What a dualist should say about the exclusion argument

On one very simple formulation, the exclusion argument against dualism starts from the assertion that the following theses are inconsistent: (1) Being in pain causes me to wince. (2) Being in phys1 causes me to wince. (3) Being in pain is distinct from being in phys. (4) If being in pain causes me to wince, nothing distinct from being in pain causes me to wince. The dualist is then invited to agree that (1) and (2) are empirical claims that are (in the context) non-negotiable; and that (4) is a principle of causation or an instance of a principle we must accept, often called ‘the exclusion principle’. The conclusion of the argument is that (3)—a thesis distinctive of traditional dualism—has to go.2 This argument is widely thought to put considerable pressure on dualism if not to refute it outright. In this paper we argue to the contrary that, whether or not their position is ultimately true, dualists have a simple response. Whether there is an inconsistency in (1)-(4) depends on how ‘distinctness’ is interpreted in claims (3) and (4). (Of course the same thing applies, mutatis mutandis to the other terms in (1)-(4); we concentrate here on ‘distinctness’.) As one of us has argued elsewhere, there are a number of different but still legitimate interpretations of ‘distinctness’ (see Stoljar 2006; see also Sandford 2005). Usually the term..
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