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Summary Traditionally conceived, the exclusion problem is faced by non-reductive materialist views which hold that mental causes are distinct from physical causes. Many think that if materialism is true, then every physical effect must have a sufficient physical cause; but in that case the purportedly distinct mental causes can appear to be "excluded" as genuine causes because the physical causes "already" do all the "causal work". Exclusion can work both ways - some have argued that mental causes exclude physical causes - but most have thought that it is mental causes that are under threat. Some have taken the exclusion argument to demonstrate the falsity of non-reductive materialism, but most have tried to defend non-reductive materialism by contending that the exclusion argument is unsound.
Key works The exclusion argument was first proposed by Norman Malcolm (1968). After a brief flurry of interest in Malcolm's argument (e.g. Goldman 1969; Martin 1971), discussion of the issue largely died off until Jaegwon Kim resurrected the exclusion argument and used it as the central component of his sustained critique of non-reductive materialism (1989; 1998; 2005). Subsequent debates have had two main focal points. First, the nature of the mental-physical causal relation (e.g. Horgan 1997; Crisp & Warfield 2001; Kim 2007; Loewer 2007; Menzies 2013; Zhong 2014). Second, explaining the holding of the mental-physical supervenience relation (e.g. Yablo 1992; Shoemaker 2007; Paul 2007; Walter 2007; Bennett 2008Wilson 2009; Pereboom 2011).
Introductions Sophie Gibb's introduction to the volume she co-edited with Lowe and Ingthorsson (2013) is a good place to start, and that volume also contains much of the state of the art thinking on the exclusion problem. Kim 2005, or Kim 2007 alongside Loewer 2007, are also a good way in. Enyclopedia entries include Yoo 2007, Robb & Heil 2008 - although these survey the broader issue of mental causation, of which the exclusion problem is just one part.
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  1. Simona Aimar (2011). Counterfactuals, Overdetermination and Mental Causation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):469-477.
    The Exclusion Problem (ep) for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett (2003, 2008) puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination: if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of ep, the assumption that if an (...)
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  2. Simona Aimar (2011). Counterfactuals, Overdetermination and Mental Causation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3):469-477.
    The Exclusion Problem (EP) for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett (2008, 2003) puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination: if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that if an (...)
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  3. Peter Alward (2008). Mopes, Dopes, and Tropes. Dialogue 47 (1):53-64.
    ABSTRACT: A popular strategylor resolving Kim 's exclusion problem is to suggest that mental and physical property tropes are identical despite the non-identity of the mental and physical properties themselves. I argue that mental and physical tropes can be identified without losing the dispositional character of mentality only if a dual-character hypothesis regarding the intrinsic characters of tropes is endorsed. But even with this assumption, the causaI efficacy of the wrong dispositions is secured.RÉSUMÉ: On résout habituellement le problème de l'exclusion (...)
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  4. Peter Alward (2006). Are Functional Properties Causally Potent? Sorites 17:49-55.
    Kim has defended a solution to the exclusion problem which deploys the «causal inheritance principle» and the identification of instantiations of mental properties with instantiations of their realizing physical properties. I wish to argue that Kim's putative solution to the exclusion problem rests on an equivocation between instantiations of properties as bearers of properties and instantiations as property instances. On the former understanding, the causal inheritance principle is too weak to confer causal efficacy upon mental properties. And on the latter (...)
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  5. Holly Andersen (forthcoming). Mental Causation. In N. Levy J. Clausen (ed.), Springer Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer.
    The problem of mental causation in contemporary philosophy of mind concerns the possibility of holding two different views that are in apparent tension. The first is physicalism, the view that there is nothing more to the world than the physical. The second is that the mental has genuine causal efficacy in a way that does not reduce to pure physical particle-bumping. This article provides a historical background to this question, with focus on Davidson’s anomalous monism and Kim’s causal exclusion problem. (...)
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  6. Louise M. Antony (2003). Who's Afraid of Disjunctive Properties? Philosophical Issues 13 (1):1-21.
  7. Louise M. Antony (1996). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 105 (4):564-566.
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  8. István Aranyosi (2008). Excluding Exclusion: The Natural(Istic) Dualist Approach. Philosophical Explorations 11 (1):67-78.
