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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 Nine: Mereological Emergentism

← 165 | 166 →← 166 | 167 →CHAPTER NINE


While the Joint Causation Solution to the causal exclusion problem was outlined in Chapter Five, this chapter is devoted to an alternative nonreductive response to the causal exclusion problem, called the Mereological Emergentist Solution. According to mereological emergentism, emergent properties are identical to the substantial unity of realized functional properties. Emergent structures are efficacious by determining that lower-level parts realize functional properties of systems, where these lower-level parts, in isolation, lack these functional properties and the causal powers associated therewith.

This concluding chapter proceeds as follows. First, I establish the historical credentials of mereological emergentism by outlining C. Lloyd Morgan’s mereological emergentism (§1). Then I demonstrate how mereological emergentism avoids the difficulties plaguing supervenient emergentism (§2). For the next three sections I consider various objections to mereological emergentism.

In Section 8.3, a version of emergentism was presented, which can be called supervenient emergentism, and which states that emergent properties are supervenient properties that arise out of, or supervene upon, the substantial unity. Supervenient emergentism succumbed to the causal exclusion problem in two ways: (1) since the substantial unity (p*) is the sufficient determinant of the emergent property m*, m is thereby excluded as a cause of m*; (2) since m’s base p is a sufficient cause of p*, m is excluded as a cause of p*.

Many emergentists, however, argue that emergent properties are not supervenient properties (Silberstein and McGeever, 1999; Humphreys, 1997; Lowe, 1996). In fact, probably, both C. Lloyd Morgan and Samuel...

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