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  • 1.
    Abreu Zavaleta, Martin
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Disagreement Lost2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 199, no 1-2, p. 1899-1932Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper develops a puzzle about non-merely-verbal disputes. At first sight, it would seem that a dispute over the truth of an utterance is not merely verbal only if there is a proposition that the parties to the dispute take the utterance under dispute to express, which one of the parties accepts and the other rejects. Yet, as I argue, it is extremely rare for ordinary disputes over an utterance’s truth to satisfy this condition, in which case non-merely verbal disputes are extremely rare. After examining various responses to the puzzle, I outline a solution using the framework of truthmaker semantics.

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  • 2.
    Bergman, Karl Gustav
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Box 627, Uppsala, Sweden; Universitat de Barcelona, Montalegre 6, Barcelona, Spain.
    Franzén, Nils
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The force of fictional discourse2022In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 200, no 6, article id 474Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Consider the opening sentence of Tolkien's The Hobbit: (1) In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. By writing this sentence, Tolkien is making a fictional statement. There are two influential views of the nature of such statements. On the pretense view, fictional discourse amounts to pretend assertions. Since the author is not really asserting, but merely pretending, a statement such as Tolkien's is devoid of illocutionary force altogether. By contrast, on the alternative make-believe view, fictional discourse prescribes that the reader make-believe the content of the statement. In this paper, we argue that neither of these views is satisfactory. They both fail to distinguish the linguistic act of creating the fiction, for instance Tolkien writing the sentence above, from the linguistic act of reciting it, such as reading The Hobbit out loud for your children. As an alternative to these views, we propose that the essential feature of the author's speech act is its productive character, that it makes some state of affairs obtain in the fiction. Tolkien's statement, we argue, has the illocutionary force of a declaration.

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  • 3.
    Coelho Mollo, Dimitri
    Department of Philosophy, King’s College, London, UK; Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
    Functional individuation, mechanistic implementation: the proper way of seeing the mechanistic view of concrete computation2017In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 195, no 8, p. 3477-3497Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    I examine a major objection to the mechanistic view of concrete computation, stemming from an apparent tension between the abstract nature of computational explanation and the tenets of the mechanistic framework: while computational explanation is medium-independent, the mechanistic framework insists on the importance of providing some degree of structural detail about the systems target of the explanation. I show that a common reply to the objection, i.e. that mechanistic explanation of computational systems involves only weak structural constraints, is not enough to save the standard mechanistic view of computation—it trivialises the appeal to mechanism, and thus makes the account collapse into a purely functional view. I claim, however, that the objection can be put to rest once the account is appropriately amended: computational individuation is indeed functional, while mechanistic explanation plays a role in accounting for computational implementation. Since individuation and implementation are crucial elements in a satisfying account of computation in physical systems, mechanism keeps its central importance in the theory of concrete computation. Finally, I argue that my version of the mechanistic view helps to provide a convincing reply to a powerful objection against non-semantic theories of concrete computation: the argument from the multiplicity of computations.

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  • 4.
    Coelho Mollo, Dimitri
    Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Exzellenzcluster Science of Intelligence & Berlin School of Mind and Brain & Institut für Philosophie, Berlin, Germany.
    Why go for a computation-based approach to cognitive representation2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 199, no 3-4, p. 6875-6895Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    An influential view in (philosophy of) cognitive science is that computation in cognitive systems is semantic, conceptually depending on representation: to compute is to manipulate representations. I argue that accepting the non-semantic teleomechanistic view of computation lays the ground for a promising alternative strategy, in which computation helps to explain and naturalise representation, rather than the other way around. I show that this computation-based approach to representation presents six decisive advantages over the semantic view. I claim that it can improve the two most influential current theories of representation, teleosemantics and structural representation, by providing them with precious tools to tackle some of their main shortcomings. In addition, the computation-based approach opens up interesting new theoretical paths for the project of naturalising representation, in which teleology plays a role in individuating computations, but not representations.

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  • 5.
    Edin, Benoni
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Physiology.
    Assigning biological functions: Making sense of causal chains2008In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 161, no 2, p. 203-218Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Huvenes, Torfinn Thomesen
    et al.
    Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    Dimmock, Paul
    Knowledge, Conservativism, and Pragmatics2014In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 191, no 14, p. 3239-3269Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The apparent contextual variability exhibited by ‘knows’ and its cognates—brought to attention in examples like Keith DeRose’s Bank Case—poses familiarproblems for conservative forms of invariantism about ‘knows’. The paper examinesand criticises a popular response to those problems, one that involves appeal to so-called ‘pragmatic’ features of language. It is first argued, contrary to what seemsto have been generally assumed, that any pragmatic defence faces serious problemswith regard to our judgments about retraction. Second, the familiar objection that thepragmatic effects at issue do not seem to be cancellable is considered. Advocates of thepragmatic defence have suggested that cancellability concerns can be dealt with fairlyreadily. It is shown both that their recent attempts to respond to those concerns, andsome other possible attempts, are unsuccessful. Finally, it is argued that the popularrelevance-based accounts, found in the work of Jessica Brown, Alan Hazlett, andPatrick Rysiew, fail to provide a satisfactory explanation of our judgments.

