In an attempt to improve upon Alexander Pruss’s work (2006, pp. 240-248), I (Weaver, 2012) have argued that if all purely contingent events could be caused and something like a Lewisian analysis of causation is true (per Lewis, 2004), then all purely contingent events have causes. I dubbed the derivation of the universality of causation the “Lewisian argument”. The Lewisian argument assumed not a few controversial metaphysical theses, particularly essentialism, an incommunicable-property view of essences (per Plantinga 2003), (...) and the idea that counterfactual dependence is necessary for causation. There are, of course, substantial objections to such theses. While I think a fight against objections to the Lewisian argument can be won, I develop, in what follows, a much more intuitive argument for the universality of causation which takes as its inspiration a result from Frederic Fitch’s work (1963) (with credit to who we now know was Alonzo Church (2009)) that if all truths are such that they are knowable, then (counter-intuitively) all truths are known. The resulting Church-Fitch proof for the universality of causation is preferable to the Lewisian argument since it rests upon far weaker formal and metaphysical assumptions than those of the Lewisian argument. (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
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.
Speculative logical theory, as provided in Hegel’s Science of Logic, consists of three main parts: the logic of being, the logic of essence, and the logic of the concept. The peculiar character of each logic’s starting-point determines the most general character of each logic’s development. The essay aims at making explicit the character of the starting-point of the third logic, the logic of the concept. This starting-point is exemplified by the category of universality. It is shown (a) that the (...) fundamental determination of this category is the harmonious unity of self-identity and full determinacy and (b) that this unity has necessarily the logical structure of “double shining.” The latter is described in detail and justification is provided as to why it is preferred from “single shining.” I conclude the paper by defending the structure of “double shining” against certain objections raised against it by F. Shick and C. Iber. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell famously argued that causation is not part of the fundamental physical description of the world, describing the notion of cause as "a relic of a bygone age." This paper assesses one of Russell’s arguments for this conclusion: the ‘Directionality Argument’, which holds that the time symmetry of fundamental physics is inconsistent with the time asymmetry of causation. We claim that the coherence and success of the Directionality Argument crucially depends on the proper interpretation of the ‘time (...) symmetry’ of fundamental physics as it appears in the argument, and offer two alternative interpretations. We argue that: (1) if ‘time symmetry’ is understood as the time-reversal invariance of physical theories, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument should be rejected; and (2) if ‘time symmetry’ is understood as the temporally bidirectional nomic dependence relations of physical laws, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument is far more plausible. We defend the second reading as continuous with Russell’s writings, and consider the consequences of the bidirectionality of nomic dependence relations in physics for the metaphysics of 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 this thesis, I give a metascientific account of causality in medicine. I begin with two historical cases of causal discovery. These are the discovery of the causation of Burkitt’s lymphoma by the Epstein-Barr virus, and of the various viral causes suggested for cervical cancer. These historical cases then support a philosophical discussion of causality in medicine. This begins with an introduction to the Russo- Williamson thesis (RWT), and discussion of a range of counter-arguments against it. Despite these, I (...) argue that the RWT is historically workable, given a small number of modifications. I then expand Russo and Williamson’s account. I first develop their suggestion that causal relationships in medicine require some kind of evidence of mechanism. I begin with a number of accounts of mechanisms and produce a range of consensus features of them. I then develop this consensus position by reference to the two historical case studies with an eye to their operational competence. In particular, I suggest that it is mechanistic models and their representations which we are concerned with in medicine, rather than the mechanism as it exists in the world. -/- I then employ these mechanistic models to give an account of the sorts of evidence used in formulating and evaluating causal claims. Again, I use the two human viral oncogenesis cases to give this account. I characterise and distinguish evidence of mechanism from evidence of difference-making, and relate this to mechanistic models. I then suggest the relationship between types of evidence presents us with a means of tackling the reference-class problem. This sets the scene for the final chapter. Here, I suggest the manner in which these two different classes of evidence become integrated is also reflected in the way that developing research programmes change as their associated causal claims develop. (shrink)
The paper takes issue with a widely accepted view of mental causation. This is the view that mental causation is either reducible to physical causation or ultimately untenable, because incompatible with the causal completeness of physics. The paper examines, first, why recent attempts to save the phenomena of mental causation by way of the notion of supervenient causation fail. The result of this examination is the claim that any attempted specification of the most basic causal (...) factors which supposedly underlie a causal transaction cannot account for the counterfactually necessary connections with the effect in question. By contrast, the specification of these factors at a higher-level would allow establishing such connections. The paper closes with a discussion of how this view of autonomous ligher-level causation grounded on counterfactual relations can be made compatible with the physicalistic commitment to a complete specification of the particular causes of any physical effect exclusively in physical terms. (shrink)
One of the most striking features of causation is that causes typically precede their effects – the causal arrow is strongly aligned with the temporal arrow. Why should this be so? We offer an opinionated guide to this problem, and to the solutions currently on offer. We conclude that the most promising strategy is to begin with the de facto asymmetry of human deliberation, characterised in epistemic terms, and to build out from there. More than any rival, this subjectivist (...) approach promises to demystify the asymmetry, temporal orientation, and deliberative relevance of causal judgements. (shrink)
