, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 435–453 | Cite as

Against Disanalogy-Style Responses to the Exclusion Problem

  • Kevin MorrisEmail author


This paper focuses on an influential line of response to the exclusion problem for nonreductive physicalism, one defended with the most subtlety by Karen Bennett. According to this line of thought, a successful nonreductive response to the exclusion problem, a response that allows one to maintain each of the core components of nonreductive physicalism, may consist in showing that the manner in which the effects of mental causes also have distinct and sufficient physical causes is disanalogous to other types of cases in which an effect may have distinct sufficient causes. After laying out the formulation of the exclusion problem that Bennett endorses, along with her response to the problem, I offer an initial critique of this response insofar as it is couched in terms of her preferred formulation. I then present a general critique of disanalogy-style responses to the exclusion problem. I argue that extant implementations of this strategy are at best underdeveloped, and suggest that lack of clarity in the use of “overdetermination” may function to mask the shortcomings of this strategy. While others have questioned the details of such responses, the worries that I raise concern the very logic of the exclusion problem and how such responses fit into this logic.


Exclusion problem Mental causation Nonreductive physicalism 



I would like to thank John Heil, Chris Richards, Kevin Sharpe, and Chiwook Won for helpful comments on related work, and Alex Gelb for assistance in preparing the manuscript. I would also like to thank audiences at 2014 meetings of the Alabama Philosophical Society, the Central States Philosophy Association, and the Southwestern Philosophical Society, as well as participants in John Heil’s 2013 NEH Metaphysics and Mind seminar, for helpful discussion and criticism. Work on this paper was supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, although the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Endowment.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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