  • 7.
    Jaag, Siegfried
    et al.
    Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany.
    Loew, Christian
    Université du Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
    Making best systems best for us2018In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 197, no 6, p. 2525-2550Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize information in a way that maximizes their cognitive usefulness for creature like us. We argue that this account motivates scientific practice because the laws’ applicability to non-actual circumstances falls right out of their cognitive usefulness.

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  • 8.
    Lindström, Sten
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Palmgren, Erik
    Department of Mathematics, Stockholm University.
    Westerståhl, Dag
    Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University.
    Introduction: The philosophy of logical consequence and inference2012In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 187, no 3, p. 817-820Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 9.
    Loew, Christian
    Philosophisches Seminar, Universität zu Köln, Germany.
    Causation, physics, and fit2017In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 194, no 6, p. 1945-1965Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Our ordinary causal concept seems to fit poorly with how our best physics describes the world. We think of causation as a time-asymmetric dependence relation between relatively local events. Yet fundamental physics describes the world in terms of dynamical laws that are, possible small exceptions aside, time symmetric and that relate global time slices. My goal in this paper is to show why we are successful at using local, time-asymmetric models in causal explanations despite this apparent mismatch with fundamental physics. In particular, I will argue that there is an important connection between time asymmetry and locality, namely: understanding the locality of our causal models is the key to understanding why the physical time asymmetries in our universe give rise to time asymmetry in causal explanation. My theory thus provides a unified account of why causation is local and time asymmetric and thereby enables a reply to Russell’s famous attack on causation.

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  • 10.
    Loew, Christian
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Hüttemann, Andreas
    Universität Köln, Köln, Germany.
    Are we free to make the laws?2022In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 200, no 1, article id 4Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Humeans about laws maintain that laws of nature are nothing over and above the complete distribution of non-modal, categorical properties in spacetime. ‘Humean compatibilists’ argue that if Humeanism about laws is true, then agents in a deterministic world can do otherwise than they are lawfully determined to do because of the distinctive nature of Humean laws. More specifically, they reject a central premise of the Consequence argument by maintaining that deterministic laws of nature are ‘up to us’. In this paper, we present a new argument for Humean compatibilism. We argue that Humeans about laws indeed have resources for defending compatibilism that non-Humeans lack (though not for the reasons typically discussed in the literature). Moreover, we show that utilizing these resources does not lead to objectionable consequences. Humeans about laws should thus embrace Humean compatibilism.

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  • 11.
    Lundgren, Björn
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Ethical machine decisions and the input-selection problem2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 199, no 3-4, p. 11423-11443Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article is about the role of factual uncertainty for moral decision-making as it concerns the ethics of machine decision-making (i.e., decisions by AI systems, such as autonomous vehicles, autonomous robots, or decision support systems). The view that is defended here is that factual uncertainties require a normative evaluation and that ethics of machine decision faces a triple-edged problem, which concerns what a machine ought to do, given its technical constraints, what decisional uncertainty is acceptable, and what trade-offs are acceptable to decrease the decisional uncertainty.

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  • 12.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Complex demonstratives, hidden arguments, and presupposition2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 198, no 4, p. 2865-2900Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Standard semantic theories predict that non-deictic readings for complex demonstratives should be much more widely available than they in fact are. If such readings are the result of a lexical ambiguity, as Kaplan (in: Almog, Perry, Wettstein (eds) Themes from Kaplan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977) and others suggest, we should expect them to be available wherever a definite description can be used. The same prediction follows from ‘hidden argument’ theories like the ones described by King (Complex Demonstratives: a Quantificational Account, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001) and Elbourne (Situations and Individuals, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2005). Wolter (That’s That; the Semantics and Pragmatics of Demonstrative Noun Phrases. Ph.D. thesis, University of California at Santa Cruz, 2006), however, has shown that complex demonstratives admit non-deictic interpretations only when a precise set of structural constrains are met. In this paper, I argue that Wolter’s results, properly understood, upend the philosophical status quo. They fatally undermine the ambiguity theory and demand a fundamental rethinking of the hidden argument approach.

