An Examination of the Exclusion Argument

In the following essay, I will discuss the Exclusion Argument, particularly its parts and efficacy. In the first two paragraphs, I will present and explain the argument. I will then evaluate the Exclusion Argument and its ability to support physicalism. Finally, I will present the hindrances that the argument places on free will.

The Exclusion Argument relies on some key concepts for its function. The first of these is downward causation, which claims that many mental events cause physical events (Greenberg 2019, 3).

For instance, the decision to drink a soda causes a person to retrieve one from the fridge. The second important concept is that of causal closure. This idea postulates that all physical events are brought about by sequences of prior physical events. These series of events are said to require the full capacity for bringing about resultant events (Papineau 2009, 54-55). The action of retrieving a soda is initiated by signals of thirst in the brain. The brain transmits impulses throughout the body, muscle fibers resultantly fire, and the soda is retrieved.

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This sequence of events is sufficient in causing the soda to be obtained.

The third important feature of the Exclusion Argument is exclusion. Here it is asserted that any physical event is caused by a single sequence of events. (Greenberg 2019, 3). Thus, it is impossible that the mental and physical events discussed above both contributed to acquiring the soda. However, the two are individually capable of causing the acquisition of the soda. Consequently, mental and physical events which can result in equivalent situations are the same.

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Exclusion results in the classification of physical and mental events as being of the same kind. Therefore, Dualism is rejected.

I agree with the Exclusion Argument—both its premises and concluding statements. However, some may take issue with its concepts, particularly causal closure. One might argue that it is impossible to know that the mind is part of the physical world. It is impossible to test every event and determine its nature. Thus, one may argue that the claim of causal closure is misleading, as it cannot be unquestionably proven. This objection is trivial, as attempting to test every physical event would be impractical. Furthermore, claims are taken to be general truths, if the majority of a particular event kind presents uniformly. For example, the mating behavior of geese is accepted based on the observation of many geese. It is unnecessary to study every goose to make claims about the species’ general mating behavior. General truths are factually supported. Thus, the objection does not create relevant problems for causal closure; the Exclusion Argument remains successful.

The Exclusion Argument greatly supports Physicalism. Consequently, the extent of free will must be reexamined. Incompatibilism asserts that a decision that is free has no cause. Inversely, a decision that has a cause is not free. Physicalism states that all events have physical causes. As the roots of all actions are physical events or sequences, there is no possibility for decision-making. Therefore, no decisions are free; free will does not exist.

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An Examination of the Exclusion Argument. (2021, Dec 26). Retrieved from

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