About this topic
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. La Ineficacia Causal de Lo Mental y El Éxito Explicativo de la Psicología (The Causal Inefficacy of the Mental and the Explanatory Success of Psychology).Gustavo Fernández Acevedo - 2005 - Critica 37 (110):53 - 77.
    Las llamadas "estrategias deflacionistas" han constituido una alternativa relativamente popular para enfrentar el problema de la presunta ineficacia causal de los estados mentales en el marco del materialismo no reduccionista. Las propuestas de Lynn Baker y Tyler Burge, desarrolladas en el marco de esta estrategia, coinciden en señalar la necesidad de limitar la importancia de la reflexión metafísica y privilegiar el análisis de la explicación mentalista como fuente para la solución (o "disolución") de los problemas de la causación mental. En (...)
  2. Counterfactuals, Overdetermination and Mental Causation.Simona Aimar - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3):469-477.
    The Exclusion Problem 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 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 effect has (...)
  3. Causal Exclusion Without Physical Completeness and No Overdetermination.Gebharter Alexander - forthcoming - Abstracta – Linguagem, Mente E Ação.
    Hitchcock (2012) demonstrated that the validity of causal exclusion arguments as well as the plausibility of several of their premises hinges on the specific theory of causation endorsed. In this paper I show that the validity of causal exclusion arguments—if represented within the theory of causal Bayes nets the way Gebharter (2015) suggests—actually requires much weaker premises than the ones which are typically assumed. In particular, neither completeness of the physical domain nor the no overdetermination assumption are required.
  4. The Mental and the Physical as a Problem for Philosophy.R. F. Alfred Hoernle - 1917 - Philosophical Review 26 (3):297-314.
  5. Mopes, Dopes, and Tropes: A Critique of the Trope Solution to the Problem of Mental Causation.Peter Alward - 2008 - Dialogue 47 (01):53-.
    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 (...)
  6. Mopes, Dopes, and Tropes.Peter Alward - 2008 - 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 (...)
  7. Are Functional Properties Causally Potent?Peter Alward - 2006 - 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 (...)
  8. A Nonreductivist Solution to Mental Causation.Amie Thomasson - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (2):181-195.
    Nonreductive physicalism provides an appealing solution to the nature of mental properties. But its success as a theory of mental properties has been called into doubt by claims that it cannot adequately handle the problems of mental causation, as it leads either to epiphenomenalism or to thoroughgoing overdetermination. I argue that these apparent problems for the nonreductivist are based in fundamental confusion about causation and explanation. I distinguish two different types of explanation and two different relations to which they appeal: (...)
  9. Mental Causation.Holly Andersen - 2015 - 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. (...)
  10. Mental Causation: The Mind-Body Problem. By Anthony Dardis.Holly K. Andersen - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (3):450-455.
  11. The Mental and the Physical.Louise Anthony - 2009 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge.
  12. Reduction with Autonomy: Mental Causation, Reduction and Supervenience.Lm Antony & J. Levine - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 11:83-105.
  13. Who's Afraid of Disjunctive Properties?Louise M. Antony - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):1-21.
  14. Mental Causation.Louise M. Antony - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (4):564.
  15. Excluding Exclusion: The Natural(Istic) Dualist Approach.István Aranyosi - 2008 - 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 (...)
  16. The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'.Gavin Ardley - 1969 - Philosophical Studies 18:227-228.
  17. Overdetermination and Elimination.Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (4):479-503.
    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 (...)
  18. There is No Exclusion Problem.Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir & Tim Crane - 2013 - In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 248.
  19. Causation, Coincidence, and Commensuration.Paul Audi - 2013 - 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 (...)
  20. Wittgenstein's Solutions to the Color Exclusion Problem.James W. Austin - 1980 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 41 (September-December):142-149.
  21. The Priority Principle.Andrew M. Bailey - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1):163-174.
    I introduce and argue for a Priority Principle, according to which we exemplify certain of our mental properties in the primary or non-derivative sense. I then apply this principle to several debates in the metaphysics and philosophy of mind.
  22. Nonreductive Materialism I. Introduction.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2009 - 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): (...)
  23. Metaphysics and Mental Causation.Lynne Rudder Baker - 1993 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 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 (...)
  24. Critical Notice: Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism, by Derk Pereboom.Derek Ball - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (1):118-129.
    Critical notice of Derk Pereboom's "Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism". Discusses Pereboom's idea that conscious states might be misrepresented in introspection, and his idea that instantiations of mental properties are composed of instantiations of physical properties.
  25. Type Physicalism and Causal Exclusion.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2013 - 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 (...)
  26. Defending the Piggyback Principle Against Shapiro and Sober's Empirical Approach.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2010 - 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 (...)
