Several proponents of the interventionisttheory of causation have recently argued for a neo-Russellian account of causation. The paper discusses two strategies for interventionists to be neo-Russellians. Firstly, I argue that the open systems argument – the main argument for a neo-Russellian account advocated by interventionists – fails. Secondly, I explore and discuss an alternative for interventionists who wish to be neo-Russellians: the statistical mechanical account. Although the latter account is an attractive alternative, it is argued (...) that interventionists are not able to adopt it straightforwardly. Hence, to be neo-Russellians remains a challenge to interventionists. (shrink)
The systems studied in the special sciences are often said to be causally autonomous, in the sense that their higher-level properties have causal powers that are independent of those of their more basic physical properties. This view was espoused by the British emergentists, who claimed that systems achieving a certain level of organizational complexity have distinctive causal powers that emerge from their constituent elements but do not derive from them.2 More recently, non-reductive physicalists have espoused a similar view about the (...) causal autonomy of specialscience properties. They argue that since these properties can typically have multiple physical realizations, they are not identical to physical properties, and further they possess causal powers that differ from those of their physical realizers.3 Despite the orthodoxy of this view, it is hard to find a clear exposition of its meaning or a defence of it in terms of a well-motivated account of causation. In this paper, we aim to address this gap in the literature by clarifying what is implied by the doctrine of the causal autonomy of special-science properties and by defending the doctrine using a prominent theory of causation from the philosophy of science. The theory of causation we employ is a simplified version of an “interventionist” theory advanced by James Woodward (2003, forthcoming a, b), according to which a cause makes a counterfactual difference to its effects. In terms of this theory, it is possible to show that a special-science property can make a difference to some effect while the physical property that realizes it does not. Although other philosophers have also used counterfactual analyses of causation to argue for the causal autonomy of special-science properties,4 the theory of causation we employ is able to establish this with an unprecedented level of precision.. (shrink)
According to James Woodward’s influential interventionist account of causation, X is a cause of Y iff, roughly, there is a possible intervention on X that changes Y. Woodward requires that interventions be merely logically possible. I will argue for two claims against this modal character of interventions: First, merely logically possible interventions are dispensable for the semantic project of providing an account of the meaning of causal statements. If interventions are indeed dispensable, the interventionisttheory collapses (...) into (some sort of) a counterfactual theory of causation. Thus, the interventionisttheory is not tenable as a theory of causation in its own right. Second, if one maintains that merely logically possible interventions are indispensable, then interventions with this modal character lead to the fatal result that interventionist counterfactuals are evaluated inadequately. Consequently, interventionists offer an inadequate theory of causation. I suggest that if we are concerned with explicating causal concepts and stating the truth-conditions of causal claims we best get rid of Woodwardian interventions. (shrink)
One part of the true theory of actual causation is a set of conditions responsible for eliminating all of the non-causes of an effect that can be discerned at the level of counterfactual structure. I defend a proposal for this part of the theory.
A combination of process and counterfactual theories of causation is proposed with the aim of preserving the strengths of each of the approaches while avoiding their shortcomings. The basis for the combination, or hybrid, view is the need, common to both accounts, of imposing a stability requirement on the causal relation.
Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. -/- In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and (...) often produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. -/- We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation. (shrink)
It is commonplace to distinguish between propositional justification (having good reasons for believing p) and doxastic justification (believing p on the basis of those good reasons).One necessary requirement for bridging the gap between S’s merely having propositional justification that p and S’s having doxastic justification that p is that S base her belief that p on her reasons (propositional justification).A plausible suggestion for what it takes for S’s belief to be based on her reasons is that her reasons must contribute (...) causally to S’s having that belief. Though this suggestion is plausible, causal accounts of the basing relation that have been proposed have not fared well. In particular, cases involving causal deviancy and cases involving over-determination have posed serious problems for causal accounts of the basing relation. Although previous causal accounts of the basing relation seem to fall before these problems, it is possible to construct an acceptable causal account of the basing relation. That is, it is possible to construct a causal account of the basing relation that not only fits our intuitions about doxastic justification in general, but also is not susceptible to the problems posed by causal deviancy and causal over-determination. The interventionist account of causation provides the tools for constructing such an account. My aim is to make use of the insights of the interventionist account of causation to develop and defend an adequate causal account of the basing relation. (shrink)
I propose a non-Humean theory of causation with “tendencies” as causal connections. Not, however, as “necessary connexions”: causes are not sufficient, they do not necessitate their effects. The theory is designed to be, not an analysis of the concept of causation, but a description of what is the case in typical cases of causa-tion. I therefore call it a metaphysical theory of causation, as opposed to a semantic one.
