In a series of influential articles (Kim 1989b, 1992b, 1993a and 1998), Jaegwon Kim has developed a strong argument against nonreductive physicalism as a plausible solution to mental causation. The argument is commonly called the ’causalexclusion argument’, and it has become, over the years, one of the most serious threats to the nonreductivist point of view. In the first part of this paper I offer a careful reconstruction and detailed discussion of the exclusion argument. In the (...) second part I show why some important objections to it actually fail. (shrink)
There is a growing consensus among philosophers of science that scientific endeavors of understanding the human mind or the brain exhibit explanatory pluralism. Relatedly, several philosophers have in recent years defended an interventionist approach to causation that leads to a kind of causal pluralism. In this paper, I explore the consequences of these recent developments in philosophy of science for some of the central debates in philosophy of mind. First, I argue that if we adopt explanatory pluralism and the (...) interventionist approach to causation, our understanding of physicalism has to change, and this leads to what I call pluralistic physicalism. Secondly, I show that this pluralistic physicalism is not endangered by the causalexclusion argument. (shrink)
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 physicalism in avoiding the causalexclusion of the mental. In particular, I focus on Jaegwon Kim’s influential version of the causalexclusion argument, namely, his supervenience argument. I argue that type physicalism’s advantage is undermined by the following two things: (1) the generalizability of the supervenience argument, and (2) type physicalism’s incompatibility with mental properties at the fundamental level. This involves evaluating the generalization objection to the supervenience argument, probing the metaphysics of physicalism, and showing how (1) and (2) combine in a way that appears underappreciated given the general confidence in type physicalism’s advantage. (shrink)
Given their physical realization, what causal work is left for functional properties to do? Humean solutions to the exclusion problem (e.g. overdetermination and difference-making) typically appeal to counterfactual and/or nomic relations between functional property-instances and behavioural effects, tacitly assuming that such relations suffice for causal work. Clarification of the notion of causal work, I argue, shows not only that such solutions don't work, but also reveals a novel solution to the exclusion problem based on the (...) relations between dispositional properties at different levels of mechanism, which involves three central claims: (i) the causal work of properties consists in grounding dispositions, (ii) functional properties are dispositions, and (iii) the dispositions of mechanisms are grounded in the dispositions of their components. Treating functional mental properties as dispositions of components in psychological mechanisms, I argue that such properties do the causal work of grounding agent-level dispositions. These dispositions, while ultimately grounded in the physical realizers of mental properties, are indirectly so grounded, through a hierarchy of grounding relations that extends upwards, of necessity, through the mental domain. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim’s causalexclusion argument says that if all physical effects have sufficient physical causes, and no physical effects are caused twice over by distinct physical and mental causes, there cannot be any irreducible mental causes. In addition, Kim has argued that the nonreductive physicalist must give up completeness, and embrace the possibility of downward causation. This paper argues first that this extra argument relies on a principle of property individuation, which the nonreductive physicalist need not accept, and (...) second that once we get clear on overdetermination, there is a way to reject the exclusion principle upon which the causalexclusion argument depends, but third that this should not lead to the belief that mental causation is easily accounted for in terms of counterfactual dependencies. (shrink)
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 the causal closure of the physical domain; if they do not have them, we embrace epiphenomenalism, which denies any sort of causal powers to the mental. So, either we violate the causal closure of physics, or we end up with epiphenomenalism. The first two sections of the article describe the problem of causalexclusion and Kim’s causal dilemma. The last two introduce Horgan’s antireductionist answer and my objection to that answer. (shrink)
In this brief note I claim that, contrary to what Esfeld argues in his paper in this same volume, Kim's position with respect to the problem of causalexclusion does indeed commit him to the causal heterogeneity of realized properties.
