The luck argument raises a serious challenge for libertarianism about free will. In broad outline, if an action is undetermined, then it appears to be a matter of luck whether or not one performs it. And if it is a matter of luck whether or not one performs an action, then it seems that the action is not performed with free will. This argument is most effective against event-causal accounts of libertarianism. Recently, Christopher Franklin (2011) has defended (...) event-causal libertarianism against four formulations of the luck argument. I will argue that three of Franklin’s responses are unsuccessful and that there are important versions of the luck challenge that his defense has left unaddressed. (shrink)
Do component forces exist in conjoined circumstances? Cartwright (1980) says no; Creary (1981) says yes. I'm inclined towards Cartwright's side in this matter, but find several problems with her argumentation. My primary aim here is to present a better, distinctly causal, argument against component forces: very roughly, I argue that the joint posit of component and resultant forces in conjoined circumstances gives rise to a threat of causal overdetermination, avoidance of which best proceeds via eliminativism about component (...) forces. A secondary aim is to show that rejecting component forces does not require, pace Cartwright, rejecting certain attractive theses about what laws of nature express and the role such laws play in scientific explanations. (shrink)
The causalargument for physicalism is anayzed and it's key premise--the causal closure of physics--is found wanting. Therefore, a hidden premise must be added to the argument to gain its conclusion, but the hidden premise is indistinguishable from the conclusion of the causalargument. Therefore, it begs the question on physicalism.
In this paper, I will ask whether naïve realists have the conceptual resources for meeting the challenge stemming from the causalargument. As I interpret it, naïve realism is committed to disjunctivism. Therefore, I first set out in detail how one has to formulate the causalargument against the background of disjunctivism. This discussion is above all supposed to work out the key assumptions at stake in the causalargument. I will then go on (...) to sketch out several possible rejoinders on behalf of naïve realism. It will be shown that they all fail to provide a satisfying account of how causation and perceptual consciousness fit together. Accordingly, the upshot will be that the causalargument provides good reason to abandon disjunctivism and, instead, to promote a common factor view of perception. (shrink)
Nicholas Nathan tries to resist the current version of the causalargument for sense-data in two ways. First he suggests that, on what he considers to be the correct reconstruction of the argument, it equivocates on the sense of proximate cause. Second, he defends a form of disjunctivism, by claiming that there might be an extra mechanism involved in producing veridical hallucination that is not present in perception. I argue that Nathan’s reconstruction of the argument is (...) not the appropriate one, and that, properly interpreted, the argument does not equivocate on proximate cause. Furthermore, I claim that his postulation of a modified mechanism for hallucinations is implausibly ad hoc. (shrink)
Howard Robinson’s “revised causalargument” for the sense-datum theory of perception combines elements from two other arguments, the “original” causalargument and the argument from hallucination. Mark Johnston, however, has argued that, once the nature of the object of hallucinatory experience is properly addressed, the errors in hallucination-based arguments for conjunctivist views of perception like the sense-datum theory become apparent. I outline Robinson’s views and then consider the implications of Johnston’s challenge for the revised (...) class='Hi'>causalargument. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim’s causal exclusion argument says that if all physical effects have sufficient physical causes, and no physical effects are caused twice over by distinct physical and mental causes, there cannot be any irreducible mental causes. In addition, Kim has argued that the nonreductive physicalist must give up completeness, and embrace the possibility of downward causation. This paper argues first that this extra argument relies on a principle of property individuation, which the nonreductive physicalist need not accept, (...) and second that once we get clear on overdetermination, there is a way to reject the exclusion principle upon which the causal exclusion argument depends, but third that this should not lead to the belief that mental causation is easily accounted for in terms of counterfactual dependencies. (shrink)
Some argue for materialism claiming that a physical event cannot have a non-physical cause, or by claiming the 'Principle of Causal Closure' to be true. This I call a 'Sweeping Naturalistic Argument'. This article argues against this. It describes what it would be for a material event to have an immaterial cause.
Some mental states are about themselves. Nothing is a cause of itself. So some mental states are not about their causes; they are about things distinct from their causes. If this argument is sound, it spells trouble for causal theories of mental content—the precise sort of trouble depending on the precise sort of causal theory. This paper shows that the argument is sound (§§1-3), and then spells out the trouble (§4).