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  • 13.
    Peet, Andrew
    Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology, The University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
    Epistemic injustice in utterance interpretation2017In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 194, no 9, p. 3421-3443Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There has been much recent discussion of the harmful role prejudicial stereotypes play in our communicative exchanges. For example, Fricker (Epistemic injustice: power and ethics of knowing, 2007) explores a type of injustice (testimonial injustice) which arises when the credibility judgments we make about speakers are informed by prejudicial stereotypes. This discussion has so far focused on the role stereotypes play in our epistemic assessments of communicative actions, rather than our interpretations of such actions. However, the same prejudicial stereotypes that infect credibility judgments can also infect our interpretation of the speaker, leading to uncharitable interpretation (call this ‘interpretative injustice’). This paper explores the sources of interpretative injustice, and considers some of the harms to which it gives rise. There are several harms caused by interpretative injustice. Firstly, it constitutes a form of silencing. It prevents certain groups from being able to efficiently communicate knowledge to other (perhaps more powerful) groups. Secondly it results in speakers being held epistemically responsible for propositions they never intended to communicate. And thirdly, it contributes to the illusion that prejudicial low credibility judgments are epistemically justified. I close by arguing that if Miranda Fricker’s strategy for treating testimonial injustice is implemented in absence of a treatment of interpretative injustice then we risk epistemically harming the hearer with little benefit to the speaker. Thus testimonial injustice and interpretative injustice are best treated in tandem.

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  • 14.
    Peet, Andrew
    Bradford, UK.
    Etiology, understanding, and testimonial belief2018In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 195, no 4, p. 1547-1567Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The etiology of a perceptual belief can seemingly affect its epistemic status. There are cases in which perceptual beliefs seem to be unjustified because the perceptual experiences on which they are based are caused, in part, by wishful thinking, or irrational prior beliefs. It has been argued that this is problematic for many internalist views in the epistemology of perception, especially those which postulate immediate perceptual justification. Such views are unable to account for the impact of an experience’s etiology on its justificational status (see Markie (2005, 2006, 2013), McGrath (2013), Siegel (2012, 2013a, b), and Vahid (2014)). Our understanding of what we have been told can also be affected by, for example, wishful thinking or irrational background beliefs. I argue that testimonial beliefs based on such states of understanding can thus be rendered unjustified. This is problematic not only for internalist immediate justification views of testimony, but also for some externalist views, such as the form of proper functionalism endorsed by Burge (1993), and Graham (2010). The testimonial version of the argument from etiology, unlike the perceptual variant, does not rest on the controversial hypothesis that perception is cognitively penetrable. Furthermore, there is a stronger case for the claim that testimonial justification can be undermined by etiological effects since, I argue, testimonial beliefs can be based on the background mental states which affect our understanding of what is said, and our states of understanding are rationally assessable.

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  • 15.
    Peet, Andrew
    CSMN/ConceptLab, Philosophy, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    Testimonial worth2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 198, no 3, p. 2391-2411Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper introduces and argues for the hypothesis that judgments of testimonial worth (that is, judgments of the quality of character an agent displays when testifying) are central to our practice of normatively appraising speech. It is argued that judgments of testimonial worth are central both to the judgement that an agent has lied, and to the acceptance of testimony. The hypothesis that, in lying, an agent necessarily displays poor testimonial worth, is shown to resolve a new puzzle about lying, and the recalcitrant problem raised by the existence of bald faced lies, and selfless assertions (which seem to place conflicting pressures on a theory of lying). It is then shown that the notion of testimonial worth allows us to capture the distinction between taking a speaker at their word, and treating them as a mere indicator of the truth in a way other theories (such as those which emphasize interpersonal reasons of trust) fail to do.

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  • 16.
    Peet, Andrew
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The puzzle of plausible deniability2024In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    How is it that a speaker S can at once make it obvious to an audience A that she intends to communicate some proposition p, and yet at the same time retain plausible deniability with respect to this intention? The answer is that S can bring it about that A has a high justified credence that ‘S intended p’ without putting A in a position to know that ‘S intended p’. In order to achieve this S has to exploit a sense in which communication can be lottery-like. After defending this view of deniability I argue that it compares favorably to a rival account recently developed by Dinges and Zakkou (2023).

  • 17.
    Peet, Andrew
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The puzzle of plausible deniability2024In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 203, no 5, article id 156Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    How is it that a speaker S can at once make it obvious to an audience A that she intends to communicate some proposition p, and yet at the same time retain plausible deniability with respect to this intention? The answer is that S can bring it about that A has a high justified credence that ‘S intended p’ without putting A in a position to know that ‘S intended p’. In order to achieve this S has to exploit a sense in which communication can be lottery-like. After defending this view of deniability I argue that it compares favorably to a rival account recently developed by Dinges and Zakkou (Mind, https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzac056, 2023).

