Closing in on Causal Closure

Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (1-2):96-109 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Causal Closure Principles and Emergentism.E. J. Lowe - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (294):571-586.
On the Causal Completeness of Physics.Agustín Vicente - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):149 – 171.
Mental Causation in a Physical World.Eric Marcus - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 122 (1):27-50.
Emerging From the Causal Drain.Richard Corry - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):29-47.
The Problem of Causal Exclusion and Horgan’s Causal Compatibilism.Janez Bregant - 2003 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (9):305-320.
Nonreductive Physicalism and the Problem of Strong Closure.Sophie Gibb - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (1):29-42.
Causal Exclusion and Overdetermination.Markus E. Schlosser - 2006 - In E. Di Nucci & J. McHugh (eds.), Content, Consciousness and Perception. Cambridge Scholars Press.
Do Causal Powers Drain Away.Ned Block - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):133-150.
Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics.David Yates - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):110-131.


Added to PP

1,093 (#6,014)

6 months
102 (#6,477)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Robert K. Garcia
Baylor University

Citations of this work

Emergence Within Social Systems.Kenneth Silver - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7865-7887.
A Causal Argument for Dualism.Bradford Saad - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2475-2506.
Causal Closure of the Physical, Mental Causation, and Physics.Dejan R. Dimitrijević - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-22.
Causal closure of the physical, mental causation, and physics.Dejan R. Dimitrijević - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-22.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Objects and Persons.Trenton Merricks - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Causes and Conditions.J. L. Mackie - 1965 - American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (4):245 - 264.
A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism.Andrew Melnyk - 2003 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references