Submission Date


Document Type





Stewart Goetz

Committee Member

Roger Florka

Committee Member

Robert Dawley

Department Chair

Roger Florka

Project Description

Within the study of philosophy of mind, a principle known as causal closure has been a controversial topic for many years. Causal closure is used to describe the nature of causality within our universe and the principle goes as follows: “all physical things can have only physical causes.” What this means is that our universe exists as a closed causal system where things of the physical nature such as atoms can only be influenced causally by other physical things. If this principle is to be believed, then any type of explanation that is not based in causal explanation cannot be used when describing the explanatory story of anything. Thus, explanations such as purposeful ones become impossible.

In this paper, I analyze the principle of causal closure and its application in materialist theory. More specifically, I seek to demonstrate causal closure’s importance to some materialist arguments and then show why the principle is being misappropriated. By the end of this paper, I seek to display the fundamental flaws in materialist justifications for causal closure while also advocating for the feasibility of purposeful explanation.