The disturbing matter of downward causation : A study of the exclusion argument and its causal-explanatory presuppositions
Appears in the following Collection
- Filosofi 
AbstractThe “Exclusion Argument” of J. Kim and others motivates mind-body reductionism by arguing that antireductionism leads to epiphenomenalism about the mental, which conflicts with standard causal views of actions.
Some critics think the argument’s assumptions about causation and explanation lack support in scientific practice. In four papers this dissertation uses considerations of neuroscience to address such objections.
(1) Contra B. Loewer it argues that while causal exclusion does presuppose a “productive” view of causation, this view is scientifically respectable, because it is part of mechanistic explanations in neuroscience.
(2) Contra T. Burge’s explanatory pluralism it shows that the differences between psychological and neuroscientific explanations cannot easily be used to argue against exclusion, because neuroscience combines an interest in mechanisms with one in cognition/behavior.
(3) Contra EJ. Lowe, who contends that any empirically plausible version of “causal closure” will render the Exclusion Argument question-begging, neuroscience can be used to rule out Lowe’s own dualism.
(4) S. Sturgeon argues that the Exclusion Argument equivocates between two senses of “physical” and that removing the equivocation renders causal closure empirically unsupported. This problem can be bypassed by formulating an alternative neurobiological “quasi-closure”.
However, in spite of these problems with the objections, the Exclusion Argument fails to clearly motivate reductionism.