There is a growing consensus among philosophers of science that scientific endeavors of understanding the human mind or the brain exhibit explanatory pluralism. Relatedly, several philosophers have in recent years defended an interventionist approach to causation that leads to a kind of causal pluralism. In this paper, I explore the consequences of these recent developments in philosophy of science for some of the central debates in philosophy of mind. First, I argue that if we adopt explanatory pluralism and the (...) interventionist approach to causation, our understanding of physicalism has to change, and this leads to what I call pluralistic physicalism. Secondly, I show that this pluralistic physicalism is not endangered by the causal exclusion argument. (shrink)
According to the doctrine of four-dimensionalism, our world and everything in it consists of stages or temporal parts; moreover, where an object exists at various times, it does so, according to the four-dimensionalist, in virtue of having distinct temporal parts at those times. While four-dimensionalism is often motivated by its purported solutions to puzzles about material objects and their persistence through time, it has also been defended by more direct arguments. Three such arguments stand out: (1) the argument from (...) temporary intrinsics, (2) the argument from vagueness and (3) the argument from recombination, Humean supervenience and causal constraints. Not surprisingly, each of these arguments originates in the work of four-dimensionalism’s most prominent modern defender, David Lewis.1 The third of these arguments has received, by far, the least attention, critical or otherwise; it is now time to begin to address this imbalance. (shrink)
There are several interpretations of the argument structure of Darwin's Origin of Species, representing Covering-Law, Inference-to-the-Best-Explanation, and (more recently) Semantic models. I argue that while all three types of interpretation enjoy some textual support, none succeeds in capturing the overall strategy of the Origin, consistent with Darwin's claim that it is 'one long argument'. I provide detailed criticisms of all three current models, and then offer an alternative interpretation based on the view that there are three main (...) class='Hi'>argument strategies in the Origin, all supporting the 'causal efficacy' of Darwin's theory. This interpretation provides both a more unified treatment of the text, and some important implications concerning the relation between general philosophical models of scientific theory support and specific historical cases. (shrink)
A central issue confronting both philosophers and practitioners in formulating an analysis of causation is the question of what constitutes evidence for a causal association. From the 1950s onward, the biostatistician Jerome Cornfield put himself at the center of a controversial debate over whether cigarette smoking was a causative factor in the incidence of lung cancer. Despite criticisms from distinguished statisticians such as Fisher, Berkson and Neyman, Cornfield argued that a review of the scientific evidence supported the conclusion of (...) a causal association. Cornfield's odds ratio in case‐control studies — as a good estimate of relative risk — together with his argument of ''explanatory common cause'' became important tools to use in confronting the skeptics. In this paper, I revisit this important historical episode as recorded in the Journal of National Cancer Institute and the Journal of the American Statistical Association. More specifically, I examine Cornfield's necessary condition on the minimum magnitudes of relative risk in light of confounders. This episode yields important insight into the nature of causal inference by showing the sorts of evidence appealed to by practitioners in supporting claims of causal association. I discuss this event in light of the manipulationist account of causation. (shrink)
Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s freely bringing about a choice is reducible to states and events involving him bringing about the choice. Agent-causal libertarians demur, arguing that free will requires that the agent be irreducibly causally involved. Derk Pereboom and Meghan Griffith have defended agent-causal libertarianism on this score, arguing that since on event-causal libertarianism an agent’s contribution to his choice is exhausted by the causal role of states and events involving him, and since (...) these states and events leave it open which decision he will make, he does not settle which decision occurs, and thus “disappears.” My aim is to explain why this argument fails. In particular, I demonstrate that event-causal libertarians can dismantle the argument by enriching the reductive base in their analysis of free will to include a state that plays the functional role of the self-determining agent and with which the agent is identified. (shrink)
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causalargument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causalargument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist (...) accounts of properties are better equipped to sustain the distinction than dispositional essentialist accounts. Finally, I argue that the additional evidence needed for strong completeness renders the causalargument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)
Recent discussions of physicalism have focused on the question how the physical ought to be characterized. Many have argued that any characterization of the physical should include the stipulation that the physical is non-mental, and others have claimed that a systematic substitution of ‘non-mental’ for ‘physical’ is all that is needed for philosophical purposes. I argue here that both claims are incorrect: substituting ‘non-mental’ for ‘physical’ in the causalargument for physicalism does not deliver the physicalist conclusion, and (...) the specification that the physical is non-mental is irrelevant to the task of formulating physicalism as a substantive, controversial thesis. (shrink)
