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Nonreductive physicalism and the limits of the exclusion principle

List, Christian and Menzies, Peter (2009) Nonreductive physicalism and the limits of the exclusion principle. Journal of Philosophy, CVI (9). pp. 475-502. ISSN 0022-362x

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It is often argued that higher-level special-science properties cannot be causally efficacious since the lower-level physical properties on which they supervene are doing all the causal work. This claim is usually derived from an exclusion principle stating that if a higher-level property F supervenes on a physical property F* that is causally sufficient for a property G, then F cannot cause G. We employ an account of causation as difference-making to show that the truth or falsity of this principle is a contingent matter and derive necessary and sufficient conditions under which a version of it holds. We argue that one important instance of the principle, far from undermining non-reductive physicalism, actually supports the causal autonomy of certain higher-level properties.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2009 Journal of Philosophy. This article is made available for personal use only, with special permission from the Journal of Philosophy. Publishers and others wishing to use this article for commercial or educational purposes should contact
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Research centres and groups > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS)
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2011 14:09

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