Physical causation and difference-making

This paper examines the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making. It is plausible to think that such theories are compatible with one another as they are aimed at different targets: the former, an empirical account of actual causal relations; the latter, an account that will capture the truth of most of our ordinary causal claims. The question then becomes: what is the relationship between physical causation and difference-making? Is one kind of causal fact more fundamental than the other? This paper defends causal foundationalism: the view that facts about difference-making are dependent on the obtaining of facts about physical causation. However, the paper's main goal is to clarify the structure of the debate. At the end of the paper, it is shown how settling the issue about the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making has more than mere intrinsic interest in unifying the very different pursuits that have been undertaken in the philosophy of causation. It can help to break a stalemate that has arisen in the current debate about mental causation
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axp037
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (2000). Causation as Influence. Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Judith Jarvis Thomson (2003). Causation: Omissions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (1):81–103.
Carolina Sartorio (2005). Causes as Difference-Makers. Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):71 - 96.
Barry Loewer (2001). Mind in a Physical World. Journal of Philosophy 98 (6):315-324.

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Citations of this work BETA
Mathias Frisch (2012). No Place for Causes? Causal Skepticism in Physics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):313-336.

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