I examine the meaning and merits of a premise in the Exclusion Argument, the causal closure principle that all physical effects have physical causes. I do so by addressing two questions. First, if we grant the other premises, exactly what kind of closure principle is required to make the Exclusion Argument valid? Second, what are the merits of the requisite closure principle? Concerning the first, I argue that the Exclusion Argument requires a strong, “stringently pure” version (...) of closure. The latter employs two qualifications concerning the physical sufficiency and relative proximity of the physical cause required for every physical effect. The second question is addressed in two steps. I begin by challenging the adequacy of the empirical support offered by David Papineau for closure. Then I assess the merits of “level” and “domain” versions of stringently pure closure. I argue that a domain version lacks adequate and non-question-begging support within the context of the Exclusion Argument. And I argue that the level version leads to a puzzling metaphysics of the physical domain. Thus, we have grounds for rejecting the version of closure required for the Exclusion Argument. This means we can resist the Exclusion Argument while avoiding the implausible implications that come with rejecting one of its other premises. That is, because there are grounds to reject causal closure, one can reasonably affirm the non-overdeterminative causal efficacy of conscious mental states while denying that the latter are identical with physical states. (shrink)
Defending a form of naïve realism about visual experiences is quite popular these days. Those naïve realists who I will be concerned with in this paper make a central claim about the subjective aspects of perceptual experiences. They argue that how it is with the perceiver subjectively when she sees worldly objects is literally determined by those objects. This way of thinking leads them to endorse a form of disjunctivism, according to which the fundamental psychological nature of seeings and hallucinations (...) is distinct. I will oppose their central claim by defending a version of the so-called ‘causalargument’, which dwells on ideas about causation and explanation in perception. The aim of this discussion is to highlight that the subjective aspects of perceptual experiences cannot be explained in naïve realist terms. Instead, it will be argued that one needs to appeal to a mental factor which does not involve worldly objects as constituents, and which is common to seeings and hallucinations. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider an objection to ``natural class''trope nominalism, the view that a trope's nature isdetermined by its membership in a natural class of tropes.The objection is that natural class trope nominalismis inconsistent with causes' being efficacious invirtue of having tropes of a certain type. I arguethat if natural class trope nominalism is combinedwith property counterpart theory, then this objectioncan be rebutted.
(1) anything that fs does so because it participates in the f itself. (2) it is impossible that: a form phi fs because phi participates in phi. (3) the f itself fs. These are inconsistent all right, but (1) is not a doctrine of the theory of forms, and (2) is neither reasonable nor held by plato! but the tma does not involve any of these three. Rather, the tma is aimed at (4) anything that fs does so (a) because (...) it participates in the f itself and (b) because the f itself fs. And the tma uses only simple inference rules of the logic of 'because'–no suppressed premises. I also discuss causal regress arguments generally. (shrink)
This paper examines Jaegwon Kim's Supervenience Argument (SA) against nonreductive physicalism, concentrating on Kim's response to two of the most important objections against the SA: First, the Overdetermination Argument, according to which Kim has no convincing argument against the possibility that mental causation might be a case of genuine or systematic overdetermination; second, the Generalization Argument, according to which the SA would entail that causation at any level gives way to causation at the next lower level, (...) thereby leading to an untenable all-encompassing epiphenomenalism. It is argued that as of yet, Kim has failed to develop a coherent overall position, since various moves he makes in response to these criticisms are strangely at odds with other parts of his philosophical position. (shrink)
The paper argues that on three out of five possible hypotheses about the Stern-Gerlach experiment we can construct novel and comparatively realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and Quantum Mechanics conflict. It concludes that Causal Decision Theory is false.
The most potentially powerful objection to the possibility oftime travel stems from the fact that it can, under the right conditions, give rise to closedcausal loops, and closed causal loops can be turned into self-defeating causal chains;folks killing their infant selves, setting out to destroy the world before they were born,and the like. It used to be thought that such chains present paradoxes; the receivedwisdom nowadays is that they give rise to physical anomalies in the form of inexplicably (...) correlated events. I argue against the received wisdom. I can find nothing in them that argues against the possibility (even, the probability) of time travel. (shrink)
causal concepts, what is to be made of this embarrassment of riches? By considering a variety of theoretical perspectives, she can discover which principles or assumptions about causation are robust, and which hold only within particular frameworks. In particular, she should be suspicious when the different premises in an argument can only be (...) made true by shifting between different theories of causation. I illustrate these themes using the causal exclusion argument. (shrink)
Two of the most important concepts in contemporary philosophy of mind are computation and consciousness. This paper explores whether there is a strong relationship between these concepts in the following sense: is a computational theory of consciousness possible? That is, is the right kind of computation sufficient for the instantiation of consciousness. In this paper, I argue that the abstract nature of computational processes precludes computations from instantiating the concrete properties constitutive of consciousness. If this is correct, then not only (...) is there no viable computational theory of consciousness, the Human Mental State Multiple Realizability in Silicon Thesis is almost certainly false. (shrink)
Logically, weighting is transitive, but similarity is not, so clustering cannot be either. Entailments must help a child to review attribute lists more efficiently. Children's understanding of exceptions to generic claims precedes their ability to articulate explanations. So agency, as enabling constraint, may show coherent covariation with attributes, as mere extensional, observable effect of intensional entailments.
