Difference-Making, Closure and Exclusion

In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 215-231 (2017)
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Consider the following causal exclusion principle: For all distinct properties F and F* such that F* supervenes on F, F and F* do not both cause a property G. Peter Menzies and Christian List have proven that it follows from a natural conception of causation as difference-making that this exclusion principle is not generally true. Rather, it turns out that whether the principle is true is a contingent matter. In addition, they have shown that in a wide range of empirically ordinary cases, it follows that F* causes G and F does not. These cases plausibly include instances where F* is a mental property and F and G are physical properties. If this is the right conception of causation, it therefore turns out that the physical world is not causally closed. In this paper I show that there is an alternative conception of causation as difference-making that does not have the same consequences. Whether the physical world is causally closed therefore turns out to depend, inter alia, on which conception of difference-making is correct. I give a number of arguments for the alternative conception of difference-making.



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Brad Weslake
New York University, Shanghai

Citations of this work

Causal exclusion and the limits of proportionality.Neil McDonnell - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (6):1459-1474.
Proportionality, contrast and explanation.Brad Weslake - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797.

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References found in this work

Mental causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
.Ernest LePore & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.) - 1985 - Blackwell.
The rise of physicalism.David Papineau - 2000 - In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.). Cambridge University Press.

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