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Strengthening the exclusion argument

  • Matthew RellihanEmail author


As conceived by Kim, the causal exclusion argument targets all forms of nonreductive physicalism equally, but by restricting its focus to functionalist varieties of nonreductivism, I am able to develop a version of the argument that has a number of virtues lacking in the original. First, the revised argument has no need for Kim’s causal exclusion principle, which many find dubious if not simply false. Second, the revised argument can be adapted to either a production-based conception of causation, as Kim himself favors, or to any of a number of dependence-based conceptions, like the ones favored by many of Kim’s critics. And, finally, the revised argument does not have the objectionable consequence that all so-called higher-level properties are epiphenomenal, for it does not generalize in the way that Kim’s original version of the argument arguably does. Nor does it concede much to narrow the scope of the argument in the way proposed. Those who adopt nonreductive theories of mind do so, by and large, on the strength of functionalist arguments for the multiple realizability of mental states. If functionalism entails that mental properties are epiphenomenal, this thus deals a critical, if not quite fatal, blow to nonreductivism.


Causal exclusion Functionalism Mental causation Physicalism Reductionism 



Thanks to the audience of the 2018 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association at the University of Oxford, and thanks again for the many helpful comments provided by the reviewers for this journal.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySeattle UniversitySeattleUSA

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