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The Causal Exclusion Problem


Dwayne Moore

In The Causal Exclusion Problem, the popular strategy of abandoning any one of the principles constituting the causal exclusion problem is considered, but ultimately rejected. The metaphysical foundations undergirding the causal exclusion problem are then explored, revealing that the causal exclusion problem cannot be dislodged by undermining its metaphysical foundations – as some are in the habit of doing. Finally, the significant difficulties associated with the bevy of contemporary nonreductive solutions, from supervenience to emergentism, are expanded upon. While conducting this survey of contemporary options, however, two novel approaches are introduced, both of which may resolve the causal exclusion problem from within a nonreductive physicalist paradigm.
The Causal Exclusion Problem, which relentlessly motivates the vexing causal exclusion problem and exhaustively surveys its metaphysical assumptions and contemporary responses, is ideal for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course in the philosophy of mind.
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Chapter Two: The Principle of Physical Causal Completeness

← 27 | 28 → ← 28 | 29 → CHAPTER TWO


Jennie eats a peach because she wants one. This much was established in the last chapter. But, plausibly, Jennie also eats a peach because the muscles in her arms contracted, which were, roughly, caused by the innervations of muscle fibres, which were in turn caused the release of neurotransmitters from the motor neurons at the neuromuscular junction, which were caused by the firing of motor neurons through the central nervous system, which were caused by an influx of sodium ions into the motor neurons, and so on and so forth. By this I mean that the occurrence of Jennie’s eating a peach can be traced back through a chain of physical causes leading back to, and indeed, before, the occurrence of the Jennie’s desire for a peach. This is the principle of physical causal completeness, according to which all (physical) effects have (only) sufficient physical causes or determinants.

Obviously, this articulation of the principle of physical causal completeness, like the principle of mental causation, is heavily nuanced. This is because, as outlined in Section 2.1, there are several relevant versions of the principle of physical causal completeness. After outlining these distinctions (§1), I provide several arguments in favour of the principle of physical causal completeness (§2), and consider leading arguments against the principle of physical causal completeness (§3).

As defined above, the principle of physical causal completeness states that all (physical) effects have (only) sufficient physical causes or determinants. This generic definition is significantly nuanced. In...

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