Relevance is a triadic relation between an item, an outcome or goal, and a situation. Causal relevance consists in an item's ability to help produce an outcome in a situation. Epistemic relevance, a distinct concept, consists in the ability of a piece of information (or a speech act communicating or requesting a piece of information) to help achieve an epistemic goal in a situation. It has this ability when it can be ineliminably combined with other at least potentially accurate (...) information to achieve the goal. The relevance of a conversational contribution, premiss relevance and conclusion relevance are species of epistemic relevance thus defined. The conception of premiss relevance which results provides a basis for determining when the various ‘arguments ad’ called fallacies of relevance are indeed irrelevant. In particular, an ad verecundiam appeal is irrelevant if the authority cited lacks expertise in a cognitive domain to which the conclusion belongs, the authority does not exercise its expertise in coming to endorse the conclusion, or the conclusion does not belong to a cognitive domain; otherwise the ad verecundiam is relevant. (shrink)
I develop new paths to the existence of a concrete necessary being. These paths assume a metaphysical framework in which there are abstract states of affairs that can obtain or fail to obtain. One path begins with the following causal principle: necessarily, any contingent concrete object possibly has a cause. I mark out steps from that principle to a more complex causal principle and from there to the existence of a concrete necessary being. I offer a couple alternative (...)causal principles and paths, too. The paths marked out rely on relatively modest causal principles and avoid many obstacles that traditional cosmological arguments face. (shrink)
A major debate in the philosophy of biology centers on the question of how we should understand the causal structure of natural selection. This debate is polarized into the causal and statistical positions. The main arguments from the statistical side are that a causal construal of the theory of natural selection's central concept, fitness, either (i) leads to inaccurate predictions about population dynamics, or (ii) leads to an incoherent set of causal commitments. In this essay, I (...) argue that neither the predictive inaccuracy nor the incoherency arguments successfully undermine the causal account of fitness. 1 Introduction2 The Importance of Trait Fitness3 Trait Fitness is not a Silver Bullet4 The Fundamental Incoherency Argument5 Car Racing and Trait Fitness Reversals6 Population Subdivisions and Evolution7 The STP and the Argument for the Incoherency of the Causal Account of Fitness8 Conclusions. (shrink)
This paper develops the view that in arguing informally individuals construct a dual representation in which there is a coupling of arguments and the structure of the qualitative (mental) causal model to which these refer. Invited to consider a future possibility, individuals generate a causal model and mentally simulate the consequences of certain actions. Their arguments refer to the causal paths in the model. Correspondingly, faced with specific arguments about a policy option they generate a model with (...) particular causal paths and mentally simulate the outcomes. The results of Experiment 1 are consistent with this notion. Decisions on the percentage of funds to be allocated to genetically modified (GM) crop research depended on the structure of the arguments elicited in response to imagining a future state of affairs. Specifically, the presence of a dissuasive argument eliminated the impact of any persuasive argument. The non-monotonic properties of everyday informal argument can then be seen as a corollary of change to causal structure in the model. The dual representation view predicts that the impact of a dissuasive argument will depend on the structure of the causal model. Experiment 2 tested and confirmed this prediction by requiring individuals to judge the relative persuasiveness of two cases referring either to a model with two independent causal paths or to a model in which one causal path depended on the other. In contrast to Experiment 1, prior opinion on GM crop research did not affect allocation decisions. An advisory role in contrast to a participant role may encourage a more decontextualised mode of thinking. According to the dual representation view, ease of mental simulation should exert wide-ranging effects on judgements and the rhetoric of arguments should also be important. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of these expectations. (shrink)