The physical foundations of causation

In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality: Russell's Republic Revisited. Oxford University Press (2007)
I defend what may loosely be called an eliminativist account of causation by showing how several of the main features of causation, namely asymmetry, transitivity, and necessitation (or sometimes probability-raising), arise from the combination of fundamental dynamical laws and a special constraint on the macroscopic structure of matter in the past. At the microscopic level, the causal features of necessitation and transitivity are grounded, but not the asymmetry. At the coarse-grained level of the macroscopic physics, the causal asymmetry is grounded, but not the necessitation or transitivity. Thus, at no single level of description does the physics justify the conditions that are taken to be constitutive of causation. Nevertheless, if we mix our reasoning about the microscopic and macroscopic descriptions, the structure provided by the dynamics and special initial conditions can justify the folk concept of causation to a significant extent. I explain why our causal concept works so well even though at bottom it is comprised of a patchwork of principles that don't mesh well.
Keywords causation  causal asymmetry  past hypothesis
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,357
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Alyssa Ney (2009). Physical Causation and Difference-Making. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):737-764.
    Brad Weslake (forthcoming). A Partial Theory of Actual Causation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Douglas Kutach (2011). Backtracking Influence. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):55-71.
    David Papineau (2013). Causation is Macroscopic but Not Irreducible. In Sophie C. Gibb & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology. Oxford University Press. 126.
    Ned Block (2003). Do Causal Powers Drain Away. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):133-150.
    Huw Price & Brad Weslake (2009). The Time-Asymmetry of Causation. In Helen Beebee, Peter Menzies & Christopher Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oxford University Press.

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    132 ( #5,192 of 1,088,404 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    42 ( #1,414 of 1,088,404 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.