The principle of causalexclusion is based on two distinct causal notions: causal sufficiency and causation simpliciter. The principle suggests that the former has the power to exclude the latter. But that is problematic since it would amount to claiming that sufficient causes alone can take the roles of causes simpliciter. Moreover, the principle also assumes that events can sometimes have both sufficient causes and causes simpliciter. This assumption is in conflict with the first part of (...) the principle that claims that sufficient causes must exclude causes simpliciter. (shrink)
A critical analysis of recent interventionist responses to the causalexclusion problem is presented. It is argued that the response can indeed offer a solution to the problem, but one that is based on renouncing the multiple realizability thesis. The account amounts to the rejection of nonreductive physicalism and would thus be unacceptable to many. It is further shown that if the multiple realizability thesis is brought back in and conjoined with the interventionist notion of causation, inter-level causation (...) is ruled out altogether. (shrink)
This paper is about the causalexclusion argument against non-reductive physicalism. Many philosophers think that this argument poses a serious problem for non-reductive theories of the mind — some think that it is decisive against them. In the first part I will outline non-reductive physicalism and the exclusion argument. Then I will distinguish between three versions of the argument that address three different versions of non-reductive physicalism. According to the first, the relation between mental and physical events (...) is token-identity. According to the second, mental events are distinct from physical events, but the latter metaphysically include and determine the former. And on the third version, mental and physical events are entirely distinct. I will argue that the causalexclusion argument is not decisive against non-reductive physicalism in any of the three versions. According to non-reductive physicalism, mental events are dependent on physical events. Causalexclusion and overdetermination, however, requires distinct and independent causes. I will argue that the burden of proof lies with the opponents of non-reductive physicalism, who have to explain how metaphysically dependent events can possibly overdetermine an effect or exclude each other from being causally efficacious. (shrink)
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 to cases of downward causation involving supervening macro properties or to render corresponding causal claims meaningless. In sum, the paper argues that, contrary to what many non-reductive physicalists claim, interventionism does not render non-reductive physicalism immune to the problem of causalexclusion. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim argues that unreduced mental causes are excluded from efficacy because physical causes are sufficient in themselves. One response to this causalexclusion argument is to embrace some form of overdetermination. In this paper I consider two forms of overdetermination. Independent overdetermination suggests that two individually sufficient causes bring about one effect. This model fails because the sufficiency of one cause renders the other cause unnecessary. Dependent overdetermination suggests that a physical cause is necessary and sufficient for (...) a given effect, but it necessitates a mental cause of the effect as well. This model fails because the necessity of the mental cause renders the physical cause individually insufficient. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim’s causalexclusion argument has rarely been evaluated from an empirical perspective. This is puzzling because its conclusion seems to be making a testable claim about the world: supervenient properties are causally inefficacious. An empirical perspective, however, reveals Kim’s argument to rest on a mistaken conception about how to test whether a property is causally efficacious. Moreover, the empirical perspective makes visible a metaphysical bias that Kim brings to his argument that involves a principle of non-inclusion.
Is there a problem of causalexclusion between micro- and macro-level physical properties? I argue (following Kim) that the sorts of properties thatin fact are in competition are macro properties, viz., the property of a (macro-) system of `having such-and-such macro properties'' (call this a `macro-structural property'') and the property of the same system of `being constituted by such-and-such a micro-structure'' (call this a `micro-structural property''). I show that there are cases where, for lack of reducibility, there is (...) a prima facie intra-level causal competition between the two kinds of properties. The problem can be resolved without giving up on the causal efficacy of the macro-structural properties if we understandinstances of macro-structural properties to be parts ofmicro-structural property instances. The parthood relation between both kinds of property instances can bemapped onto the way physical theory deals with the relation of their descriptionsin the framework of perturbation theory. The application of this framework to theproblem of emergent properties is discussed. (shrink)
Christian List and Peter Menzies 2009 have looked to interventionist theories of causation for an answer to Jaegwon Kim's causalexclusion problem. Important to their response is the idea of realization-insensitivity. However, this idea becomes mired in issues concerning multiple realization, leaving it unable to fulfil its promise to block exclusion. After explaining why realization-insensitivity fails as a solution to Kim's problem, I look to interventionism to describe a different kind of solution.
Jaegwon Kim's causalexclusion argument has rarely been evaluated from an empirical perspective. This is puzzling because its conclusion seems to be making a testable claim about the world: supervenient properties are causally inefficacious. An empirical perspective, however, reveals Kim's argument to rest on a mistaken conception about how to test whether a property is causally efficacious. Moreover, the empirical perspective makes visible a metaphysical bias that Kim brings to his argument that involves a principle of non-inclusion.
This paper aims to show that a counterfactual approach to causation is not sufficient to provide a solution to the causalexclusion problem in the form of systematic overdetermination. Taking into account the truthmakers of causal counterfactuals provides a strong argument in favour of the identity of causes in situations of translevel, causation.