    The exclusion problem for mental causation is one of the most discussed puzzles in the mind-body literature. There has been a general agreement among philosophers, especially because most of them are committed to some form of physicalism, that the dualist cannot escape the exclusion problem. I argue that a proper understanding of dualism --its form, commitments, and intuitions?makes the exclusion problem irrelevant from a dualist perspective. The paper proposes a dualist approach, based on a theory of event causation, according to (...)
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  9. Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir (forthcoming). Overdetermination and Elimination. International Journal of Philosophical Studies:1-25.
    I focus on two arguments, due to Jaegwon Kim and Trenton Merricks, that move from claims about the sufficiency of one class of causes to the reduction or elimination of another class of entity, via claims about overdetermination. I argue that in order to validate their move from sufficiency to reduction or elimination, both Kim and Merricks must assume that there can be no ‘weak overdetermination’; i.e., that no single effect can have numerically distinct but dependently sufficient causes occurring at (...)
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  10. Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir & Tim Crane (2013). There is No Exclusion Problem. In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press. 248.
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  11. Paul Audi (2013). Causation, Coincidence, and Commensuration. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):447-464.
    What does it take to solve the exclusion problem? An ingenious strategy is Stephen Yablo’s idea that causes must be commensurate with their effects. Commensuration is a relation between events. Roughly, events are commensurate with one another when one contains all that is required for the occurrence of the other, and as little as possible that is not required. According to Yablo, one event is a cause of another only if they are commensurate. I raise three reasons to doubt that (...)
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  12. James W. Austin (1980). Wittgenstein's Solutions to the Color Exclusion Problem. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 41 (September-December):142-149.
  13. R. J. B. (1969). The "Mental" and the "Physical.". Review of Metaphysics 22 (4):752-752.
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  14. Lynne Rudder Baker (2009). Nonreductive Materialism I. Introduction. In Brian McLaughlin and Ansgar Beckermann (ed.), Oxford Handbook for the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
    The expression ‘nonreductive materialism’ refers to a variety of positions whose roots lie in attempts to solve the mind-body problem. Proponents of nonreductive materialism hold that the mental is ontologically part of the material world; yet, mental properties are causally efficacious without being reducible to physical properties.s After setting out a minimal schema for nonreductive materialism (NRM) as an ontological position, I’ll canvass some classical arguments in favor of (NRM).1 Then, I’ll discuss the major challenge facing any construal of (NRM): (...)
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  15. Lynne Rudder Baker (1993). Metaphysics and Mental Causation. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press. 75-96.
    My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mental causation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mental causation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where physical reality consists of (...)
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  16. Joseph A. Baltimore (2013). Type Physicalism and Causal Exclusion. Journal of Philosophical Research 38:405-418.
    While concerns of the mental being causally excluded by the physical have persistently plagued non-reductive physicalism, such concerns are standardly taken to pose no problem for reductive type physicalism. Type physicalists have the obvious advantage of being able to countenance the reduction of mental properties to their physical base properties by way of type identity, thereby avoiding any causal competition between instances of mental properties and their physical bases. Here, I challenge this widely accepted advantage of type physicalism over non-reductive (...)
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  17. Joseph A. Baltimore (2010). Defending the Piggyback Principle Against Shapiro and Sober's Empirical Approach. Synthese 175 (2):151-168.
    Jaegwon Kim’s supervenience/exclusion argument attempts to show that non-reductive physicalism is incompatible with mental causation. This influential argument can be seen as relying on the following principle, which I call “the piggyback principle”: If, with respect to an effect, E, an instance of a supervenient property, A, has no causal powers over and above, or in addition to, those had by its supervenience base, B, then the instance of A does not cause E (unless A is identical with B). In (...)
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  18. Michael Baumgartner (2013). Rendering Interventionism and Non‐Reductive Physicalism Compatible. Dialectica 67 (1):1-27.
    In recent years, the debate on the problem of causal exclusion has seen an ‘interventionist turn’. Numerous non-reductive physicalists (e.g. Shapiro and Sober 2007) have argued that Woodward's (2003) interventionist theory of causation provides a means to empirically establish the existence of non-reducible mental-to-physical causation. By contrast, Baumgartner (2010) has presented an interventionist exclusion argument showing that interventionism is in fact incompatible with non-reductive physicalism. In response, a number of revised versions of interventionism have been suggested that are compatible with (...)
