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Physicalism and overdetermination

Mind 107 (426):411-432 (1998)

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  1. Proportionality, Abstract Causation, and the Exclusion Problem.Alexey Aliyev - 2022 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 30 (2):127-143.
    A considerable number of philosophers are attracted to what might be called ‘causal type-abstractionism’ – the view that photographs, symphonies, models of cars, novels, flags, and other multiply i...
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  • Conservation Laws and the Philosophy of Mind: Opening the Black Box, Finding a Mirror.J. Brian Pitts - 2019 - Philosophia 48 (2):673-707.
    Since Leibniz's time, Cartesian mental causation has been criticized for violating the conservation of energy and momentum. Many dualist responses clearly fail. But conservation laws have important neglected features generally undermining the objection. Conservation is _local_, holding first not for the universe, but for everywhere separately. The energy in any volume changes only due to what flows through the boundaries. Constant total energy holds if the global summing-up of local conservation laws converges; it probably doesn't in reality. Energy conservation holds (...)
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  • Exclusion Again.Karen Bennett - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 280--307.
    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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  • Causal Exclusion and Physical Causal Completeness.Dwayne Moore - 2019 - Wiley: Dialectica 73 (4):479-505.
    Nonreductive physicalists endorse the principle of mental causation, according to which some events have mental causes: Sid climbs the hill because he wants to. Nonreductive physicalists also endorse the principle of physical causal completeness, according to which physical events have sufficient physical causes: Sid climbs the hill because a complex neural process in his brain triggered his climbing. Critics typically level the causal exclusion problem against this nonreductive physicalist model, according to which the physical cause is a sufficient cause of (...)
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  • Paraphrasability and the Causal Status of Types.Alexey Aliyev - 2022 - Theoria 88 (4):812-828.
    Some are attracted to the view that repeatable artworks, such as films, novels, plays, symphonies, photographs, and the like, are a particular kind of abstracta—namely, types. This view, however, is not unproblematic. One of the most serious problems it faces is the so-called "creation problem." The core idea behind this problem is that, on the one hand, it seems reasonable to accept the claims that (1) repeatable artworks are types, (2) types cannot be created, and (3) repeatable artworks are created, (...)
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  • Mental Causation Versus Physical Causation: No Contest.Crawford L. Elder - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):110-127.
    James decides that the best price today on pork chops is at Supermarket S, then James makes driving motions for twenty minutes, then James’ car enters the parking lot at Supermarket S. Common sense supposes that the stages in this sequence may be causally connected, and that the pattern is commonplace: James’ belief (together with his desire for pork chops) causes bodily behavior, and the behavior causes a change in James’ whereabouts. Anyone committed to the idea that beliefs and desires (...)
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  • No Microphysical Causation? No Problem: Selective Causal Skepticism and the Structure of Completeness-Based Arguments for Physicalism.Matthew C. Haug - 2019 - Synthese 196 (3):1187-1208.
    A number of philosophers have argued that causation is not an objective feature of the microphysical world but rather is a perspectival phenomenon that holds only between “coarse-grained” entities such as those that figure in the special sciences. This view seems to pose a problem for arguments for physicalism that rely on the alleged causal completeness of physics. In this paper, I address this problem by arguing that the completeness of physics has two components, only one of which is causal. (...)
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  • Token Monism, Event Dualism and Overdetermination.Hagit Benbaji - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):pp. 63-81.
    The argument from causal overdetermination is considered to be the shortest route to token monism. It only assumes that:1.Efficacy: Mental events are causes of physical events.2.Closure: Every physical event has a sufficient physical cause.3.Exclusion: Systematic Causal Overdetermination is impossible: if an event x is a sufficient cause of an event y then no event x* distinct from x is a cause of y.4.Identity: Therefore, mental events are physical events.Exclusion does not deny the possibility of two gunmen that fi re at (...)
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  • Token Monism, Event Dualism and Overdetermination.Hagit Benbaji - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):63-81.
