Among the many philosophers who hold that causal facts1 are to be explained in terms of—or more ambitiously, shown to reduce to—facts about what happens, together with facts about the fundamental laws that govern what happens, the clear favorite is an approach that sees counterfactual dependence as the key to such explanation or reduction. The paradigm examples of causation, so advocates of this approach tell us, are examples in which events c and e—the cause and its effect—both occur, but: (...) had c not occurred, e would not have occurred either. From this starting point ideas proliferate in a vast profusion. But the remarkable disparity among these ideas should not obscure their common foundation. Neither should the diversity of opinion about the prospects for a philosophical analysis of causation obscure their importance. For even those philosophers who see these prospects as dim—perhaps because they suffer post-Quinean queasiness at the thought of any analysis of any concept of interest—can often be heard to say such things as that causal relations among events are somehow “a matter of” the patterns of counterfactual dependence to be found in them. It was not always so. Thirty-odd years ago, so-called “regularity” analyses (so-called, presumably, because they traced back to Hume’s well-known analysis of causation as constant conjunction) ruled the day, with Mackie’s Cement of the Universe embodying a classic statement. But they fell on hard times, both because of internal problems—which we will review in due course—and because dramatic improvements in philosophical understanding of counterfactuals made possible the emergence of a serious and potent rival: a counterfactual analysis of causation resting on foundations firm enough to be repel the kind of philosophical suspicion that had formerly warranted dismissal.. (shrink)
It is widely supposed that David Hume invented and espoused the "regularity" theory of causation, holding that causal relations are nothing but a matter of one type of thing being regularly followed by another. It is also widely supposed that he was not only right about this, but that it was one of his greatest contributions to philosophy. Strawson here argues that the regularity theory of causation is indefensible, and that Hume never adopted it in any case. Strawson (...) maintains that Hume did not claim that causation in the natural world is just a matter of regular succession, that such a dogmatic metaphysical claim about the nature of reality would have been utterly contrary to his fundamental philosophical principles, and that he rightly took it for granted that there was more to causation than regularity of succession, claiming only that regularity of succession was all that we could ever know of causation. (shrink)
A collection of new essays on causation in the period from Galileo to Lady Mary Shepherd (roughly 1600-1850). Contributors: David Wootton, Tad Schmaltz, William Eaton and Robert Higgerson, Eric Schliesser, Pauline Phemister, Timothy Stanton, Peter Millican, Constantine Sandis, Boris Hennig, Angela Breitenbach, Stathis Psillos, and Martha Brandt Bolton.
R. J. Hankinson traces the history of ancient Greek thinking about causation and explanation, from its earliest beginnings through more than a thousand years to the middle of the first millennium of the Christian era. He examines ways in which the Ancient Greeks dealt with questions about how and why things happen as and when they do, about the basic constitution and structure of things, about function and purpose, laws of nature, chance, coincidence, and responsibility.
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and “static” (...) explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
In 1982, when computers were just becoming widely available, I was a graduate student beginning my work with Clark Glymour on a PhD thesis entitled: “Causality in the Social Sciences.” Dazed and confused by the vast philosophical literature on causation, I found relative solace in the clarity of Structural Equation Models (SEMs), a form of statistical model used commonly by practicing sociologists, political scientists, etc., to model causal hypotheses with which associations among measured variables might be explained. The statistical (...) literature around SEMs was vast as well, but Clark had extracted from it a particular kind of evidential constraint first studied by Charles Spearman at the beginning of the 20th century, the “vanishing tetrad difference.”1 As it turned out, certain kinds of causal structures entailed these constraints, and others did not. Spearman used this lever to argue for the existence of a single, general intelligence factor, the infamous g (Spearman, 1904). (shrink)
Contemporary philosophy of mind is dominated by a conception of our propositional attitude concepts as comprising a proto-scientific causal-explanatory theory of behavior. This conception has given rise to a spate of recent worries about the prospects for “naturalizing” the theory. In this paper I return to the roots of the “theory-theory” of the attitudes in Wilfrid Sellars’s classic “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.” I present an alternative to the theory-theory’s account of belief in the form of a parody of (...) Sellars’s “Myth of Jones,” one that highlights the normative and pragmatic aspects of this concept and, hopefully, enables us to bypass questions about its physical “realization.”. (shrink)
Recent discussions of mental causation have focused on three principles: (1) Mental properties are (sometimes) causally relevant to physical effects; (2) mental properties are not physical properties; (3) every physical event has in its causal history only physical events and physical properties. Since these principles seem to be inconsistent, solutions have focused on rejecting one or more of them. But I argue that, in spite of appearances, (1)–(3) are not inconsistent. The reason is that 'properties' is used in (...) different senses in the principles. In (1) and (3), 'properties' should be read as 'tropes' (properties here are particulars), while in (2) 'properties' should read as 'types' (properties here are universals or classes). Although mental types are distinct from physical types, every mental trope is a physical trope. This allows mental properties to be causally relevant to physical effects without violating the closed character of the physical world. (shrink)
