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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 16, Issue 1, Enero 2001

Terry Horgan
Pages 95-115

Causal Compatibilism and the Exclusion Problem

Causal compatibilism claims that even though physics is causally closed, and even though mental properties are multiply realizable and are not identical to physical causal properties, mental properties are causal properties nonetheless. This position asserts that there is genuine causation at multiple descriptive/ontological levels; physics-level causal claims are not really incompatible with mentalistic causal claims. I articulate and defend a version of causal compatibilism that incorporates three key contentions. First, causation crucially involves robust patterns of counterfactual dependence among properties. Second, often several distinct such patterns, all subsuming a single phenomenon, exist at different descriptive/ontological levels (e.g., microphysical, neurobiological, macrobiological, and psychological). Third, the concept of causation is governed by an implicit contextual parameter that normally determines a specific descriptive/ontological level as the contextually relevant level, for the context-sensitive semantic evaluation of causal statements.