This paper defends an interventionist treatment of mechanisms and contrasts this with Waskan (forthcoming). Interventionism embodies a difference-making conception of causation. I contrast such conceptions with geometrical/mechanical or “actualist” conceptions, associating Waskan’s proposals with the latter. It is argued that geometrical/mechanical conceptions of causation cannot replace difference-making conceptions in characterizing the behavior of mechanisms, but that some of the intuitions behind the geometrical/mechanical approach can be captured by thinking in terms of spatio-temporally organized difference-making information.
This article presents Roman Ingarden’s theory of causation, as developed in volume III of The Controversy about the Existence of the World, and defends analternative which uses some important insights of Ingarden. It rejects Ingarden’s claim that a cause is simultaneous with its effect and that a cause necessitates its effect. It uses Ingarden’s notion of ‘inclinations’ and accepts Ingarden’s claim that an event cannot necessitate a later event.
In this paper I offer an 'integrating account' of singular causation, where the term 'integrating' refers to the following program for analysing causation. There are two intuitions about causation, both of which face serious counterexamples when used as the basis for an analysis of causation. The 'process' intuition, which says that causes and effects are linked by concrete processes, runs into trouble with cases of 'misconnections', where an event which serves to prevent another fails to do (...) so on a particular occasion and yet the two events are linked by causal processes. The chance raising intuition, according to which causes raise the chance of their effects, easily accounts for misconnections but faces the problem of chance lowering causes, a problem easily accounted for by the process approach. The integrating program attempts to provide an analysis of singular causation by synthesising the two insights, so as to solve both problems. In this paper I show that extant versions of the integrating program due to Eells, Lewis, and Menzies fail to account for the chance-lowering counterexample. I offer a new diagnosis of the chance lowering case, and use that as a basis for an integrating account of causation which does solve both cases. In doing so, I accept various assumptions of the integrating program, in particular that there are no other problems with these two approaches. As an example of the process account, I focus on the recent CQ theory of Wesley Salmon (1997). (shrink)
This critical notice highlights the important contributions that Eric Watkins's writings have made to our understanding of theories about causation developed in eighteenth-century German philosophy and by Kant in particular. Watkins provides a convincing argument that central to Kant's theory of causation is the notion of a real ground or causal power that is non-Humean (since it doesn't reduce to regularities or counterfactual dependencies among events or states) and non-Leibnizean because it doesn't reduce to logical or conceptual (...) relations. However, we raise questions about Watkins's more specific claims that Kant completely rejects a model on which the first relatum of a phenomenal causal relation is an event and that he maintains that real grounds are metaphysically and not just epistemically indeterminate. -/- . (shrink)
Given certain well-known observations by Mach and Russell, the question arises what place there is for causation in the physical world. My aim in this chapter is to understand under what conditions we can use causal terminology and how it fi ts in with what physics has to say. I will argue for a disposition-based process-theory of causation. After addressing Mach’s and Russell’s concerns I will start by outlining the kind of problem the disposition based process-theory (...) of causation is meant to solve. In a second step I will discuss the nature of those dispositions that will be relevant for our question. In section 3 I will discuss existing dispositional accounts of causation before I proceed to present my own account (sections 4 to 6) and contrast it with traditional process-theories (section 7). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Kierkegaard's theory of change is motivated by a robust notion of contingency. His view of contingency is sharply juxtaposed with a strong notion of absolute necessity. I show that how he understands these notions explains certain of his claims about causation. I end by suggesting a compatibilist interpretation of Kierkegaard's philosophy.
