Chapter 2: Kim’s causal exclusion argument against non-reductivism
2.2 A summary of Kim’s exclusion argument
2.2.5 Dissolving the paradox by other means
Naturally, there are other ways of dissolving the paradox, but these strategies are or would be rejected by Kim. Others have proposed to give up No overdetermination (Sider 2003, Schaffer 2003) and to accept that certain outcomes can be heavily and systematically overdetermined. Allowing the systematic overdetermination of physical outcomes provides a solution because without the prohibition of overdetermination we are not forced to choose
32 This is how Kim formulates the causal inheritance principle: “If mental property M is realized in a system at t
in virtue of physical realization base P the causal powers of this instance of M are identical with the causal powers of P” (Kim 1992:18)
between mental and physical causes. In section 2.4 I will devote more attention to this thought. I think that this approach to dissolving the paradox is highly problematic and one can provide strong arguments against it.
Others proposed to give up the exclusion principle based on a different and more convincing argument (Árnadóttir & Crane 2013) finding motivation for thinking that the issue of overdetermination is simply irrelevant for the non-reductive physicalist as the distinctness of the mental and the physical can be maintained without maintaining that the mental and the physical causes involved in the exclusion argument are separate causes in a sense that would require to talk about them as proper overdeterminers. They are distinct in a similar way as parts are distinct from wholes or as the statue is distinct from the lamp of clay that it is made of, but for the same reason they are not separate or independent in the sense in which the different shooters in a firing squad are separate and independent causes. I find this to be a promising approach and it does have the potential to disarm Kim’s version of the exclusion problem as on this account mental causes don’t need to have causal powers that doesn’t belong to the realizer system or some of its parts. However, I won’t consider the latter option in this thesis as I decided to focus on other options.
The rest of this chapter will be interested mainly in the validity of certain premises in Kim’s exclusion argument, with a special focus on causal closure (section 2.3), and I will put effort into making more sense of the No overdetermination idea he proposed (section 2.4). After that I will focus on Menzies’ approach to exclusion which is similar to Kim’s in that they both believe in an incompatibilist approach to the exclusion problem. The difference is that to run Menzies’ version he doesn’t need the No overdetermination idea. Distinctness and a reformulated version of the Exclusion principle are doing the job for him. As my main interest
is in the evaluation of Menzies’ approach, the discussion of other solutions to the exclusion problem has to be done on another occasion.
The option Menzies took is to launch an attack on a hidden premise that is presupposed by many of the premises in Kim’s exclusion argument. The presupposition that went unnoticed for some time concerns the concept of causation the argument relies on. A bunch of authors formulated similar objections finding this niche in the course of the last decade (Menzies 2008, 2013; Menzies and List 2009, 2010; Raatikainen 2010; Woodward 2008, 2015)33. The common point of these arguments is this: the notion of a ‘sufficient cause’
Kim utilized in his argument is defective, proper analyses shows that it is so weak that it fails on some basic tests for causal relations. If it does, then it is advisable to replace it with a notion that shows better performance on the tests mentioned and see what comes out of that experiment. Section 2.5 takes up the job of walking the reader through different interpretations of Kim’s concept of causation and the possible arguments against those. In that section motivation is provided for replacing Kim’s notion with a broadly counterfactual notion of causation. Chapter 4 turns to the thorough investigation of the approach favoured by Menzies according to which the exclusion principle should be based on a slightly modified version of the classical counterfactual analyses according to which causes are proportionate to their effects. As we will see the exclusion argument propped up with proportionate causation delivers the verdict that mental and other higher-level causes can exclude their realizers from causal efficacy even if it can happen the other way around as well.
33 Woodwards approch is more substantially different from the others, because he choose a compatibilist
approach according to which, both realizer and realized properties are causes of the same outcome even though these causes are not equally informative or effective in changing the outcome. So, he rejects the exclusion worry as such.
The causal closure of the physical
There are two important issues to clarify when it comes to the principle of physical closure. First, one should find a formulation of closure that is satisfactory in the sense that it allows physical closure without excluding the existence of non-physical causes by stipulation. As Lowe (2000) has shown, it is a tough challenge to find a solution that is not too weak and not too strong to do this job, but without that the exclusion principle wouldn’t be useful as a premise in the exclusion argument. The main rule is that one shouldn’t exclude mental causes in a question-begging manner.
The second issue to tackle concerns the empirical backing one can gather for the closure principle. From around the middle of the 20th century physicalism became a standard
view in philosophy. This change was driven by modern physical science, its advancements and discoveries, so the plausibility of this view can only be appraised by a more careful examination of the evidence provided by science. Whatever formulation one settles with, causal closure is an empirical premise the faith in which must be proportionate to the empirical support one can gather for or against it.