  27. Interventionism and the Exclusion Problem.Yasmin Bassi - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
    Jaegwon Kim (1998a, 2005) claims that his exclusion problem follows a priori for the non-reductive physicalist given her commitment to five apparently inconsistent theses: mental causation, non-identity, supervenience, causal closure and non-overdetermination. For Kim, the combination of these theses entails that mental properties are a priori excluded as causes, forcing the non-reductive physicalist to accept either epiphenomenalism, or some form of reduction. In this thesis, I argue that Kim’s exclusion problem depends on a particular conception of causation, namely sufficient production, (...)
  28. Rendering Interventionism and Non‐Reductive Physicalism Compatible.Michael Baumgartner - 2013 - 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 (...)
  29. The Logical Form of Interventionism.Michael Baumgartner - 2012 - 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 (...)
  30. Interventionism and Epiphenomenalsim.Michael Baumgartner - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):359-383.
  31. Interventionist Causal Exclusion and Non-Reductive Physicalism.Michael Baumgartner - 2009 - 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 (...)
  32. Review of Mental Causation and Ontology, Edited by S. C. Gibb, E. J. Lowe, and R. D. Ingthorsson. [REVIEW]Umut Baysan - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):906-909.
  33. Making Mental Properties More Natural.Aaron Ben-Zeev - 1986 - The Monist 69 (3):434-446.
  34. Realization, Determination and Mental Causation.Agustín Vicente Benito - 2001 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 16 (40):77-94.
    The by now famous exclusion problem for mental causation admits only one possible solution, as far as I can see, namely: that mental and physical properties are linked by a vertical relation. In this paper, starting from what I take to be sensible premises about properties, I will be visiting some general relations between them, in order to see whether, first, it is true that some vertical relationship, other than identity, makes different sorts of causation compatible and second, whether physical (...)
  35. Exclusion Again.Karen Bennett - 2008 - 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 (...)
  36. Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable and How, Just Maybe, to Tract It.Karen Bennett - 2003 - 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 (...)
  37. Erratum To: Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):183-183.
  38. Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):17-40.
    Widespread causal overdetermination is often levied as an objection to nonreductive theories of minds and objects. In response, nonreductive metaphysicians 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.
  39. Free Will and Mental Quausation.Sara Bernstein & Jessica M. Wilson - 2016 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 2:310-331.
    Free will, if such there be, involves free choosing: the ability to mentally choose an outcome, where the outcome is 'free' in being, in some substantive sense, up to the agent of the choice. As such, it is clear that the questions of how to understand free will and mental causation are connected, for events of seemingly free choosing are mental events that appear to be efficacious vis-a-vis other mental events as well as physical events. Nonetheless, the free will and (...)
  40. Some Causal Factors in Mental Blocking.A. G. Bills - 1935 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 18 (2):172.
  41. Causal Exclusion and Evolved Emergent Properties.Alexander Bird - 2008 - In Ruth Groff (ed.), Revitalizing Causality: Realism About Causality in Philosophy and Social Science. Routledge. pp. 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 (...)
  42. The Relation Between Frequency of Blinking and Effort Expended in Mental Work.M. E. Bitterman & E. Soloway - 1946 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 36 (2):134.
  43. Program Explanation and Higher-Order Properties.Suzanne Bliss & Jordi Fernández - 2010 - Acta Analytica 25 (4):393-411.
    Our aim in this paper is to evaluate Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit’s ‘program explanation’ framework as an account of the autonomy of the special sciences. We argue that this framework can only explain the autonomy of a limited range of special science explanations. The reason for this limitation is that the framework overlooks a distinction between two kinds of properties, which we refer to as ‘higher-level’ and ‘higher-order’ properties. The program explanation framework can account for the autonomy of special (...)
  44. Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back: Mental Causation, Reduction and Supervenience.N. Block - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 11:107-132.
  45. Do Causal Powers Drain Away.Ned Block - 2003 - 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 (...)
  46. Can the Mind Change the World?Ned Block - 1989 - In George S. Boolos (ed.), Meaning and Method: Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press. pp. 137--170.
  47. Causally Productive Activities.Jim Bogen - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):112-123.
    This paper suggests and discusses an answer to the question what distinguishes causal from non-causal or coincidental co-occurrences based on Elizabeth Anscombe’s idea that causality is a highly abstract concept whose meaning derives from our understanding of specific causally productive activities (e.g., pulling, scraping, burning), and her rejection of the assumption that causality can be informatively understood in terms of general regularities of some sort.
  48. Physical Science and Man's Position.Niels Bohr - 1957 - Philosophy Today 1 (1):65-69.
  49. Exclusion, Overdetermination, and the Nature of Causation.Thomas D. Bontly - 2005 - 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 (...)
  50. Proportionality, Causation, and Exclusion.Thomas D. Bontly - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):331-348.
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