Lessons from Causal Exclusion


  •  I owe a large intellectual debt to Elliott Sober for some of the main arguments in this paper. See our Shapiro and Sober (2007) for further discussion and application of these arguments. Thanks also to Tom Polger and an anonymous referee for this journal, and to Jaegwon Kim for comments at the special APA session at which an early version of this was presented in his honor (April 2006).


Jaegwon Kim’s causal exclusion argument has rarely been evaluated from an empirical perspective. This is puzzling because its conclusion seems to be making a testable claim about the world: supervenient properties are causally inefficacious. An empirical perspective, however, reveals Kim’s argument to rest on a mistaken conception about how to test whether a property is causally efficacious. Moreover, the empirical perspective makes visible a metaphysical bias that Kim brings to his argument that involves a principle of non-inclusion.