Causation is important. It is, as Hume said, the cement of the universe, and lies at the heart of our conceptual structure. Causation is one of the most fundamental tools we have for organizing our apprehension of the external world and ourselves. But philosophers' disagreement about the correct interpretation of causation is as limitless as their agreement about its importance. The history of attempts to elucidate the nature of this concept and to situate it with respect (...) to other fundamental concepts is almost as long as the history of philosophy itself. In this first English translation of Causalite; et lois de la nature Max Kistler seeks to reconstruct a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. It will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics; and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of causation and law play a prominent role. (shrink)
Keywords: action, dualism, functionalism, materialism, physicalism Contents l. What is mental causation? 2. History 3. Mental causation as a problem for dualism 4. Mental causation as a problem for physicalism 5. Mental causation and cognitive science..
Situation theory, as developed by Barwise and his collaborators, is used to demonstrate the possibility of defining teleology (and related notions, like that of proper or biological function) in terms of higher order causation, along the lines suggested by Taylor and Wright. This definition avoids the excessive narrowness that results from trying to define teleology in terms of evolutionary history or the effects of natural selection. By legitimating the concept of teleology, this definition also provides promising new avenues (...) for solving long standing problems in the philosophy of mind, such as the problems of intentionality and mental causation. (shrink)
The Truth of History questions how modern historians, confined by the concepts of their own cultures, can still discover truths about the past. Through an examination of the constraints of history, accounts of causation and causal interpretations, C. Behan McCullagh argues that although historical descriptions do not mirror the past, they can correlate with it in a regular and definable way. Far from debating only in the abstract and philosophical, the author constructs his argument in numerous concrete (...) historical examples and explores a new position between believing that history perfectly represents the past and that history can tell us nothing true of the past. (shrink)
In this article, I begin by giving a brief history of melanoma causation. I then discuss the current manner in which malignant melanoma is classified. In general, these systems of classification do not take account of the manner of tumour causation. Instead, they are based on phenomenological features of the tumour, such as size, spread, and morphology. I go on to suggest that misclassification of melanoma is a major problem in clinical practice. I therefore outline an alternative (...) means of classifying these tumours based on causal factors. By analogy with similar systems that have recently emerged for other cancers, I suggest that this causal classification is likely to be both workable and helpful, even in the absence of a full causal-mechanistic understanding of the aetiology of the tumour. (shrink)
The Adequate Cause Theory: On the relation of Philosophical and Legal Concepts of Causality. The paper discusses the first explicit and logically convincing introduction of a concept of probabilistic causality into legal theories of causation in Germany by Johannes von Kries (1888). First, it is shown how this step was prepared by the failure of the philosophical analysis of causation which took its leading examples from physics to overcome the difficulties which presented themselves in cases of "irreducible multicausality". (...) Secondly, I give the basic ideas of Kries's connection of causal theory and probability theory by presenting his concept of "scope" ("Spielraum"). Finally, I turn to some concepts which are still controversively discussed in legal contexts and which exhibit the logical structure analysed by Kries. It is shown that a certain indefiniteness of the relevant distinctions, which cannot be overcome, does not paralyse their being useful. (shrink)
We argue that broad, simplegeneralizations, not specifically linked tocontingencies, will rarely approach truth in ecologyand evolutionary biology. This is because mostinteresting phenomena have multiple, interactingcauses. Instead of looking for single universaltheories to explain the great diversity of naturalsystems, we suggest that it would be profitable todevelop general explanatory frameworks. A frameworkshould clearly specify focal levels. The process orpattern that we wish to study defines our level offocus. The set of potential and actual states at thefocal level interacts with conditions at (...) thecontiguous lower and upper levels of organization,through sets of many-to-one and one-to-manyconnections. The number of initiating conditions andtheir permutations at the lower level define thepotential states at the focal level, whereas theactual state is constrained by the upper-levelboundary conditions. The most useful generalizationsare explanatory frameworks, which are road maps tosolutions, rather than solutions themselves. Suchframeworks outline what is understood about boundaryconditions and initiating conditions so that aninvestigator can pick and choose what is required toeffectively understand a specific event or situation. We discuss these relationships in terms of examplesinvolving sex ratio and mating behavior, competitivehierarchies, insect life-histories and the evolutionof sex. (shrink)
Bobzien presents the definitive study of one of the most interesting intellectual legacies of the ancient Greeks: the Stoic theory of causal determinism. She explains what it was, how the Stoics justified it, and how it relates to their views on possibility, action, freedom, moral responsibility, moral character, fatalism, logical determinism and many other topics. She demonstrates the considerable philosophical richness and power that these ideas retain today.