A theory of causation with ‘tendencies’ as causal con- nections is proposed. Not, however, as ‘necessary connec- tions’: causes are not sufficient, they do not necessitate their effects. The theory is not an analysis of the concept of causation, but a description of what is the case in typical cases of causation. Therefore it does not strictly contradict any analysis of the concept of causation, not even reduct- ive ones. It would even be supported (...) by a counterfactual or a probabilistic analysis. (shrink)
An actual cause of some token effect is itself a (distinct) token event (or fact, or state of affairs, …) that helped to bring about that effect. The notion of an actual cause is different from that of a potential cause – for example a pre-empted backup – which had the capacity to bring about the effect, but which wasn't in fact operative on the occasion in question. Sometimes actual causes are also distinguished from mere background conditions: as when we (...) judge that the struck match was a cause of the fire, while the presence of oxygen was merely part of the relevant background against which the struck match operated. Actual causation is also to be distinguished from type causation: actual causation holds between token events in a particular, concrete scenario; type causation, by contrast, holds between event kinds in scenario kinds. (shrink)
The problem of freedom and determinism has vexed philosophers for several millennia, and continues to be a topic of lively debate today. One of the proposed solutions to the problem that has received a great deal of attention is the Theory of Agent Causation. While the theory has enjoyed its share of advocates, and perhaps more than its share of critics, the theory’s advocates and critics have always agreed on one thing: the Theory of Agent (...)Causation is an incompatibilist theory. That is, both believers and nonbelievers in the theory have taken it for granted that the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is one according to which freedom and determinism are incompatible. In fact, so entrenched is this assumption that no one on either side of the debate has ever questioned it. Yet it turns out that this assumption is wrong – the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is a compatibilist one. (shrink)
In The Secret Connexion1 Galen Strawson argues against the traditional interpretation of Hume, according to which Hume’s theory of meaning leads him to a regularity theory of causation. In actual fact, says Strawson, ‘Hume believes firmly in some sort of natural necessity’ (p. 277). What Hume denied was that we are aware of causal connections outrunning regular succession, and that we have a ‘positively or descriptively contentful conception’ of such powers (p. 283); he did not deny that (...) there are such powers, or that they are what we are talking about when we talk about causation. Strawson has four central lines of argument. His ‘most direct evidence’ (p. 2) against a regularity interpretation consists of (1) passages where Hume refers to hidden powers underlying the regularities of which we are aware. Strawson’s broader motivations for rejecting the traditional interpretation are (2) that the regularity theory is in itself quite absurd, and (3) that it is incompatible with Hume’s ‘non-committal scepticism’. And the method which he uses to defend his interpretation against pressure from the theory of ideas is (4) to develop some comments of Hume’s on ‘relative’ ideas into something like a further theory of content to supplement the theory of ideas. Strawson develops almost the strongest case I can imagine for his claims. I shall try to explain why he leaves me unconvinced. (shrink)
Advocates of the conserved quantity (CQ) theory of causation have their own peculiar problem with conservation laws. Since they analyze causal process and interaction in terms of conserved quantities that are in turn defined as physical quantities governed by conservation laws, they must formulate conservation laws in a way that does not invoke causation, or else circularity threatens. In this paper I will propose an adequate formulation of a conservation law that serves CQ theorists' purpose.
permits a sound and rigorously definable notion of ‘originating cause’ or causa causans—a type of transition event—of an outcome event. Mackie has famously suggested that causes form a family of ‘inus’ conditions, where an inus condition is ‘an insufficient but non-redundant part of an unnecessary but sufficient condition’. In this essay the needed concepts of BST theory are developed in detail, and it is then proved that the causae causantes of a given outcome event have exactly the structure of (...) a set of Mackie inus conditions. The proof requires the assumption that there is no EPR-like ‘funny business’. This seems enough to constitute a theory of ‘causation’ in at least one of its many senses. Introduction The cement of the universe Preliminaries 3.1 First definitions and postulates 3.2 Ontology: propositions 3.3 Ontology: initial events 3.4 Ontology: outcome events 3.5 Ontology: transition events 3.6 Propositional language applied to events Causae causantes 4.1 Causae causantes are basic primary transition events 4.2 Causae causantes of an outcome chain 4.3 No funny business Causae causantes and inns and inus conditions 5.1 Inns conditions of outcome chains: not quite 5.2 Inns conditions of outcome chains 5.3 Inns conditions of scattered outcome events 5.4 Inus conditions for disjunctive outcome events 5.5 Inns and inus conditions of transition events Counterfactual conditionals Appendix: Tense and modal connectives in BST. (shrink)
Several authors have recently attempted to provide a physicalist analysis of causation by appealing to terms from physics that characterise causal processes. Accounts based on forces, energy/momentum transfer and fundamental interactions have been suggested in the literature. In this paper, I wish to show that the former two are untenable when the effect of enclosed electromagnetic fluxes in quantum theory is considered (i.e. the Aharonov-Bohm effect). Furthermore, I suggest that even in the classical and non-relativistic limits, a (...)theory of fundamental interactions should not be reduced to either a theory of forces or of energy/momentum transfer, but should be understood as a classical account of mutual interactions. Causal links are therefore correctly characterised by generalised potentials. This leads to some speculation regarding the fundamental ontology of interactions and, in particular, the role of the quantum mechanical phase. (shrink)