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  19. Michael Baumgartner (2012). The Logical Form of Interventionism. Philosophia 40 (4):751-761.
    This paper argues that, notwithstanding the remarkable popularity of Woodward's (2003) interventionist analysis of causation, the exact definitional details of that theory are surprisingly little understood. There exists a discrepancy in the literature between the clarity about the logical details of interventionism, on the one hand, and the enormous work interventionism is expected to do, on the other. The first part of the paper distinguishes three significantly different readings of the logical form of Woodward's (2003) interventionist theory and identifies the (...)
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  20. Michael Baumgartner (2009). Interventionist Causal Exclusion and Non-Reductive Physicalism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):161-178.
    The first part of this paper presents an argument showing that the currently most highly acclaimed interventionist theory of causation, i.e. the one advanced by Woodward, excludes supervening macro properties from having a causal influence on effects of their micro supervenience bases. Moreover, this interventionist exclusion argument is demonstrated to rest on weaker premises than classical exclusion arguments. The second part then discusses a weakening of interventionism that Woodward suggests. This weakened version of interventionism turns out either to be inapplicable (...)
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  21. Umut Baysan (2014). Review of 'Mental Causation and Ontology'. [REVIEW] Mind:1-4.
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  22. Aaron Ben-Zeev (1986). Making Mental Properties More Natural. The Monist 69 (3):434-446.
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  23. Karen Bennett (2008). Exclusion Again. In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press.
    I think that there is an awful lot wrong with the exclusion problem. So, it seems, does just about everybody else. But of course everyone disagrees about exactly _what_ is wrong with it, and I think there is more to be said about that. So I propose to say a few more words about why the exclusion problem is not really a problem after all—at least, not for the nonreductive physicalist. The genuine _dualist_ is still in trouble. Indeed, one of (...)
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  24. Karen Bennett (2003). Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable and How, Just Maybe, to Tract It. Noûs 37 (3):471-97.
    The basic form of the exclusion problem is by now very, very familiar. 2 Start with the claim that the physical realm is causally complete: every physical thing that happens has a sufficient physical cause. Add in the claim that the mental and the physical are distinct. Toss in some claims about overdetermination, give it a stir, and voilá—suddenly it looks as though the mental never causes anything, at least nothing physical. As it is often put, the physical does all (...)
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  25. Sara Bernstein (forthcoming). Overdetermination Underdetermined. Erkenntnis:1-24.
    Widespread causal overdetermination is often levied as an objection to nonreductive theories of minds and objects. In response, nonreductive physicalists have argued that the type of overdetermination generated by their theories is different from the sorts of coincidental cases involving multiple rock-throwers, and thus not problematic. This paper pushes back. I argue that attention to differences between types of overdetermination discharges very few explanatory burdens, and that overdetermination is a bigger problem for the nonreductive metaphysician than previously thought.
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  26. Alexander Bird (2008). Causal Exclusion and Evolved Emergent Properties. In Ruth Groff (ed.), Revitalizing Causality: Realism About Causality in Philosophy and Social Science. Routledge. 163--78.
    Emergent properties are intended to be genuine, natural higher level causally efficacious properties irreducible to physical ones. At the same time they are somehow dependent on or 'emergent from' complexes of physical properties, so that the doctrine of emergent properties is not supposed to be returned to dualism. The doctrine faces two challenges: (i) to explain precisely how it is that such properties emerge - what is emergence; (ii) to explain how they sidestep the exclusion problem - how it is (...)
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  27. Ned Block (2003). Do Causal Powers Drain Away. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):133-150.
    In this note, I will discuss one issue concerning the main argument of Mind in a Physical World (Kim, 1998), the Causal Exclusion Argument. The issue is whether it is a consequence of the Causal Exclusion Argument that all macro level causation (that is, causation above the level of fundamental physics) is an illusion, with all of the apparent causal powers of mental and other macro properties draining into the bottom level of physics. I will argue that such a consequence (...)
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  28. Ned Block (1989). Can the Mind Change the World? In George S. Boolos (ed.), Meaning and Method: Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press. 137--170.