American biologists in the late nineteenth century pioneered the descriptive-comparative study of all cell divisions from zygote to gastrulation -- the cell lineage. Data from cell lineages were crucial to evolutionary and developmental questions of the day. One of the main questions was the ultimate causation of developmental patterns -- historical or mechanical. E. B. Wilson's groundbreaking lineage work on the polychaete worm Nereis in 1892 set the stage for (1) an attack on Haeckel's phylogenetic-historical notion of recapitulation and (...) (2) support for mechanistic explanations of cleavage patterns. As more lineage work -- especially Lillie's work on "Unio" and Conklin's on "Crepidula" -- became available in the mid-late 1890s, mechanism was tempered with more evolutionary, homology-based views. However, as I show by focusing on three major issues -- homology, body plans and life history -- these views were primarily based on the precocious segregation and prospective significance -- what the cell became not what it was. Even on issues like adaptation, most lineagists argued teleologically from the adult backward. Most cell lineage workers, by 1900, were to varying degrees mechanist/experimentalist and recapitulationist simultaneously. The exception was E. G. Conklin, whose views were more akin to a Darwinian evolutionist than either mechanist or recapitulationist. Lineage work eventually declined and by 1907 published accounts of new lineages had basically stopped. I argue that established workers and younger researchers stopped wanting to take on cell lineage projects because the general patterns were the same for all the spiralians while the specifics showed too much variation. It was hard to theoretically encompass or analyze the minutiae of variation in a recapitulationist or mechanist framework. The only established worker who continued to do comparative lineage studies was E. G. Conklin, perhaps because the variation could best be accommodated by Darwinian evolution. (shrink)
As frequently pointed out in this discussion, one of the most characteristic features of Mayr's approach to the history of biology stems from the fact that he is dealing to a considerable degree with his own professional history. Furthermore, his main criterion for the selection of historical episodes is their relevance for modern biological theory. As W. F. Bynum and others have noted, the general impression of his reviewers is that “one of the towering figures of evolutionary biology (...) has now written a towering history of his discipline.”138 Bynum is here referring to The Growth of Biological Thought, but this observation holds equally true for Mayr's other historical writings: One must surely read this book [One Long Argument] not only for its content in itself, but for what it tells of its author. And certainly as one does so, one comes away full-handed. Many, if not all, of the disputes and controversies that have driven Mayr through his long intellectual life reappear, stated as forcefully and elegantly as ever.139Up to this point, most reviewers agree; the bone of contention is, rather, how to evaluate Mayr's historical work, considering this observation. The two related characteristics of his work-I will call them subjectivity and presentism-stand in opposition to a widespread approach in the history of science exemplified by Kuhn's suggestion that “insofar as possible..., the historian should set aside the science that he knows. His science should be learned from the textbooks and journals of the period he studies.”140 There are, however, historians who consider the close connection between Mayr and the subject matter of his historical studies to be an advantage.141On the other hand, it is assumed that the connection between past and present must result in a distortion of the historical truth and lead to a historiographical fallacy, commonly referred to as “Whig history”. Herbert Butterfield, who in 1931 gave the term its now generally accepted meaning, believed that “real historical understanding is not achieved by the subordination of the past to the present, but rather by our making the past our present and attempting to see life with the eyes of another century than our own”142. Unfortunately, Butterfield's definition of what he considers Whig history remains somewhat vague, and modern authors have emphasized what they consider most important. Butterfield's “subordination of the past to the present” is referred to in respect to the selection of subjects (there are more biographies of Charles Darwin than of, let's say, Louis Agassiz),143 to the evaluation of historical authors,144 or, more generally, to all kinds of histories “with one eye, so to speak, upon the present.”145 The underlying tendency of Whig historians is to produce a “historical account told from the viewpoint of those in power,”146 leading to a “glorification of the present.”147 It is obvious that Mayr's strongly presentist approach to the history of biology can be called Whiggish, if we apply the criteria of “selection” or “reference.” However, it might be worth mentioning that the program of writing a strictly historicist account of the history of science is challenged by various authors.148 For Mayr, it is not only legitimate but necessary to compare the present situation with the past. “Whiggish” is only the evaluation of an author in terms of our time.149I cannot discuss the Whit/anti-Whig controversy in any detail here, apart from saying that Mayr has defended himself rather extensively against the charges of being Whiggish.150 Nevertheless, it may be useful to touch on some of the criticisms that are predominant