What is the Exclusion Problem?

Introduction

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 on the Subject

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: examining either the “horizontal” or “vertical” aspects of the non-reductive model (this distinction was first drawn in Donaldson 2019).

  • The horizontal approach concerns the nature of the mental-physical causal relation (e.g. Horgan 1997; Crisp & Warfield 2001; Kim 2007; Loewer 2007; List & Menzies 2009; Zhong 2014).
  • The vertical approach concerns the explaining of the holding of the mental-physical supervenience relation (e.g. Yablo 1992; Shoemaker 2007; Paul 2007; Walter 2007; Bennett 2008; Wilson 2009; Pereboom 2011).

An Introduction to the Subject

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.

References

  1. 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.
  2. Kim’s Master Argument. [REVIEW] Thomas M. Crisp & Ted A. Warfield – 2001 – Noûs 35 (2):304–316.
  3. Vertical Versus Horizontal: What is Really at Issue in the Exclusion Problem?John Donaldson – 2019 – Synthese:1-16.
  4. Mental Causation and Ontology.Sophie GibbE. J. Lowe & R. D. Ingthorsson (eds.) – 2013 – Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. The Compatibility of Mechanism and Purpose.Alvin I. Goldman – 1969 – Philosophical Review 78 (October):468-82.
  6. Kim on Mental Causation and Causal Exclusion.Terence E. Horgan – 1997 – Philosophical Perspectives 11:165-84.
  7. Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim – 2005 – Princeton University Press.
  8. Causation and Mental Causation.Jaegwon Kim – 2007 – In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 227–242.
  9. The Myth of Non-Reductive Materialism.Jaegwon Kim – 1989 – Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 63 (3):31-47.
  10. Mind in a Physical World: An Essay on the Mind–Body Problem and Mental Causation.Jaegwon Kim – 1998 – MIT Press.
  11. Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim – 2005 – Princeton University Press.
  12. Causation and Mental Causation.Jaegwon Kim – 2007 – In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 227–242.
  13. Nonreductive Physicalism and the Limits of the Exclusion Principle.Christian List & Peter Menzies – 2009 – Journal of Philosophy 106 (9):475-502.
  14. Mental Causation, or Something Near Enough.Barry M. Loewer – 2007 – In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 243–64.
  15. Mental Causation, or Something Near Enough.Barry M. Loewer – 2007 – In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 243–64.
  16. The Conceivability of Mechanism.Norman Malcolm – 1968 – Philosophical Review 77 (January):45-72.
  17. On the Conceivability of Mechanism.Michael Martin – 1971 – Philosophy of Science 38 (March):79-86.
  18. Constitutive Overdetermination.L. A. Paul – 2007 – In J. K. Campbell, M. O’Rourke & H. S. Silverstein (eds.), Causation and Explanation. MIT Press. pp. 4–265.
  19. Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism.Derk Pereboom – 2011 – Oxford University Press.
  20. Mental Causation.David Robb & John Heil – 2008 – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  21. Physical Realization.Sydney Shoemaker – 2007 – Oxford University Press UK.
  22. Determinables, Determinates, and Causal Relevance.Sven Walter – 2007 – Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (2):217-244.
  23. Determination, Realization and Mental Causation.Jessica Wilson – 2009 – Philosophical Studies 145 (1):149-169.
  24. Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo – 1992 – Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
  25. Mental Causation.Julie Yoo – 2007 – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  26. Sophisticated Exclusion and Sophisticated Causation.Lei Zhong – 2014 – Journal of Philosophy 111 (7):341-360.

One thought on “What is the Exclusion Problem?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.