Press.
    Consider the following causal exclusion principle: For all distinct properties F and F* such that F* supervenes on F, F and F* do not both cause a property G. Peter Menzies and Christian List have proven that it follows from a natural conception of causation as difference-making that this exclusion principle is not generally true. Rather, it turns out that whether the principle is true is a contingent matter. In addition, they have shown that in a wide range of empirically (...)
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  46. James Woodward (2008). Mental Causation and Neural Mechanisms. In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press.
    This paper discusses some issues concerning the relationship between the mental and the physical, including the so-called causal exclusion argument, within the framework of a broadly interventionist approach to causation.
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  47. Stephen Yablo (2010). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Thinkers. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 9:35-45.
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  48. David Yates (2009). Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):110 - 131.
    The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties are better (...)
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