Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Stewart Goetz


Presented during the 22nd Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2020 at Ursinus College.

A related presentation is available here.

Project Description

Within the study of philosophy of mind, a principle known as causal closure has been a well-accepted 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 system where things of the physical nature such as atoms can only be influenced by other physical things. If this principle is to be believed, then any type of explanation that is not based in scientific law cannot be used when describing the causal story of physical things. Thus, explanations such as purposeful ones become impossible.

I sought within my research to analyze causal closure and arguments for its veracity. More specifically, I analyzed many arguments advocating for causal closure, especially those claiming that the exceptionless nature of physics along with science’s need for causal closure prove that the principle is true. I found such arguments for it to be lacking. By then showing that physical law is just as iffy in nature as mental law and that while science needs causal closure our universe does not, I believe that I have been able to elucidate some flaws in a principle that is the bedrock of many materialist arguments. Thus, I concluded that causal closure seems to be a flawed principle and is one that is being poorly applied within philosophy today.


Available to Ursinus community only.