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EmergenceContemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science$
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Mark A. Bedau and Paul Humphreys

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026215

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026215.001.0001

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How Properties Emerge

How Properties Emerge

(p.111) 6 How Properties Emerge

Paul Humphreys

The MIT Press

This chapter explores an obscure argument of contemporary philosophy believed to bring about serious problems for mental causation. The “exclusion argument,” as it is commonly referred to, presents devastating consequences for any position that considers mental properties to be real, including those nonreductive views which suppose mental properties to supervene upon physical properties. Another argument by Jaegwon Kim, referred to as the “downwards causation argument,” renders nonreductive physicalism untenable if presented in conjunction with the exclusion argument, for it offers the conclusion that nonreductive physicalism is committed to the view that some mental properties must cause physical properties. Both arguments share a commitment to a dualist ontology and the idea that supervenience is the right way to represent the relation between the lower and higher levels of the world’s ontology. The survival of mental properties requires that both arguments be discarded.

Keywords:   exclusion argument, downwards causation argument, Jaegwon Kim, contemporary philosophy, nonreductive physicalism, dualist ontology, supervenience

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