in reviews of his writings. First, we encounter the notion that historians can write a true and convincing historical account only if they have no personal interest or interpretation of their own; Mayr, on the other hand, because he “has such strong interpretations of his own, ... cannot possibly convince everyone that he is right about everything.”151 It makes one wonder, what historian has ever been able to convince everyone that he or she is right about everything? But apart from this peculiar idea, it unquestionably poses certain dangers if the subject matter of historical scrutiny and the author are identical. At the same time, this identity brings certain advantages with it, especially firsthand experiences of the period in discussion. Whether these personal memories ultimately result in a distorted picture of the past has to be decided in every particular instance. The notion that a scientific study can be conducted by a completely detached observer from a neutral standpoint has been shown to be impossible in physics, and it is also an illusion in historiography. The question is not whether, but which kind of interest are the underlying motivation for a historian. At this point, Mayr is ahead of his critics when he suggests that our understanding of the past always has a subjective component: The main reason, however, why histories are in constant need of revision is that at any given time they merely reflect the present state of understanding; they depend on how the author interpreted the current zeitgeist of biology and on his own conceptual framework and background. Thus, by necessity the writing of history is subjective and ephemeral.152Second, the temporal proximity between the event and the historical analysis makes difficulties inevitable and will finally result in certain false assessments. But this applies to all historians when they discuss recent problems, regardless of whether they are personally involved or not: As long as the battle between Darwinism and Lamarckism was raging, it was quite impossible to undertake an unbiased evaluation of Lamarck. ...[The] definite refutation of Lamarck's theory of evolutionary causation clears the air. We can now study him without bias and emotion and give him the attention that this major figure in the history of biology clearly deserves.153Third, Mayr is primarily interested in biological problems and not, for instance, historiographical, sociological, or psychological questions. Several authors have remarked that since the beginning of the professionalization of the history of science in the 1960s, a rift between two groups has developed, resulting from the heterogeneous professional backgrounds and interests of the people involved: the authors who were originally biologists and became interested in the history of their discipline only later on, and the authors who were trained as historians.154 Whereas the first group, the “biologists,” tend to be laymen in history proper, the “historians” are in most cases laymen in biology. Different professional backgrounds obviously shape the historical perspective in both groups, but neither approach is necessarily superior. The great number of important books in the history of biology written by “biologist” documents how valuable this point of view can be. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the writings of biologists in the history of science tend to have a strong “internalist” tendency and often neglect the professional, cultural, and political context of science. Mayr's approach is that of a “biologist”; it is “internalist,” and typical for scientists who turn to the history of their discipline.I want to conclude my analysis with a quotation from a review by Douglas J. Futuyma, which gives a perceptive glimpse of Mayr's personality and style: One cannot help standing in awe of the germanic capacity for vast, allembracing synthesis: consider the lifelong devotion of Goethe to Faust, or Wagner's integration of the arts into a Gesamtkunstwerk in which all of human history and experience is wrought into epic myth. It is perhaps in this tradition that Ernst Mayr's The Growth of Biological Thought stands: a history of all of biology, a Ring des Nibelungen complete with leitmotivs such as the failures of reductionism, the struggle of biology for independence from physics, and the liberation of population thinking from the bounds of essentialism.155 Within this style of thinking Mayr has “to offer...nothing less than a vision of biology that places neodarwinian evolutionary theory firmly at the centre.”156 There may be other visions of biology, but few of them have as indefatigable and able representatives as Darwinism has in Ernst Mayr. (shrink)
Although interest in them is clearly growing, most professional historians do not accept thought experiments as appropriate tools. Advocates of the deliberate use of thought experiments in history argue that without counterfactuals, causal attributions in history do not make sense. Whereas such arguments play upon the meaning of causation in history, this article focuses on the reasoning processes by which historians arrive at causal explanations. First, we discuss the roles thought experiments play in arriving at explanations (...) of both facts and contrasts. Then, we pinpoint the functions thought experiments fulfill in arriving at weighted explanations of contrasts. (shrink)
Keywords: action, dualism, functionalism, materialism, physicalism Contents 1. What is mental causation? 2. History 3. Mental causation as a problem for dualism 4. Mental causation as a problem for physicalism 5. Mental causation and cognitive science..
