How To Get Rid of Closure

Mariusz Grygianiec

About author

Mariusz Grygianiec, PhD (dr hab.)
Institut für Philosophie, Universität Augsburg
Universitätsstraße 10
86135 Augsburg


Sophie Gibb has recently invented a very interesting strategy against Kim’s causal exclusion argument. This strategy adopts the powers theory of causation and an interpretation of mental causation in terms of double prevention. Gibb’s strategy results both in invalidating the principle of the causal closure of the physical domain in most of its formulations and in disarming the argument in question. In my paper, I present a general procedure for the opponents of reductive physicalism which enables them to grapple successfully with the mentioned principle. I also argue that although it could be possible to adopt Gibb’s strategy as a part of this procedure, there is a simpler one to obtain a similar outcome. This strategy is mainly based on Uwe Meixner’s causal argument against physicalism and it leads to the conclusion that if one accepts the principle of sufficient cause (i.e. the principle of sufficient reason in its causal variant), then one should reject the principle of causal closure in the light of some empirical data. This alternative proposal is more attractive than Gibb’s solution, since it is independent of any conception of causation, does not make any distinction between causal relevance and causal efficacy, and does not refer to the notion of double prevention.

Full Text:



  1. E. Averill, B. F. Keating, “Does Interactionism Violate a Law of Classical Physics?,” Mind, New Series (90/357) 1981, p. 102–107.
  2. L.R. Baker, Metaphysics and Mental Causation, [in:] Mental Causation, J. Heil, A. Mele (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 1993, p. 75–96.
  3. R.C. Bishop, “The Hidden Premise in the Causal Argument for Physicalism,” Analysis (66) 2006, p. 44–52.
  4. L. BonJour, Against Materialism, [in:] The Waning of Materialism, R.C. Koons, G. Bealer (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010, p. 3–23.
  5. R. Collins, The Energy of the Soul, [in:] The Soul Hypothesis, M. Baker, S. Goetz (eds.), Continuum, London 2011, p. 123–133.
  6. K. Davies, “Powers, Double Prevention and Mental Causation,” Metaphysica (17/1) 2016, p. 37–42.
  7. T. Crane, “The Mental Causation Debate,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (69) 1995, p. 211–253.
  8. T. Crane, Elements of Mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2001.
  9. M. Di Francesco, A. Tomasetta, “The End of the World? Mental Causation, Explanation and Metaphysics,” Humana.Mente Journal of Phi-losophical Studies (29) 2015, p. 167–190.
  10. C. Gabbani, “The Causal Closure of What? An Epistemological Critique of the Principle of Causal Closure,” Philosophical Inquiries (1) 2013, p. 145–174.
  11. Hasker [2009]; BonJour [2010] p. 5–6; Jones [2008]; Gabbani [2013]; Hüttemann [2013]; Garcia [2014]; Tiehen [2015].
  12. R. Garcia, “Closing in on Causal Closure,” Journal of Consciousness Studies (21) 2014, p. 96–109.
  13. S.C. Gibb, “Closure Principles and the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Momentum,” Dialectica (64/3) 2010, p. 363–384.
  14. S.C. Gibb, Mental Causation and Double Prevention, [in:] Mental Causation and Ontology, S.C. Gibb, E.J. Lowe, R.D. Ingthorsson (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013, p. 193–214.
  15. S.C. Gibb, “The Causal Closure Principle,” The Philosophical Quarterly (65) 2015, p. 626–647.
  16. S.C. Gibb, “Defending Dualism,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (115) 2015, p. 131–146.
  17. S.C. Gibb, “Physical Determinability,” Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophi-cal Studies (29) 2015, p. 69–90.
  18. B.P. Göcke, “Physicalism Quaerens Intellectum,” The Philosophical Forum (49/4) 2008, p. 463–468.
  19. B.P. Göcke, After Physicalism, [in:] After Physicalism, B.P. Göcke (ed.), Uni-versity of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame 2012, p. 1–24.
  20. M. Grygianiec, “Steps Towards Anti-Physicalism,” Problemos (89) 2016, p. 7–20.
  21. W. Hasker, How Not to Be a Reductivist, [in:] Irreducibly Conscious: Selected Papers on Consciousness, A. Battyany, A. Elitzur (eds.), Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2009, p. 73–93.
  22. J. Heil, From an Ontological Point of View, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2003.
  23. A. Hüttemann, Einige Bemerkungen zum Prinzip der kausalen Abge-schlossenheit des Physischen, [in:] Die Suche nach dem Geist, J. Michel, G. Münster (eds.), Mentis, Münster 2013, p. 35–53.