    The argument from causal overdetermination is considered to be the shortest route to token monism. It only assumes that:1.Efficacy: Mental events are causes of physical events.2.Closure: Every physical event has a sufficient physical cause.3.Exclusion: Systematic Causal Overdetermination is impossible: if an event x is a sufficient cause of an event y then no event x* distinct from x is a cause of y.4.Identity: Therefore, mental events are physical events.Exclusion does not deny the possibility of two gunmen that fi re at (...)
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  • Is the Mystery an Illusion? Papineau on the Problem of Consciousness.Pär Sundström - 2008 - Synthese 163 (2):133-143.
    A number of philosophers have recently argued that consciousness properties are identical with some set of physical or functional properties and that we can explain away the frequently felt puzzlement about this claim as a delusion or confusion generated by our different ways of apprehending or thinking about consciousness. This paper examines David Papineau’s influential version of this view. According to Papineau, the difference between our “phenomenal” and “material” concepts of consciousness produces an instinctive but erroneous intuition that these concepts (...)
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  • Causal Essentialism Versus the Zombie Worlds.Brian Jonathan Garrett - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):93-112.
    David Chalmers claims that the logical possibility of ‘zombie worlds’ — worlds physically indiscernible from the actual world, but that lack consciousness — reveal that consciousness is a distinct fact, or property, in addition to the physical facts or properties.The ‘existence’ or possibility of Zombie worlds violates the physicalist demand that consciousness logically supervene upon the physical. On the assumption that the logical supervenience of consciousness upon the physical is, indeed, a necessary entailment of physicalism, the existence of zombie worlds (...)
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  • Emergent Properties.Hong Yu Wong - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Emergence is a notorious philosophical term of art. A variety of theorists have appropriated it for their purposes ever since George Henry Lewes gave it a philosophical sense in his 1875 Problems of Life and Mind. We might roughly characterize the shared meaning thus: emergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.) Each (...)
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  • Mental Causation.David Robb & John Heil - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Worries about mental causation are prominent in contemporary discussions of the mind and human agency. Originally, the problem of mental causation was that of understanding how a mental substance (thought to be immaterial) could interact with a material substance, a body. Most philosophers nowadays repudiate immaterial minds, but the problem of mental causation has not gone away. Instead, focus has shifted to mental properties. How could mental properties be causally relevant to bodily behavior? How could something mental qua mental cause (...)
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  • Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics.David Yates - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):110-131.
    The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties are better (...)
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  • What is the Exclusion Problem?Jeff Engelhardt - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (2):205-232.
    The philosophical literature contains at least three formulations of the problem of causal exclusion. Although each of the three most common formulations targets theories according to which some effects have ‘too many determiners’, no one is reducible to either of the others. This article proposes two ‘new’ exclusion problems and suggests that exclusion is not a single problem but a family of problems unified by the situations they problematize. It is shown, further, that for three of the most popular attempts (...)
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  • On the Distinction Between Reductive and Nonreductive Physicalism.Matthew C. Haug - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (4):451-469.
    Abtract: This article argues that the debate between reductive and nonreductive physicalists is best characterized as a disagreement about which properties are natural. Among other things, natural properties are those that characterize the world completely. All physicalists accept the “completeness of physics,” but this claim contains a subtle ambiguity, which results in two conceptions of natural properties. Reductive physicalists should assert, while nonreductive physicalists should deny, that a single set of low-level physical properties is natural in both of these senses. (...)
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  • Physicality for Physicalists.D. Gene Witmer - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):457-472.
    How should the “physical” in “physicalism” be understood? I here set out systematic criteria of adequacy, propose an account, and show how the account meets those criteria. The criteria of adequacy focus on the idea of rational management: to vindicate philosophical practice, the account must make it plausible that we can assess various questions about physicalism. The account on offer is dubbed the “Ideal Naturalist Physics” account, according to which the physical is that which appears in an ideal theory that (...)
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  • Two Kinds of Completeness and the Uses (and Abuses) of Exclusion Principles.Matthew C. Haug - 2009 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):379-401.
