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The Correlation Argument for Reductionism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Reductionists say things like all mental properties are physical properties; all normative properties are natural properties. I argue that the only way to resist reductionism is to deny that causation is difference making (thus making the epistemology of causation a mystery) or to deny that properties are individuated by their causal powers (thus making properties a mystery); that is to say, unless one is happy to deny supervenience or to trivialize the debate over reductionism. To show this, I argue that if properties are individuated by their causal powers, then, surprisingly, properties are individuated by necessary coexemplification.

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Thank you Adrian Boutel, Christopher Cowie, Hugh Mellor, and Mark Pindar for your comments on an ancestor of this manuscript; and also to several anonymous referees for your generous and constructive suggestions. This work has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement 715530).


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