There is, no doubt, a temptation to treat preventions, such as ‘the father’s grabbing the child prevented the accident’, and cases of ‘causation’ by omission, such as ‘the father’s inattention was the cause of the child’s accident’, as cases of genuine causation. I think they are not, and in this paper I defend a theory of what they are. More specifically, the counterfactual theory defended here is that a claim about prevention or ‘causation’ by omission (...) should be understood not as being directly about actual genuine causation but primarily as a counterfactual claim about genuine causation.1 The relation between actual causation and the mere possibility of causation allows my theory to explain both the difference and the similarity between the two notions (causation and prevention/omission). Further, the difference explains certain intuitions we have and the similarity justifies and explains the fact that for practical purposes we usually treat preventions and omissions as if they were genuine causation. Finally, the fact that this counterfactual theory of prevention and omission takes causation as primitive suggests that it is consistent with any theory of causation. This allows us to construct two arguments against what I will call genuinism, the view that cases of prevention and ‘causation’ by omission really are cases of genuine causation. In section II I show that genuinism does not account for the so-called intuition of difference. In section III I outline a number of problems that various theories of causation have with preventions and ‘causation’ by omission. These problems are ipso facto problems for genuinism, whereas I show in section V how the counterfactual theory solves those problems. Further, I answer a genuinist argument based on another type of intuition—the genuinist intuition—by showing why we have that intuition and how it should be handled (section VI). (shrink)
In this paper, my central aim is to defend the Powers Theory of causation, according to which causation is the exercise of a power (or manifestation of a disposition). I will do so by, first, presenting a recent version of the Powers Theory, that of Mumford (Forthcoming). Second, I will raise an objection to Mumford’s account. Third, I will offer a revised version that avoids the objection. And, fourth, I will end by briefly comparing the proposed (...) Powers Theory with the Neo-Humean, counterfactual theory. (shrink)
In this paper today, I would like to offer a new analysis of causation and of causal claims. It is an unorthodox one, as you will see, but I suspect that in the not too distant future it will be seen as intuitively, perhaps even trivially, true. I hardly need defend the urgency of my project. Ever since Hume, philosophers have wondered whether there are causes. This is a desperate situation. With no causes, it's hard to see how brushing (...) my teeth is likely to prevent tooth decay. Indeed, it would not be unreasonable to read Hume as an advocate of rotten teeth, which might explain the sad state that many British mouths find themselves in today. The attentive listener will have noted that I said Hume's advocacy of rotten teeth might explain the abysmal state of British oral hygiene. Of course, if Hume is right about causation then nothing explains anything, and that explains why I have been tentative in my claim. The account I would like to propose is this. The claim ‘x causes y’ is to be understood in the following way: ‘x makes y happen’. That is, to say that x is the cause of y is just to say that x makes y happen. Or, to put it more succinctly, if x is the cause of y, then x makes y happen. This is no doubt a startling claim, and one in need of further clarification and defense. To begin, I should like to contrast my analysis with another that might, on its surface, appear similar. Suppose one were to claim that 'x is the cause of y' means that x brings y about. But ‘bringing about’ is hardly an informative verbal clause, and does little ampliative work. This way of putting it lacks the opaque transparency that we’ve come to expect of philosophical analyses of causation. Now this new account is not necessarily inconsistent with other, more traditional analyses, such as Lewis and Hausman's analyses of causation in terms of counterfactuals or Eells' probabilistic theory of causation. Consider first counterfactual analyses of causation. These are efforts to account for the meaning of causal dependencies.. (shrink)
In this paper, I will first clarify Lewis’s influence theory of causation by relying on his theory of events. And then I will consider Michael Strevens’s charge against the sufficiency of Lewis’s theory. My claim is that it is legitimate but does not pose as serious a problem for Lewis’s theory as Strevens thinks because Lewis can surmount it by limiting the scope of his theory to causation between concrete events. Michael Strevens raises (...) an alleged counterexample to the necessity of Lewis’s theory that, if successful, would have a very important advantage over other alleged counterexamples. But I will assert that it is simply mistaken. My defense of Lewis’s theory will shed interesting light on the relationship between Lewis’s theory and Salmon’s mark theory. (shrink)
A probabilistic theory of causation is a theory which holds that the central feature of causation is that causes (usually) raise the probability of their effects. In this dissertation, I defend Hans Reichenbach's original (1953) version of the probabilistic theory of causation, which analyses causal relations in terms of a three place statistical betweenness relation. Unlike most discussions of this theory, I hold that the statistical relation should be taken as a sufficient, but (...) not as necessary, condition for causal betweenness. With this difference in interpretation, Reichenbach's theory is shown to be immune to all of the criticisms which have been raised against it in the last.. (shrink)
