David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The object of this paper is to offer a conception of singular causality that lies between two main views in the literature, which I take to be paradigmatically represented by David Armstrong (1997) and by Michael Tooley (1987, 1990) respectively. Armstrong maintains that there is singular causation wherever there are singular facts that instantiate causal laws; these facts are otherwise independent regularities. Tooley maintains that singular causation is independent of causal laws together with any other non-causal fact. My own view is that Armstrong’s account is too weak to conform a singularist position, as in his view singular causal relations are finally dependent on universal causation. On the other hand, Tooley’s account is too strong to be causal, as causation dissolves into a purely external and mysterious connection that is not even Humean -not even regularities play a role in its establishment. I want to maintain that there exists a middle way that correctly characterizes the spirit of singular causation, and that can be stated by (CS): (CS) Singular causality is metaphysically independent of universal causality. Neither Tooley nor Armstrong would admit (CS) as an appropriate defining thesis for causal singularism. In what follows, I consider different causal situations existing in the literature, with the purpose of analysing singular causation, arguing against Tooley and Armstrong's views, and defending (CS) instead. If my reasons are accepted, Armstrong’s position, rather than being singular in spirit, results into a form of causal universalism. I will also reject Tooley’s singularism as an extreme counterintuitive form of hyperrealism. Some consequences for causation are immediate. In particular, that singular causal relations are tropes, i.e., individual relations.
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