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  29. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Exclusion, Overdetermination, and the Nature of Causation. Journal of Philosophical Research 30:261-282.
    A typical thesis of contemporary materialism holds that mental properties and events supervene on, without being reducible to, physical properties and events. Many philosophers have grown skeptical about the causal efficacy of irreducibly supervenient properties, however, and one of the main reasons is an assumption about causation which Jaegwon Kim calls the causal exclusion principle. I argue here that this principle runs afoul of cases of genuine causal overdetermination.Many would argue that causal overdetermination is impossible anyway, but a careful analysis (...)
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  30. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Proportionality, Causation, and Exclusion. Philosophia 32 (1-4):331-348.
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  31. Jan Bransen (1998). Making X Happen: Prolepsis and the Problem of Mental Determination. In J. A. M. Bransen & S. E. Cuypers (eds.), Human Action, Deliberation and Causation. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 131--153.
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  32. Janez Bregant (2004). Van Gulick's Solution of the Exclusion Problem Revisited. Acta Analytica 19 (33):83-94.
    The anti-reductionist who wants to preserve the causal efficacy of mental phenomena faces several problems in regard to mental causation, i.e. mental events which cause other events, arising from her desire to accept the ontological primacy of the physical and at the same time save the special character of the mental. Psychology tries to persuade us of the former, appealing thereby to the results of experiments carried out in neurology; the latter is, however, deeply rooted in our everyday actions and (...)
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  33. Janez Bregant (2003). The Problem of Causal Exclusion and Horgan's Causal Compatibilism. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (9):305-320.
    It is quite obvious why the antireductionist picture of mental causation that rests on supervenience is an attractive theory. On the one hand, it secures uniqueness of the mental; on the other hand, it tries to place the mental in our world in a way that is compatible with the physicalist view. However, Kim reminds us that anti-reductionists face the following dilemma: either mental properties have causal powers or they do not. If they have them, we risk a violation of (...)
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  34. Andrei A. Buckareff (2012). An Action Theoretic Problem for Intralevel Mental Causation. Philosophical Issues 22 (1):89-105.
    I take it that the following is a desideratum of our theories in the philosophy of mind. A theory in the philosophy of mind should help us better understand ourselves as agents and aid in our theorizing about the nature of action and agency. In this paper I discuss a strategy adopted by some defenders of nonreductive physicalism in response to the problem of causal exclusion. The strategy, which I refer to as “intralevelism,” relies on treating mental causation as intra (...)
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  35. Andrei A. Buckareff (2011). Intralevel Mental Causation. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (3):402-425.
    This paper identifies and critiques a theory of mental causation defended by some proponents of nonredutive physicalism that I call “intralevelism.” Intralevelist theories differ in their details. On all versions, the causal outcome of the manifestation of physical properties is physical and the causal outcome of the manifestation of mental properties is mental. Thus, mental causation on this view is intralevel mental to mental causation. This characterization of mental causation as intralevel is taken to insulate nonreductive physicalism from some objections (...)
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  36. Neil Campbell (2013). Do MacDonald and MacDonald Solve the Problem of Mental Causal Relevance? Philosophia 41 (4):1149-1158.
    Ever since Davidson first articulated and defended anomalous monism, nonreductive physicalists have struggled with the problem of mental causation. Considerations about the causal closure of the physical domain and related principles about exclusion make it very difficult to maintain the distinctness of mental and physical properties while securing a causal role for the former. Recently, philosophers have turned their attention to the underlying metaphysics and ontology of the mental causation debate to gain traction on this issue. Cynthia MacDonald and Graham (...)
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  37. Neil Campbell (2013). Reasons and the First-Person: Explanatory Exclusion and Explanatory Pluralism. Dialogue 52 (1):25-42.
    In two recent papers, Jaegwon Kim offers an account of action explanation that is agent-centered and reasons-based. I argue that, despite his claims to the contrary, Kim’s proposal points the way to a pluralist view of explanation that might resolve the problem of explanatory exclusion and provide a way for nonreductive physicalists to escape the supervenience/exclusion argument. Dans deux articles récents, Jaegwon Kim aborde le problème de l’explication de l’action d’une façon qui est centrée sur l’agent et fondée sur les (...)