The key idea of the interventionist account of causation is that a variable A causes a variable B if and only if B would change if A were manipulated in an appropriate way. I argue that Woodward’s (Making things happen. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003) version of interventionism does not provide a sufficient condition for causation, insofar as it is not adequate for manipulations grounded on association laws. Such laws, which express relations of mutual dependence between variables, (...) ground manipulative relationships which are not causal. I suggest that the interventionist analysis is sufficient for nomological dependence rather than for causation. (shrink)
In the 17th Discussion of his Tahafut al-Falasifah (“Incoherence of the Philosophers”), Ghazali presents two theories of causation which, he claims, accommodate belief in the possibility of miracles. The first of these, which is usually taken to represent Ghazali’s own position, is a form of occasionalism. In this paper I argue that Ghazali fails to prove that this theory is compatible with belief in the possibility of miracles.
This article attempts to develop the abandoned occasionalist model of causation into a credible present-day theory. If objects can never exhaust one another through their relations, it is hard to know how they can ever interact at all. This article handles the problem by dividing objects into two kinds: the real objects that emerge from Heidegger’s tool-analysis and the intentional objects of Husserl’s phenomenology. Each of these objects turns out to be split by an additional rift between the (...) object as an enduring unit and its plurality of traits. This explains Heidegger’s notorious ‘fourfold’ model of the thing. This article shows that Heidegger’s Geviert must be reinterpreted as a system of four tensions that can be identified as time, space, essence, and eidos. Time and space can no longer be left as peerless dimensions of the cosmos. Instead, they are shown to arise from the tensions between things and their qualities. And for this reason they are joined by essence (in the classical sense of the term) and eidos (in Husserl’s sense, not Plato’s) as two out of four basic features of the fabric of the world. (shrink)
Larry Wright and others have advanced causal accounts of functional explanation, designed to alleviate fears about the legitimacy of such explanations. These analyses take functional explanations to describe second order causal relations. These second order relations are conceptually puzzling. I present an account of second order causation from within the framework of Eells' probabilistic theory of causation; the account makes use of the population-relativity of causation that is built into this theory.
I apply some of the lessons from quantum theory, in particular from Bell’s theorem, to a debate on the foundations of decision theory and causation. By tracing a formal analogy between the basic assumptions of causal decision theory (CDT)—which was developed partly in response to Newcomb’s problem— and those of a local hidden variable theory in the context of quantum mechanics, I show that an agent who acts according to CDT and gives any nonzero credence (...) to some possible causal interpretations underlying quantum phenomena should bet against quantum mechanics in some feasible game scenarios involving entangled systems, no matter what evidence they acquire. As a consequence, either the most accepted version of decision theory is wrong, or it provides a practical distinction, in terms of the prescribed behaviour of rational agents, between some metaphysical hypotheses regarding the causal structure underlying quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Advocates of the computational theory of mind claim that the mind is a computer whose operations can be implemented by various computational systems. According to these philosophers, the mind is multiply realisable because—as they claim—thinking involves the manipulation of syntactically structured mental representations. Since syntactically structured representations can be made of different kinds of material while performing the same calculation, mental processes can also be implemented by different kinds of material. From this perspective, consciousness plays a minor role in (...) mental activity. However, contemporary neuroscience provides experimental evidence suggesting that mental representations necessarily involve consciousness. Consciousness does not only enable individuals to become aware of their own thoughts, it also constantly changes the causal properties of these thoughts. In light of these empirical studies, mental representations appear to be intrinsically dependent on consciousness. This discovery represents an obstacle to any attempt to construct an artificial mind. (shrink)
This paper argues that, notwithstanding the remarkable popularity of Woodward's (2003) interventionist analysis of causation, the exact definitional details of that theory are surprisingly little understood. There exists a discrepancy in the literature between the clarity about the logical details of interventionism, on the one hand, and the enormous work interventionism is expected to do, on the other. The first part of the paper distinguishes three significantly different readings of the logical form of Woodward's (2003) interventionist (...)theory and identifies the reading that best captures the basic intuitions behind interventionism. In the second part, I show that this preferable reading is far from doing all the work that friends of interventionism would like it to do. (shrink)
Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998). For others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level where carcinogenesis consists of disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein and Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account (...) of causation (Woodward 2003), I propose a formal definition of downward causation and discuss further requirements (in light of Baumgartner 2009). I then show that such an account cannot be mobilized in support of non-reductive physicalism (contrary to Raatikainen 2010). However, I also argue that such downward causation claims might point at particularly interesting dynamic properties of causal relationships that might prove salient in characterizing causal relationships (following Woodward 2010). (shrink)
In Making Things Happen, James Woodward influentially combines a causal modeling analysis of actual causation with an interventionist semantics for the counterfactuals encoded in causal models. This leads to circularities, since interventions are defined in terms of both actual causation and interventionist counterfactuals. Circularity can be avoided by instead combining a causal modeling analysis with a semantics along the lines of that given by David Lewis, on which counterfactuals are to be evaluated with respect to worlds (...) in which their antecedents are realized by miracles. I argue, pace Woodward, that causal modeling analyses perform just as well when combined with the Lewisian semantics as when combined with the interventionist semantics. Reductivity therefore remains a reasonable hope. (shrink)
Ehring shows the inadequacy of received theories of causation, and, introducing conceptual devices of his own, provides a wholly new account of causation as the persistence over time of individual properties, or "tropes.".
Hitchcock (2001a) argues that the distinction between singular and general causation conflates the two distinctions ‘actual causation vs. causal tendencies’ and ‘wide vs. narrow causation’. Based on a recent regularity account of causation I will show that Hitchcock’s introduction of the two distinctions is an unnecessary multiplication of causal concepts.
Sober (1984) presents an account of selection motivated by the view that one property can causally explain the occurrence of another only if the first plays a unique role in the causal production of the second. Sober holds that a causal property will play such a unique role if it is a population level cause of its effect, and on this basis argues that there is selection for a trait T only if T is a population level cause of survival (...) and reproductive success. Sterelny and Kitcher (1988) claim against Sober that some traits directly subject to selection will not satisfy the probabilistic condition on population level causation. In this paper I show that Sober has the resources to resist the Sterelny-Kitcher complaint, but I argue that not all traits that satisfy the probabilistic condition play the required unique role in the production of their effects. (shrink)
After briefly presenting Ronald Giere's (1979, 1980) recent counterfactual characterization of population-level causation, I present two counterexamples to the characterization. The difficulty discussed stems from nonaccidental correlations that can obtain between causally effective and causally neutral factors.
In recent papers, Lei Zhong argues that the autonomy solution to the causal exclusion problem is unavailable to anyone that endorses the counterfactual model of causation. The linchpin of his argument is that the counterfactual theory entails the downward causation principle, which conflicts with the autonomy solution. In this note I argue that the counterfactual theory does not entail the downward causation principle, so it is possible to advocate for the autonomy solution to the causal (...) exclusion problem from within the counterfactual theory of causation. (shrink)
The majority of the currently flourishing theories of actual (token-level) causation are located in a broadly counterfactual framework that draws on structural equations. In order to account for cases of symmetric overdeterminiation and preemption, these theories resort to rather intricate analytical tools, most of all, to what Hitchcock (J Philos 98:273–299, 2001) has labeled explicitly nonforetracking counterfactuals. This paper introduces a regularity theoretic approach to actual causation that only employs material (non-modal) conditionals, standard Boolean minimization procedures, and a (...) (non-modal) stability condition that regulates the behavior of causal models under model expansions. Notwithstanding its lightweight analytical toolbox, this regularity theory performs at least as well as the structural equations accounts with their heavy appliances. (shrink)
In the field of the central core theory of social representations, research which has focused on the normative aspects is relatively recent as it dates back little more than ten years. The theory of conditionality which developed from research into the periphery of representation results from this. It is a particularly fruitful theory to explain “normative latitudes” and the behaviour accruing to them. One of the particularities of these works stresses the importance of linking the normative aspects (...) with specific methods and/or analyses. In this paper, we will illustrate it via a specific tool developed in the field of traffic psychology: the Conditional Script Questionnaire (CSQ). This approach makes it possible to highlight the interactions between two systems of norms: the legal system and the social system. The implication of norms is fundamental in different processes already studied such as social influence or identity processes, and this article can be considered as an illustration of the place of norms in the field of social thinking. (shrink)
The thesis is defended that the theories of causation, time and space, and levels of reality are mutually interrelated in such a way that the difficulties internal to theories of causation and to theories of space and time can be understood better, and perhaps dealt with, in the categorial context furnished by the theory of the levels of reality. The structural condition for this development to be possible is that the first two theories be opportunely generalized.
