How Could There Be True Causal Claims Without There Being Special Causal Facts in the World?

Philosophia 38 (4):755-771 (2010)
Some philosophers of physics recently expressed their skepticism about causation (Norton 2003b, 2007). However, this is not new. The view that causation does not refer to any ontological category perhaps can be attributed to Hume, Kant and Russell. On the other hand, some philosophers (Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe) view causation as a physical process and some others (Cartwright) view causation as making claims about capacities possessed by objects. The issue about the ontological status of causal claims involves issues concerning the ontological status of capacity, modality and dispositional claims. In this paper, my goal is to show that without engaging metaphysical debates about the ontological status of causal claims, it can be shown that we can objectively assign truth values to these statements. I argue that for causal claims to be objective we don't need to postulate the existence of special facts (specific to causal claims) in addition to ordinary physical facts described by physical theories. This, I think, is enough to justify the usefulness of this concept in certain branches (may be all) of science. Once this is achieved, there is no need to engage in unnecessary metaphysical debates. So, even if advanced physical theories don't mention this notion, causal reasoning can still be important in understanding the world not in the sense that science discovers special ontological category called causation but in the sense that we come to know certain facts about the world
Keywords Causation  Objectivity  Modality  Interventionism  Causal anti-fundamentalism  Causal fundamentalism
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-010-9238-9
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Phil Dowe (2000). Physical Causation. Cambridge University Press.

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