  24. K. Jones, “The Causal Closure of Physics: An Explanation and Critique”, World Futures (64/3) 2008, p. 179–186.
  25. J. Kim, Supervenience and Mind: Selected Philosophical Essays, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993.
  26. J. Kim, Mind in a Physical World, MIT Press, Cambridge 1998.
  27. J. Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, Princeton University Press, Princeton 2005.
  28. J. Kim, Mental Causation, [in:] The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind, B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, S. Walter (eds.), Clarendon Press, Oxford 2009, p. 29–52.
  29. J. Kim, Philosophy of Mind, Westview Press, Boulder 2010.
  30. R. Larmer, “Mind-Body Interactionism and the Conservation of Energy”, International Philosophical Quarterly (26) 1986, p. 277–285.
  31. E.J. Lowe, “Causal Closure Principles and Emergentism,” Philosophy (75) 2000, p. 571–586.
  32. E.J. Lowe, A Defence of Non-Cartesian Substance Dualism, [in:] Psycho-Physical Dualism Today. An Interdisciplinary Approach, A. Antonietti, A. Corradini, E.J. Lowe (eds.), Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefied, Lanham 2008, p. 167–183.
  33. E.J. Lowe, Substance Causation, Powers, and Human Agency, [in:] Mental Cau-sation and Ontology, S.C. Gibb, E.J. Lowe, R.D. Ingthorsson (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013, p. 153–172.
  34. C.B. Martin, The Mind in Nature, Oxford University Press, New York 2008.
  35. U. Meixner, The Two Sides of Being. A Reassessment of Psycho-Physical Dualism, Mentis, Paderborn 2004.
  36. U. Meixner, “Three Indications for the Existence of God in Causal Metaphysics,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (66) 2009, p. 33–46.
  37. U. Meixner, Against Physicalism, [in:] Contemporary Dualism. A Defense, A. Lavazza, H. Robinson (eds.), Routledge, London 2014, p. 17–34.
  38. E. Mills, “Interactionism and Overdetermination,” American Philosophical Quarterly (33) 1996, p. 105–117.
  39. B. Montero, Varieties of Causal Closure, [in:] Physicalism and Mental Causation, S. Walter, H.-D. Heckmann (eds.), Imprint Academic, Exeter 2003, p. 173–187.
  40. B. Montero, “What Does the Conservation of Energy Have to Do with Physicalism?”, Dialectica (60) 2006, p. 383–396.
  41. D. Papineau, Philosophical Naturalism, Blackwell, Oxford 1993.
  42. D. Papineau, “Mind the Gap,” Philosophical Perspectives (32) 1998, p. 373–388.
  43. D. Papineau, The Rise of Physicalism, [in:] The Proper Ambition of Science, M. W. F. Stone, J. Wolff (eds.), Routledge, New York 2000, p. 174–208.
  44. D. Papineau, Thinking About Consciousness, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2002.
  45. D. Papineau, The Causal Closure of the Physical and Naturalism, [in:] The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind, B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, S. Walter (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009, p. 53–65.
  46. D. Robb, Could Mental Causation Be Invisible?, [in:] The Metaphysics of E.J. Lowe, A. Carruth, S. C. Gibb, J. Heil (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford [forth-coming].
  47. P. Smith, O. Jones, The Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1986.
  48. D. Spurrett, D. Papineau, “A Note on the Completeness of ‘Physics’,” Analysis (59) 1999, p. 25–29.
  49. H.P. Stapp, Mental Causation [unpublished paper], p. 1–30.
  50. H.P. Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg 2009.
  51. H.P. Stapp, Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer, Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg 2011.
  52. J. Tiehen, “Explaining Causal Closure,” Philosophical Studies (172) 2015, p. 2405–2425.
  53. A. Vicente, “On the Causal Completeness of Physics,” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science (20) 2006, p. 149–171.
  54. A. Vicente, “Current Physics and ‘the Physical’”, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (62) 2011, p. 393–416.
  55. D. von Wachter, Why the Argument from Causal Closure against the Existence of Immaterial Things is Bad, [in:] Science – A Challenge to Philosophy?, H.J. Koskinen, R. Vilkko and S. Pihlström (eds.), Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Mein 2006, p. 113–124.
  56. D. Yates, “Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics,” Philosophical Quarterly (59) 2009, p. 110–131.


Article links:

Default URL:
English abstract URL:


All works are licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License.