    I argue that the completeness of physics is composed of two distinct claims. The first is the commonly made claim that, roughly, every physical event is completely causally determined by physical events. The second has rarely, if ever, been explicitly stated in the literature and is the claim that microphysics provides a complete inventory of the fundamental categories that constitute both the causal features and intrinsic nature of all the events that causally affect the physical universe. After showing that these (...)
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  • Physicalism and the Fallacy of Composition.Crawford L. Elder - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 50 (200):332-43.
    A mutation alters the hemoglobin in some members of a species of antelope, and as a result the members fare better at high altitudes than their conspecifics do; so high-altitude foraging areas become open to them that are closed to their conspecifics; they thrive, reproduce at a greater rate, and the gene for altered hemoglobin spreads further through the gene pool of the species. That sounds like a classic example (owed to Karen Neander, 1995) of a causal chain traced by (...)
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  • Exclusion.Daniel Lim - 2015 - In God and Mental Causation. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.
    Jaegwon Kim’s (2005) most recent formulation of the so-called Supervenience Argument against Non-Reductive Physicalism is discussed. The two stages of Kim’s argument can be seen as instances of, what I will call, the Generalized Exclusion Argument.
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  • The Zombie Attack, Perry’s Parry, and a Riposte: A Slight Softening of the “Hard Problem” of Consciousness.J. Ritchie - 2017 - Topoi 36 (1):55-65.
    The “hard problem” of consciousness is a challenge for explanations of the nature of our phenomenal experiences. Chalmers has claimed that physicalist solutions to the challenge are ill-suited due, in part, to the zombie argument against physicalism. Perry has suggested that the zombie argument begs the question against the physicalist, and presents no relevant threat to the view. Although seldom discussed in the literature, I show there is defensive merit to Perry’s “parry” of the zombie attack. The success of the (...)
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  • An Epistemic Reductio of Causal Reductionism.Eugene Mills - 2003 - Topoi 22 (2):151-161.
  • Counterfactual Causation and Mental Causation.Jens Harbecke - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (2):363-385.
    Counterfactual conditionals have been appealed to in various ways to show how the mind can be causally efficacious. However, it has often been overestimated what the truth of certain counterfactuals actually indicates about causation. The paper first identifies four approaches that seem to commit precisely this mistake. The arguments discussed involve erroneous assumptions about the connection of counterfactual dependence and genuine causation, as well as a disregard of the requisite evaluation conditions of counterfactuals. In a second step, the paper uses (...)
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  • Explanation, Emergence and Causality: Comments on Crane.Michele Di Francesco - 2010 - In Graham Macdonald & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Tim Crane's ‘Cosmic Hermeneutics vs. Emergence: The Challenge of the Explanatory Gap’ claims that non‐reductive physicalism must either close the explanatory gap, addressing the challenge famously posed by Levine's argument, or become identical to emergentism. Since no way to close the gap is available, the result is that there can be no interesting philosophical position intermediate between physicalism and emergentism. This chapter argues that if we look at the relation between physicalism and emergentism from the vantage point of reduction, Crane's (...)
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  • Overdetermining Causes.Jonathan Schaffer - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):23 - 45.
    When two rocks shatter the window at once, what causes the window to shatter? Is the throwing of each individual rock a cause of the window shattering, or are the throwings only causes collectively? This question bears on the analysis of causation, and the metaphysics of macro-causation. I argue that the throwing of each individual rock is a cause of the window shattering, and generally that individual overdeterminers are causes.
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  • There is No Exclusion Problem.Tim Crane & Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir - 2013 - In E. J. Lowe, S. C. Gibb & R. D. Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 248-66.
    Many philosophers want to say both that everything is determined by the physical and subject to physical laws and principles, and that certain mental entities cannot be identified with any physical entities. The problem of mental causation is to make these two assumptions compatible with the causal efficacy of the mental. The concern is that this physicalist picture of the world leaves no space for the causal efficacy of anything non-physical. The physical, as it is sometimes said, excludes anything non- (...)