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  38. Neil Campbell (2010). Explanatory Exclusion and the Intensionality of Explanation. Theoria 76 (3):207-220.
    Ausonio Marras has argued that Jaegwon Kim's principle of explanatory exclusion depends on an implausibly strong interpretation of explanatory realism that should be rejected because it leads to an extensional criterion of individuation for explanations. I examine the role explanatory realism plays in Kim's justification for the exclusion principle and explore two ways in which Kim can respond to Marras's criticism. The first involves separating criteria for explanatory truth from questions of explanatory adequacy, while the second appeals to Kim's fine-grained (...)
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  39. Neil Campbell (2008). Explanatory Exclusion and the Individuation of Explanations. Facta Philosophica 10 (1):25-37.
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  40. Neil Campbell & Dwayne Moore (2009). On Kim's Exclusion Principle. Synthese 169 (1):75 - 90.
    In this paper we explore Jaegwon Kim’s principle of explanatory exclusion. Kim’s support for the principle is clarified and we critically evaluate several versions of the dual explananda response authors have offered to undermine it. We argue that none of the standard versions of the dual explananda reply are entirely successful and propose an alternative approach that reveals a deep tension in Kim’s metaphysics. We argue that Kim can only retain the principle of explanatory exclusion if he abandons his longstanding (...)
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  41. Manuel Campos (1995). Kim on the Exclusion Problem. Philosophical Issues 6:167-70.
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  42. Brandon Carey (2010). Overdetermination And The Exclusion Problem. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):251 - 262.
    The exclusion problem is held to show that mental and physical events are identical by claiming that the denial of this identity is incompatible with the causal completeness of physics and the occurrence of mental causation. The problem relies for its motivation on the claim that overdetermination of physical effects by mental and physical causes is objectionable for a variety of reasons. In this paper, I consider four different definitions of ?overdetermination? and argue that, on each, overdetermination in all cases (...)
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  43. José Luis Prades Celma (1996). Philosophy of Mind, de Jaegwon Kim. Teorema: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 16 (1):127-130.
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  44. Jonas Christensen (2014). Determinable Properties and Overdetermination of Causal Powers. Philosophia 42 (3):695-711.
    Do determinable properties such as colour, mass, and height exist in addition to their corresponding determinates, being red, having a mass of 1 kilogram, and having a height of 2 metres? Optimists say yes, pessimists say no. Among the latter are Carl Gillett and Bradley Rives who argue that optimism leads to systematic overdetermination of causal powers and hence should be rejected on the grounds that the position is ontologically unparsimonious. In this paper I defend optimism against this charge by (...)
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  45. Jonas Christensen & Jesper Kallestrup (2012). Counterfactuals and Downward Causation: A Reply to Zhong. Analysis 72 (3):513-517.
    Lei Zhong (2012. Counterfactuals, regularity and the autonomy approach. Analysis 72: 75–85) argues that non-reductive physicalists cannot establish the autonomy of mental causation by adopting a counterfactual theory of causation since such a theory supports a so-called downward causation argument which rules out mental-to-mental causation. We respond that non-reductive physicalists can consistently resist Zhong's downward causation argument as it equivocates between two familiar notions of a physical realizer.
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  46. Lenny Clapp (2001). Disjunctive Properties. Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):111 - 136.
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  47. 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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  48. Edward T. Cox (2008). Crimson Brain, Red Mind: Yablo on Mental Causation. Dialectica 62 (1):77–99.
    Stephen Yablo offers a solution to the problem of mental causation by claiming that the physical is a determinate of the mental's determinable, and therefore the mental and physical do not compete for causal relevance. I present Yablo's solution and argue that the mental‐physical relation cannot meet three necessary conditions for determination. That relation fails to meet the requirements that determinates of the same determinable be incompatible and that no property can be a determinate of more than one determinable. Further, (...)
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  49. Thomas M. Crisp & Ted A. Warfield (2001). Kim's Master Argument. [REVIEW] Noûs 35 (2):304–316.
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  50. Anthony Dardis, A Structure for Mental Causation.
    This paper suggests a structure that makes room for a class of solutions to the mental causation problem.
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