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 that there is room for these properties to be causally efficacious, given the causal completeness of the physical. In this paper I explain how functional properties can meet both challenges. (shrink)
Terry Horgan University of Memphis In this paper I address the problem of causalexclusion, specifically as it arises for mental properties (although the scope of the discussion is more general, being applicable to other kinds of putatively causal properties that are not identical to narrowly physical causal properties, i.e., causal properties posited by physics). I summarize my own current position on the matter, and I offer a defense of this position. I draw upon and (...) synthesize relevant discussions in various <blockquote>  </blockquote> other papers of mine (some collaborative) that bear on this topic. (shrink)
For over 20 years, Jaegwon Kim’s CausalExclusion 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 CausalExclusion 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, then the CausalExclusion Argument fails. Thus, much of the existing debate turns on the issue of which account of causation is appropriate. In this paper, however, I take a bolder approach and argue that Kim’s preferred version of the CausalExclusion Argument fails no matter what account one gives of causation. Any notion of causation that is strong enough to support the premises of the argument is too strong to play the role required in the logic of the argument. I also consider a second version of the CausalExclusion Argument, and suggest that although it may avoid the problems of the first version, it begs the question against a particular form of non-reductive physicalism, namely emergentism. (shrink)
Recent work by Jaegwon Kim and others suggest that functionalism leaves mental properties causally inefficacious in some sense. I examine three lines of argument for this conclusion. The first appeals to Occam's Razor; the second appeals to a ban on overdetermination; and the third charges that the kind of response I favor to these arguments forces me to give up "the homogeneity of mental and physical causation". I show how each argument fails. While I concede that a positive theory of (...) mental causation is desirable, there is no reason to think that functionalism renders such a theory unattainable. (shrink)
Given Kim’s principle of explanatory exclusion (EE), it follows that in addition to the problem of mental causation, dualism faces a problem of mental explanation. However, the plausibility of EE rests upon the acceptance of a further principle concerning the individuation of explanation (EI). The two methods of defending EI—either by combining an internal account of the individuation of explanation with a semantical account of properties or by accepting an external account of the individuation of explanation—are both metaphysically implausible. (...) This is not, however, to reject the problem of mental explanation, for EE can be replaced with a far weaker principle, which does not require the acceptance of EI, but which generates a similar problem for dualism. (shrink)
The thesis develops solutions to two main problems for mental realism. Mental realism is the theory that mental properties, events, and objects exist, with their own set of characters and causal powers. The first problem comes from the philosophy of science, where Psillos proposes a notion of scientific realism that contradicts mental realism, and consequently, if one is to be a scientific realist in the way Psillos recommends, one must reject mental realism. I propose adaptations to the conception of (...) scientific realism to make it compatible with mental realism. In the process, the thesis defends computational cognitive science from a compelling argument Searle can be seen to endorse but has not put forth in an organized logical manner. A new conception of scientific realism emerges out of this inquiry, integrating the mental into the rest of nature. The second problem for mental realism arises out of non-reductive physicalism- the view that higher-level properties, and in particular mental properties, are irreducible, physically realized, and that physical properties are sufficient non-overdetermining causes of any effect. Kim’s Problem of CausalExclusion aims to show that the mental, if unreduced, does no causal work. Consequently, given that we should not believe in the existence of properties that do not participate in causation, we would be forced to drop mental realism. A solution is needed. The thesis examines various positions relevant to the debate. Several doctrines of physicalism are explored, rejected, and one is proposed; the thesis shows the way in which Kim’s reductionist position has been constantly inconsistent throughout the years of debate; the thesis argues that trope theory does not compete with a universalist conception of properties to provide a solution; and shows weakness in the Macdonald’s non-reductive monist position and Pereboom’s constitutional coincidence account of mental causation. The thesis suggests that either the premises of Kim’s argument are consistent, and consequently his reductio is logically invalid, or at least one of the premises is false, and therefore the argument is not sound. Consequently, the Problem of CausalExclusion that Kim claims emerges out of non-reductive physicalism does not force us to reject mental realism. Mental realism lives on. (shrink)
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 employs two qualifications concerning the physical sufficiency and relative proximity of the physical cause required for every physical effect. The second question is addressed in two steps. I begin by challenging the adequacy of the empirical support offered by David Papineau for closure. Then I assess the merits of “level” and “domain” versions of stringently pure closure. I argue that a domain version lacks adequate and non-question-begging support within the context of the Exclusion Argument. And I argue that the level version leads to a puzzling metaphysics of the physical domain. Thus, we have grounds for rejecting the version of closure required for the Exclusion Argument. This means we can resist the Exclusion Argument while avoiding the implausible implications that come with rejecting one of its other premises. That is, because there are grounds to reject causal closure, one can reasonably affirm the non-overdeterminative causal efficacy of conscious mental states while denying that the latter are identical with physical states. (shrink)
This paper focuses on two prominent arguments claiming that physicalism entails reductionism. One is Kim’s causalexclusion argument (CEA), and the other is Papineau’s causal argument. The paper argues that Kim’s CEA is not logically valid and that it is driven by two implausible justifications. One is “Edward’s dictum”, which is alien to non-reductive physicalism and should be rejected. The other is by endorsement of Papineau’s conception of the physical, immanent in Papineau’s causal argument. This argument (...) only arrives at the physical property-property identities by using a conception of the physical that licenses anything to be reductively physical, including putative core anti-physical entities; thus, leaving Papineau’s causal argument and Kim’s CEA without a reductive physicalist conclusion of philosophical interest. (shrink)
In this paper I examine nonreductive materialism (physicalism). This is a position that Terry Horgan favors in his papers and is probably the most widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind in recent decades. In contrast to this, I will argue that nonreductive materialism is an unstable position and will suggest that we can show this using Horgan's own work on the concept of superdupervenience.
