Dualism and Exclusion

Erkenntnis 86 (3):543-552 (2021)
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Abstract

Many philosophers argue that exclusion arguments cannot exclude non-reductionist physicalist mental properties from being causes without excluding properties that are patently causal as well. List and Stoljar (2017) recently argued that a similar response to exclusion arguments is also available to dualists, thereby challenging the predominant view that exclusion arguments undermine dualist theories of mind. In particular, List and Stoljar maintain that exclusion arguments against dualism require a premise that states that, if a property is metaphysically distinct from the sufficient cause of an effect, this property cannot be a cause of that effect. I argue that this premise is indeed likely to exclude patently causal properties, but that exclusion arguments against dualism do not require this premise. The relation that enables metaphysically distinct properties to cause the same effect in the relevant way turns out to be tighter than the relation typically posited between dualist conscious properties and their underlying physical properties. It is therefore still plausible that the latter causally exclude the former and that compelling exclusion arguments against dualism can be formulated by using a weaker exclusion premise. I conclude by proposing such a formulation.

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Bram Vaassen
UmeƄ University

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