The physical realm is causally closed, according to physicalists like me. But why is it causally closed, what metaphysically explains causal closure? I argue that reductive physicalists are committed to one explanation of causal closure to the exclusion of any independent explanation, and that as a result, they must give up on using a causal argument to attack mind–body dualism. Reductive physicalists should view dualism in much the way that we view the hypothesis that unicorns exist, or that the Kansas City Royals won the 2003 World Series: false, but not objectionable in any distinctively causal way. My argument turns on connections between explanation, counterfactuals, and inductive confirmation.
KeywordsPhysicalism Causation Counterfactuals Induction Explanation Causal closure
Thanks to William Beardsley, Sara Bernstein, Douglas Cannon, Carrie Figdor, Jaegwon Kim, Dan Korman, Geoffrey Lee, Aidan McGlynn, Paul Loeb, Gualtiero Piccinini, Ian Schnee, David Sosa, Ariela Tubert, Michael Tye, and Gene Witmer. Special thanks to Andrew Melnyk, and to John Heil, who oversaw the 2009 NEH Summer Seminar on Mind and Metaphysics, where an early version of the paper was presented.
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