In recent years, the debate on the problem of causalexclusion 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 non-reductive physicalism. The first part of this paper reconstructs the definitional details of these modified interventionist theories. The second part investigates whether the modification proposed in Woodward (2011) is not only compatible with, but moreover supports non-reductive physicalism. In particular, it is examined whether that newest variant of interventionism allows for empirically resolving the problem of causalexclusion as envisaged by Shapiro, Sober and others. (shrink)
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. Responses to causalexclusion are categorized in terms of six different argumentative strategies. In conclusion, caution is advised regarding the inclination to reduce the mental to the physical and sketch a positive direction for substantively characterizing mental causation by recourse to well-confirmed accounts of causation coupled with empirical research. (shrink)
In recent papers, Lei Zhong argues that the autonomy solution to the causalexclusion problem is unavailable to anyone that endorses the counterfactual model of causation. The linchpin of his argument is that the counterfactual theory entails the downward causation principle, which conflicts with the autonomy solution. In this note I argue that the counterfactual theory does not entail the downward causation principle, so it is possible to advocate for the autonomy solution to the causalexclusion (...) problem from within the counterfactual theory of causation. (shrink)
causal concepts, what is to be made of this embarrassment of riches? By considering a variety of theoretical perspectives, she can discover which principles or assumptions about causation are robust, and which hold only within particular frameworks. In particular, she should be suspicious when the different premises in an argument can only be made (...) true by shifting between different theories of causation. I illustrate these themes using the causalexclusion argument. (shrink)
Do component forces exist in conjoined circumstances? Cartwright (1980) says no; Creary (1981) says yes. I'm inclined towards Cartwright's side in this matter, but find several problems with her argumentation. My primary aim here is to present a better, distinctly causal, argument against component forces: very roughly, I argue that the joint posit of component and resultant forces in conjoined circumstances gives rise to a threat of causal overdetermination, avoidance of which best proceeds via eliminativism about component forces. (...) A secondary aim is to show that rejecting component forces does not require, pace Cartwright, rejecting certain attractive theses about what laws of nature express and the role such laws play in scientific explanations. (shrink)
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 said principle imply. In line with this, physicalism may be destined to epiphenomenalism unless multiple realizability turns out false. (shrink)
Some causal explanations are non-committal in that mention of a property in the explanans conveys information about the causal origin of the explanandum even if the property in question plays no causal role for the explanandum . Programme explanations are a variety of non-committal causal (NCC) explanations. Yet their interest is very limited since, as I will argue in this paper, their range of applicability is in fact quite narrow. However there is at least another variety (...) of NCC explanations, causal orientation explanations, which offer a plausible model for many explanations in the special sciences. (shrink)
What caused the event we report by saying “the window shattered”? Was it the baseball, which crashed into the window? Causal exclusionists say: many, many microparticles collectively caused that event—microparticles located where common sense supposes the baseball was. Unitary large objects such as baseballs cause nothing; indeed, by Alexander’s dictum, there are no such objects. This paper argues that the false claim about causal efficacy is instead the one that attributes it to the many microparticles. Causation obtains just (...) where there is an “invariance”, a true generalization to the effect that had things been different with the putative cause, things would have been correspondingly different with the putative effect. But “correspondingly” here requires a rough metric. There must be a fact as to which alternative group events, involving many microparticles, would have departed less from the putative cause of the shattering, and which would have departed more. Surprisingly, there is no such fact. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim argues that if mental properties are irreducible with respect to physical properties then mental properties are epiphenomenal. I believe this conditional is false and argue that mental properties, along with their physical counterparts, may overdetermine their effects. Kim contends, however, that embracing overdetermination in the mental case, due to supervenience, renders the attribution of overdetermination vacuous. This way of blocking the overdetermination option, however, makes the attribution of mental epiphenomenalism equally vacuous. Furthermore, according to Kim’s own logic, physical (...) properties, and not mental properties, may be in danger of losing their causal relevance. (shrink)