, Volume 195, Issue 8, pp 3723–3733 | Cite as

Grounding, mental causation, and overdetermination

  • Michael J. ClarkEmail author
  • Nathan Wildman


Recently, Kroedel and Schulz have argued that the exclusion problem—which states that certain forms of non-reductive physicalism about the mental are committed to systematic and objectionable causal overdetermination—can be solved by appealing to grounding. Specifically, they defend a principle that links the causal relations of grounded mental events to those of grounding physical events, arguing that this renders mental–physical causal overdetermination unproblematic. Here, we contest Kroedel and Schulz’s result. We argue that their causal-grounding principle is undermotivated, if not outright false. In particular, we contend that the principle has plausible counterexamples, resulting from the fact that some mental states are not fully grounded by goings on ‘in our heads’ but also require external factors to be included in their full grounds. We draw the sceptical conclusion that it remains unclear whether non-reductive physicalists can plausibly respond to the exclusion argument by appealing to considerations of grounding.


Grounding Mental causation Overdetermination Causal exclusion 



This paper has benefitted from discussion with audiences at the Eidos seminar in Geneva and Hamburg’s Forschungskolloquium. We are especially grateful to Delia Belleri, Amanda Cawston, Donnchadh O’Connaill, Thomas Kroedel, Giovanni Merlo, and Moritz Schulz for extensive discussion and feedback. This paper was written partially under the auspices of the Sinergia project Grounding: Metaphysics, Science, and Logic, which is funded by the Swiss National Sciences Foundation; we gratefully acknowledge their support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.TiLPSUniversity of TilburgTilburgThe Netherlands

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