Powers, causation, and modality

Erkenntnis 28 (3):321 - 362 (1988)
A complex theory concerning powers, natures, and causal necessity has emerged from the writings of P. H. Hare, E. H. Madden, and R. Harré. In the course of rebutting objections that other critics have raised to the power account of causation, I correct three of its genuine difficulties: its attempt to analyze power attributions in terms of conditional statements; its characterization of the relation between something's powers and its nature; and its doctrines concerning conceptual necessity. The resulting interpretation of causal modalities is then subsumed under a more general power account of modality, related at a number of points to considerations concerning powers, and further illustrating their philosophical importance.
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