Rethinking Anscombe on causation

Although Elizabeth Anscombe’s work on causation is frequently cited and anthologized, her main arguments have been ignored or misunderstood as havingtheir basis in quantum mechanics or a particular theory of perception. I examine her main arguments and show that they not only work against the Humean causaltheories of her time, but also against contemporary attempts to analyze causation in terms of laws and causal properties. She shows that our ordinary usage does not connect causation with laws, and suggests that philosophers emphasize laws for mostly historical reasons. Moreover, she argues that the core of causation is derivativeness, which is as neglected now as when she wrote. Her focus on derivativeness indicates to us how we can both avoid the position that the causal “because” is truth-functional and yet still hold that causal statements are really explanatory
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DOI 10.5840/acpq200781149
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