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  • Another Argument for Animalism: The Argument From Causal Powers.Jimmy Alfonso Licon - 2012 - Prolegomena 11 (2):169-180.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Determination of Mental and Neural States.Jens Harbecke & Harald Atmanspacher - 2012 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 32 (3):161-179.
    Mental and neural states are related to one another by vertical interlevel relations and by horizontal intralevel relations. For particular choices of such relations, problems arise if causal efficacy is ascribed to mental states. In a series of influential papers and books, Kim has presented his much discussed “supervenience argument,” which ultimately amounts to the dilemma that mental states either are causally inefficacious or they hold the threat of overdetermining neural states. Forced by this disjunction, Kim votes in favor of (...)
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  • A Defense of Nonreductive Mental Causation.Andrew Russo - 2013 - Dissertation, The University of Oklahoma
    Mental causation is a problem and not just a problem for the nonphysicalist. One of the many lessons learned from Jaegwon Kim’s writings in the philosophy of mind is that mental causation is a problem for the nonreductive physicalist as well. A central component of the common sense picture we have of ourselves as persons is that our beliefs and desires causally explain our actions. But the completeness of the “brain sciences” threatens this picture. If all of our actions are (...)
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  • Alexander's Dictum and the Reality of Familiar Objects.Crawford L. Elder - 2003 - Topoi 22 (2):163-171.
  • Naturalism and Physicalism.D. Gene Witmer - 2012 - In Robert Barnard & Neil Manson (eds.), Continuum Companion to Metaphysics. pp. 90-120.
    A substantial guide providing an overview of both physicalism and metaphysical naturalism, reviewing both questions of formulation and justification for both doctrines. Includes a diagnostic strategy for understanding talk of naturalism as a metaphysical thesis.
     
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  • Pain is Mechanism.Simon van Rysewyk - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Tasmania
    What is the relationship between pain and the body? I claim that pain is best explained as a type of personal experience and the bodily response during pain is best explained in terms of a type of mechanical neurophysiologic operation. I apply the radical philosophy of identity theory from philosophy of mind to the relationship between the personal experience of pain and specific neurophysiologic mechanism and argue that the relationship between them is best explained as one of type identity. Specifically, (...)
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  • Reductive Levels and Multi-Scale Structure.Patrick McGivern - 2008 - Synthese 165 (1):53 - 75.
    I discuss arguments about the relationship between different “levels” of explanation in the light of examples involving multi-scale analysis. I focus on arguments about causal competition between properties at different levels, such as Jaegwon Kim’s “supervenience argument.” A central feature of Kim’s argument is that higher-level properties can in general be identified with “micro-based” properties. I argue that explanations from multi-scale analysis give examples of explanations that are problematic for accounts such as Kim’s. I argue that these difficulties suggest that (...)
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  • Nonreductive Physicalism and the Problem of Strong Closure.Sophie Gibb - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (1):29-42.
    Closure is the central premise in one of the best arguments for physicalism—the argument from causal overdetermination. According to Closure, at every time at which a physical event has a sufficient cause, it has a sufficient physical cause. This principle is standardly defended by appealing to the fact that it enjoys empirical support from numerous confirming cases (and no disconfirming cases) in physics. However, in recent literature on mental causation, attempts have been made to provide a stronger argument for it. (...)
     
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  • Neo-Thomistic Hylomorphism Applied to Mental Causation and Neural Correlates of Consciousness.Matthew Keith Owen - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham
  • Problems of Mental Causation - Whether and How It Can Exist A Review of Jaegwon Kim's Mind in a Physical World.Rüdiger Vaas - 2002 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 8.
    There is a tension or even contradiction between mental causation - the belief that some mental events or properties are causally relevant for some physical events or properties - and the irreducibility of mental features to physical ones, the causal closure of the physical, and the assumption that there is no overdetermination of the physical. To reconcile these premises was a promise of nonreductive physicalism, but a closer inspection shows that it is, on the contrary, a source of the problem (...)