Kant, in various parts of his treatment of causality, refers to determinism or the principle of sufficient reason as an inescapable principle. In fact, in the Second Analogy we find the elements to reconstruct a purely phenomenal determinism as a logical and tautological truth. I endeavour in this article to gather these elements into an organic theory of phenomenal causality and then show, in the third section, with a specific argument which I call the “paradox of phenomenal observation”, that (...) this phenomenal determinism is the only rational approach to causality because any logico-reductivistic approach, such as the Humean one, would destroy the temporal order and so the very possibility to talk of a causal relation. I also believe that, all things said, Kant did not achieve a much greater comprehension of the problem than Hume did, in his theory of causality, for he did not free a phenomenal approach from the impasse of reductivism as his reflections on “simultaneous causation” and “vanishing quantities” indeed show, and this I will argue in Sect. 4 of this article. (shrink)
Dynamical systems theory (DST) is gaining popularity in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Recently several authors (e.g. J.A.S. Kelso, 1995; A. Juarrero, 1999; F. Varela and E. Thompson, 2001) offered a DST approach to mental causation as an alternative for models of mental causation in the line of Jaegwon Kim (e.g. 1998). They claim that some dynamical systems exhibit a form of global to local determination or downward causation in that the large-scale, global activity of (...) the system governs or constrains local interactions. This form of downward causation is the key to the DST model of mental causation. In this paper I evaluate the DST approach to mental causation. I will argue that the main problem for current DST approaches to mental causation is that they lack a clear metaphysics. I propose one metaphysical framework (Gillett, 2002a/b/c) that might deal with this deficiency. (shrink)
Woodward’s interventionisttheory of causation is beset by a problem of circularity: the analysis of causes is in terms of interventions, and the analysis of interventions is in terms of causes. This is not in itself an argument against the correctness of the analysis. But by requiring us to have causal knowledge prior to making any judgements about causation, Woodward’s theory does make it mysterious how we can ever start acquiring causal knowledge. We present a (...) solution to this problem by showing how the interventionist notion of causation can be rationally generated from a more primitive agency notion of causation. The agency notion is easily and non-circularly applicable, but fails when we attempt to capture causal relations between non-actions. We show that the interventionist notion of causation serves as an appropriate generalisation of the agency notion. Furthermore, the causal judgements based on the latter generally remain true when rephrased in terms of the former, which allows one to use the causal knowledge gained by applying the agency notion as a basis for applying Woodward’s interventionisttheory. We then present an overview of relevant empirical evidence from developmental psychology which shows that our proposed rational reconstruction lines up neatly with the actual development of causal reasoning in children. This gives additional plausibility to our proposal. The article thus provides a solution to one of the main problems of interventionism while keeping Woodward’s analysis intact. (shrink)
The Agency and the Manipulability theory of causation, in spite of significant differences, share at least three claims. First, that manipulation – roughly, that by manipulating causes we bring about effects – is a central notion for causation; second, that such a notion of manipulation allows a reductive – i.e. general and comprehensive – account of causation; third, that this view has its forefathers in the works of Collingwood, Gasking and von Wright. This paper mainly challenges (...) the third claim and argues that the misreading of those authors leads to a more dangerous consequence: a confusion between epistemological, metaphysical and methodological issues about causation. (shrink)