“Exclusion endures: How compatibilism allows dualists to bypass the causal closure argument”
By Chris Brown (CUNY Graduate Center, Philosophy)
Date: Tuesday 21st May, 2018
Abstract: Jaegwon Kim maintains that his ‘exclusion argument’ forces us to accept reductive physicalism, which identifies mental and other high-level properties of the world with lower-level properties, over nonreductive physicalism, which avoids such identifications. According to Kim, the exclusion argument shows that any nonreductive view leads to either epiphenomenalism or unacceptable overdetermination of physical effects by physical causes. However, a popular nonreductive physicalist approach called ‘compatibilism’ aims to show that physicalism need not collapse high-level properties into lower-level physical. Compatibilism attempts to block the exclusion argument by attending to the tight modal relationship between higher and lower properties required by nonreductive physicalism. Unfortunately, a similarly tight modal relationship will be embraced by any dualists who hold that natural laws are metaphysically necessary. Despite its increasingly widespread popularity among nonreductive physicalists, it thus seems that the compatibilist’s proposed solution cannot be upheld without removing the barriers to dualists of this sort.
About the speaker: Chris Brown is a PhD student in philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. He works primarily in philosophy of mind, metaphysics and Nietzsche, with an emphasis on the mind-body problem, physicalism, and Nietzschean psychology and value theory. He has publications in Analysis, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Erkenntnis and Topoi.