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  • On the Causal Completeness of Physics.Agustín Vicente - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):149 – 171.
    According to an increasing number of authors, the best, if not the only, argument in favour of physicalism is the so-called 'overdetermination argument'. This argument, if sound, establishes that all the entities that enter into causal interactions with the physical world are physical. One key premise in the overdetermination argument is the principle of the causal closure of the physical world, said to be supported by contemporary physics. In this paper, I examine various ways in which physics may support the (...)
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  • Conceptual Gaps and Odd Possibilities.Scott Sturgeon - 1999 - Mind 108 (430):377-380.
    Scott Sturgeon has claimed to undermine the principal argument for Physicalism, in his words, the view that ’actuality is exhausted by physical reality’. In noting that actuality is exhausted by physical reality, the Physicalist is not claiming that all that there is in actuality are those things identified by physics. Rather the thought is that actuality is made up of all the things identified by physics and anything which is a compound of these things. So there are tables as well (...)
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  • Do You Mind? The Anthropological Question Underlying Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Bioethical Discussions.Thomas F. Dailey, Std Osfs & Peter J. Leonard - 2006 - Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Understanding 29 (1-2):110-21.
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  • Current Physics and 'the Physical'.Agustín Vicente - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):393-416.
    Physicalism is the claim that that there is nothing in the world but the physical. Philosophers who defend physicalism have to confront a well-known dilemma, known as Hempel’s dilemma, concerning the definition of ‘the physical’: if ‘the physical’ is whatever current physics says there is, then physicalism is most probably false; but if ‘the physical’ is whatever the true theory of physics would say that there is, we have that physicalism is vacuous and runs the risk of becoming trivial. This (...)
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  • Locating the Overdetermination Problem.D. G. Witmer - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):273-286.
    Physicalists motivate their position by posing a problem for the opposition: given the causal completeness of physics and the impact of the mental (or, more broadly, the seemingly nonphysical) on the physical, antiphysicalism implies that causal overdetermination is rampant. This argument is, however, equivocal in its use of 'physical'. As Scott Sturgeon has recently argued, if 'physical' means that which is the object of physical theory, completeness is plausible, but the further claim that the mental has a causal impact on (...)
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  • Physicalism and the Fallacy of Composition.Crawford L. Elder - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 50 (200):332-343.
  • The Exclusion Problem Meets the Problem of Many Causes.Matthew C. Haug - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (1):55-65.
    In this paper I develop a novel response to the exclusion problem. I argue that the nature of the events in the causally complete physical domain raises the “problem of many causes”: there will typically be countless simultaneous low-level physical events in that domain that are causally sufficient for any given high-level physical event. This shows that even reductive physicalists must admit that the version of the exclusion principle used to pose the exclusion problem against non-reductive physicalism is too strong. (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics and the Plight of Physicalism.Fernando Birman - 2009 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (2):207-225.
    The literature on physicalism often fails to elucidate, I think, what the word physical in physical ism precisely means. Philosophers speak at times of an ideal set of fundamental physical facts, or they stipulate that physical means non-mental , such that all fundamental physical facts are fundamental facts pertaining to the non-mental. In this article, I will probe physicalism in the very much tangible framework of quantum mechanics. Although this theory, unlike “ideal physics” or some “final theory of non-mentality”, is (...)
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  • On Kim’s Exclusion Principle.Neil Campbell & Dwayne Moore - 2009 - 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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  • On the Distinction Between Cause-Cause Exclusion and Cause-Supervenience Exclusion.Jens Harbecke - 2013 - Philosophical Papers 42 (2):209-238.
    This paper is concerned with the connection between the causal exclusion argument and the supervenience argument and, in particular, with two exclusion principles that figure prominently in these arguments. Our aim is, first, to reconstruct the dialectics of the two arguments by formalizing them and by relating them to an anti-physicalist argument by Scott Sturgeon. In a second step, we assess the conclusiveness of the two arguments. We demonstrate that the conclusion of both the causal exclusion argument and the supervenience (...)
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