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  • 18.
    Pitcovski, Eli
    et al.
    Tel-Hai Academic College, Kiryat Shmona, Upper Galilee, Israel.
    Peet, Andrew
    University of Leeds, Woodhouse, Leeds, UK.
    Counterfactuals, indeterminacy, and value: a puzzle2022In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 200, no 1, article id 51Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    According to the Counterfactual Comparative Account of harm and benefit, an event is overall harmful (/beneficial) for a subject to the extent that this subject would have been better (/worse) off if it had not occurred. In this paper we present a challenge for the Counterfactual Comparative Account (CCA). We argue that if physical processes are chancy in the manner suggested by our best physical theories, then CCA faces a dilemma: If it is developed in line with the standard approach to counterfactuals, then it delivers that the value of any event for a subject is indeterminate to the extreme, ranging from terribly harmful to highly beneficial. This problem can only be avoided by developing CCA in line with theories of counterfactuals that allow us to ignore a-typical scenarios. Doing this generates a different problem: when the actual world is itself a-typical we will sometimes get the result that the counterfactual nonoccurrence of an actual benefit is itself a benefit. An account of overall harm bearing either of these two implications is deficient. Given the general aspiration to account for deprivational harms and the dominance of the Counterfactual Comparative Account in this respect, theorists of harm and benefit face a deadlock.

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  • 19.
    Sandgren, Alexander
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Steele, Katie
    School of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
    Levelling counterfactual scepticism2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 199, no 1-2, p. 927-947Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, we develop a novel response to counterfactual scepticism, the thesis that most ordinary counterfactual claims are false. In the process we aim to shed light on the relationship between debates in the philosophy of science and debates concerning the semantics and pragmatics of counterfactuals. We argue that science is concerned with many domains of inquiry, each with its own characteristic entities and regularities; moreover, statements of scientific law often include an implicit ceteris paribus clause that restricts the scope of the associated regularity to circumstances that are 'fitting' to the domain in question. This observation reveals a way of responding to scepticism while, at the same time, doing justice both to the role of counterfactuals in science and to the complexities inherent in ordinary counterfactual discourse and reasoning.

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  • 20.
    Stokke, Andreas
    Arché—Philosophical Research Centre, Department of Logic and Metaphysics, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK .
    Intention-sensitive semantics2010In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 175, no 3, p. 383-404Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 21.
    Sundström, Pär
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Philosophy and Linguistics.
    Is the mystery an illusion?: Papineau on the problem of consciousness2008In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 163, no 2, p. 133-143Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A number of philosophers have recently argued that (i) consciousness properties are identical with some set of physical or functional properties and that (ii) we can explain away the frequently felt puzzlement about this claim as a delusion or confusion generated by our different ways of apprehending or thinking about consciousness. This paper examines David Papineau’s influential version of this view. According to Papineau, the difference between our “phenomenal” and “material” concepts of consciousness produces an instinctive but erroneous intuition that these concepts can’t co-refer. I claim that this account fails. To begin with, it is arguable that we are mystified about physicalism even when the account predicts that we shouldn’t be. Further, and worse, the account predicts that an “intuition of distinctness” will arise in cases where it clearly does not. In conclusion, I make some remarks on the prospects for, constraints on, and (physicalist) alternatives to, a successful defence of the claim (ii).

  • 22.
    Torpe Touborg, Caroline
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Relativizing proportionality to a domain of events2022In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 200, no 2, article id 91Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A cause is proportional to its effect when, roughly speaking, it is at the right level of detail. There is a lively debate about whether proportionality is a necessary condition for causation. One of the main arguments against a proportionality constraint on causation is that many ordinary and seemingly perfectly acceptable causal claims cite causes that are not proportional to their effects. In this paper, I suggest that proponents of a proportionality constraint can respond to this objection by developing an idea that is present in Yablo’s early work on proportionality, but which has strangely been ignored by both Yablo and others in the subsequent debate. My suggestion is that proportionality—and, indeed, causation itself—is relative to a domain of events. At the metaphysical level, this means that the causal relation has an extra relatum—namely, a domain of events. At the level of language, it introduces a new way in which causal claims are context-sensitive: what is expressed by a causal claim depends on the contextually relevant domain of events. As I argue, this suggestion allows us to accommodate the truth of ordinary causal claims while extending the explanatory benefits of a proportionality constraint.

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  • 23.
    Vaassen, Bram
    Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
    Causal exclusion without causal sufficiency2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 198, p. 10341-10353Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Some non-reductionists claim that so-called ‘exclusion arguments’ against their position rely on a notion of causal sufficiency that is particularly problematic. I argue that such concerns about the role of causal sufficiency in exclusion arguments are relatively superficial since exclusionists can address them by reformulating exclusion arguments in terms of physical sufficiency. The resulting exclusion arguments still face familiar problems, but these are not related to the choice between causal sufficiency and physical sufficiency. The upshot is that objections to the notion of causal sufficiency can be answered in a straightforward fashion and that such objections therefore do not pose a serious threat to exclusion arguments.

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