Interventionism and the exclusion problem

Dissertation, University of Warwick (2013)
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Jaegwon Kim (1998a, 2005) claims that his exclusion problem follows a priori for the non-reductive physicalist given her commitment to five apparently inconsistent theses: mental causation, non-identity, supervenience, causal closure and non-overdetermination. For Kim, the combination of these theses entails that mental properties are a priori excluded as causes, forcing the non-reductive physicalist to accept either epiphenomenalism, or some form of reduction. In this thesis, I argue that Kim’s exclusion problem depends on a particular conception of causation, namely sufficient production, and that when causation is understood in interventionist terms, the non-reductive physicalist can avoid the exclusion problem. I argue that Woodward’s (2003, 2008a, 2011a) version of interventionism not only provides an account of mental causation that avoids the exclusion problem, but argue that it also upholds all of the minimal commitments of non-reductive physicalism, thereby providing a successful non-reductive physicalist solution to the exclusion problem. In Chapter 2, I argue that all five theses are minimal commitments of non-reductive physicalism that cannot be rejected in order to avoid the exclusion problem. Chapter 3 identifies the assumptions that I take to underlie the exclusion problem. Chapter 4 introduces and outlines the central features of Woodward’s (2003) interventionism and Chapter 5 argues that Woodward’s interventionist account of mental causation provides a solution to the exclusion problem. I examine two alternative interventionist accounts of mental causation[1] that fail to provide satisfactory solutions to the exclusion problem and conclude that Woodward’s account therefore provides the only satisfactory account of mental causation and solution to the exclusion problem. Chapter 6 addresses some challenges proposed by Michael Baumgartner (2009, 2010) and argues that the interventionist is able to defend her position against these objections and uphold the interventionist solution to the exclusion problem outlined in this thesis. [1. Proposed by List and Menzies (2009) and Campbell (2007, 2008a, 2008b, 2010).]

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Yasmin Bassi
University of Warwick


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