Antireductionist Interventionism

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Kim’s causal exclusion argument purports to demonstrate that the non-reductive physicalist must treat mental properties (and macro-level properties in general) as causally inert. A number of authors have attempted to resist Kim’s conclusion by utilizing the conceptual resources of Woodward’s (2005) interventionist conception of causation. The viability of these responses has been challenged by Gebharter (2017a), who argues that the causal exclusion argument is vindicated by the theory of causal Bayesian networks (CBNs). Since the interventionist conception of causation relies crucially on CBNs for its foundations, Gebharter’s argument appears to cast significant doubt on interventionism’s antireductionist credentials. In the present article, we both (1) demonstrate that Gebharter’s CBN-theoretic formulation of the exclusion argument relies on some unmotivated and philosophically significant assumptions (especially regarding the relationship between CBNs and the metaphysics of causal relevance), and (2) use Bayesian networks to develop a general theory of causal inference for multi-level systems that can serve as the foundation for an antireductionist interventionist account of causation.
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First archival date: 2020-02-07
Latest version: 2 (2020-02-07)
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