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that causation is an essentially macroscopic phenomenon, and that mental causes are therefore capable of outcompeting their more specific physical realizers as causes of physical effects. But I also argue that any causes must be type-identical with physical properties, on pain of positing inexplicable physical conspiracies. I therefore allow macroscopic mental causation, but only when it is physically reducible.
My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mental causation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mental causation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where physical reality (...) consists of a network of events.1 The second concerns the nature of causation, and the third concerns the conception of behavior. I try to vindicate a robust idea of mental causation. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In evolutionary biology changes in population structure are explained by citing trait fitness distribution. I distinguish three interpretations of fitness explanations—the Two‐Factor Model, the Single‐Factor Model, and the Statistical Interpretation—and argue for the last of these. These interpretations differ in their degrees of causal commitment. The first two hold that trait fitness distribution causes population change. Trait fitness explanations, according to these interpretations, are causal explanations. The last maintains that trait fitness distribution correlates with population change but does not cause (...) it. My defense of the Statistical Interpretation relies on a distinctive feature of causation. Causes conform to the Sure Thing Principle. Trait fitness distributions, I argue, do not. *Received July 2009; revised October 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy/Institute for the History, Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, Victoria College, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7, Canada; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Thought experiments are ubiquitous in science and especially prominent in domains in which experimental and observational evidence is scarce. One such domain is the causal analysis of singular events in history. A long‐standing tradition that goes back to Max Weber addresses the issue by means of ‘what‐if’ counterfactuals. In this paper I give a descriptive account of this widely used method and argue that historians following it examine difference makers rather than causes in the philosopher’s sense. While difference making (...) is neither necessary nor sufficient for causation, to establish difference makers is more consistent with the historians’ more ultimate purposes. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Erasmus University, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest a new interpretation of the relations of inherence, causation and conception in Spinoza. I discuss the views of Don Garrett on this issue and argue against Della Rocca's recent suggestion that a strict endorsement of the PSR leads necessarily to the identification of the relations of inherence, causation and conception. I argue that (1) Spinoza never endorsed this identity, and (2) that Della Rocca's suggestion could not be considered as a legitimate reconstruction or (...) friendly amendment to Spinoza's system because it creates several severe and irresolvable problems in the system. -/- In the first part of the paper, I present the considerations and arguments that motivated Don Garrett's and Della Rocca's interpretations. In the second part, I present and examine several problems that result from Della Rocca's reading. In the third and final part, I (1) present my own view on the relation among inherence, causation, and conception; (2) offer a new interpretation of the conceived through relation in Spinoza; and finally, (3) defend and justify the presence of (non-arbitrary) bifurcations at the very center of Spinoza's system. (shrink)
This paper aims to apply contemporary theories of causation to historiography. The main purpose is to show that historians can use the concept of causation in a variety of ways, each of which is associated with different historiographical claims and different kinds of argumentation. Through this application, it will also become clear, contrary to what is often stated, that historical narratives are (in a specific way) causal, and that micro-history can be seen as a response to a (...) very specific (causal) problem of Braudelian macro-history. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the (...) sciences: by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
In this paper I consider possible causation, specifically, would-cause counterfactuals of the form ‘had an event of kind A occurred, it would have caused an event of kind B’. I outline some difficulties for the Lewis program for understanding would-cause counterfactuals, and canvass an alternative. I then spell out a view on their significance, in relation to (i) absence causation, where claims such as ‘A’s not occurring caused B’s not occurring’ seem to make sense when understood in terms (...) of the would-cause counterfactual ‘had an event of kind A occurred, it would have caused an event of kind B’; (ii) contrastive causal explanation, where to explain why E rather than E* occurred we might appeal to the causal history of E and the counterfactual causal history of E*, an approach which appeals directly to would-cause counterfactuals ‘had an event of kind C* occurred, it would have caused an event of kind E*’; and (iii) dispositions, where the claim ‘the glass is fragile’ clearly has some connection or other with would-cause counterfactuals such as ‘were the glass to be struck, the striking would cause the glass to break’. (shrink)