The explanatory role of natural selection is one of the long-term debates in evolutionary biology. Nevertheless, the consensus has been slippery because conceptual confusions and the absence of a unified, formal causal model that integrates different explanatory scopes of natural selection. In this study we attempt to examine two questions: (i) What can the theory of natural selection explain? and (ii) Is there a causal or explanatory model that integrates all natural selection explananda? For the first question, we argue that (...) five explananda have been assigned to the theory of natural selection and that four of them may be actually considered explananda of natural selection. For the second question, we claim that a probabilistic conception of causality and the statistical relevance concept of explanation are both good models for understanding the explanatory role of natural selection. We review the biological and philosophical disputes about the explanatory role of natural selection and formalize some explananda in probabilistic terms using classical results from population genetics. Most of these explananda have been discussed in philosophical terms but some of them have been mixed up and confused. We analyze and set the limits of these problems. (shrink)
A typical thesis of contemporary materialism holds that mental properties and events supervene on, without being reducible to, physical properties and events. Many philosophers have grown skeptical about the causal efficacy of irreducibly supervenient properties, however, and one of the main reasons is an assumption about causation which Jaegwon Kim calls the causal exclusion principle. I argue here that this principle runs afoul of cases of genuine causal overdetermination.Many would argue that causal overdetermination is impossible anyway, but a careful (...) analysis of these arguments shows them to be misguided. Finally, I examine the reasons given in support of the causal exclusion principle, and I conclude that it is plausible if, and probably only if, a certain view of the nature of causation turns out to be correct. Since that view of causation is unacceptable to nonreductivists on other grounds, however, it turns out that exclusion-based arguments essentially beg the question. (shrink)
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.
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)
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)
Is the common cause principle merely one of a set of useful heuristics for discovering causal relations, or is it rather a piece of heavy duty metaphysics, capable of grounding the direction of causation itself? Since the principle was introduced in Reichenbach’s groundbreaking work The Direction of Time (1956), there have been a series of attempts to pursue the latter program—to take the probabilistic relationships constitutive of the principle of the common cause and use them to ground the direction (...) of causation. These attempts have not all explicitly appealed to the principle as originally formulated; it has also appeared in the guise of independence conditions, counterfactual overdetermination, and, in the causal modelling literature, as the causal markov condition. In this paper, I identify a set of difficulties for grounding the asymmetry of causation on the principle and its descendents. The first difficulty, concerning what I call the vertical placement of causation, consists of a tension between considerations that drive towards the macroscopic scale, and considerations that drive towards the microscopic scale—the worry is that these considerations cannot both be comfortably accommodated. The second difficulty consists of a novel potential counterexample to the principle based on the familiar Einstein Podolsky Rosen (EPR) correlations in quantum mechanics. (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)
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)
This book introduces the reader to Whitehead’s complex and often misunderstood metaphysics by showing that it deals with questions about the nature of causation originally raised by the philosophy of Leibniz. Whitehead’s philosophy is an attempt at rehabilitating Leibniz’s theory of monads by recasting it in terms of novel ontological categories.
ThomasBrown (1778-1820) was one of the tail-enders of the Scottish Enlightenment. He shared with Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) the chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1810 until his premature death in 1820. He is sometimes classed with the Scottish common-sense philosophers and, to some extent at least, his basic philosophical principles were akin to those of the common-sense philosophy. He did, for instance, forfeit the issue of the justification of some of our most basic (...) beliefs and rested them, instead, on their being intuitively irresistible; in particular, he thought that some of our most basic beliefs could be seen as permanent principles of human nature—a claim made popular by Thomas Reid. Based on his theory of the workings of the human mind—which was developed in a course of lectures on the philosophy of mind presented at the University of Edinburgh and appeared posthumously as a book titled Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind—some philosophers and psychologists have characterised him as an ‘associationist’.1 Brown’s main contribution to the philosophy of causation was his book Inquiry into the Relation of Cause and Effect, published in 1818. This is, actually, the third (substantially enlarged and developed) edition of his little book titled Observations on.. (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)
If we seek to analyse causation in terms of counterfactual conditionals then we must assume that there is a class of counterfactuals whose members (i) are all and only those we need to support our judgements of causation, (ii) have truth-conditions specifiable without any irreducible appeal to causation. I argue that (i) and (ii) are unlikely to be met by any counterfactual analysis of causation. I demonstrate this by isolating a class of counterfactuals called non-projective counterfactuals, (...) or NP-counterfactuals, and indicate how counterfactual analyses of causation must appeal to them to account for the correct causal judgements we make. I show that the truth-conditions of NP-counterfactuals are specifiable only by irreducible appeal to causation. A dilemma then holds: if counterfactual analyses of causation eschew appeal to NP-counterfactuals they are empirically inadequate, but if they appeal to NP-counterfactuals they are circular and thus conceptually inadequate. (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)
Despite the fact that the nature of the properties of causation is rarely discussed within the mental causation debate, the implicit assumption is that they are universals as opposed to tropes. However, in recent literature on the problem of mental causation, a new solution has emerged which aims to address the problem by appealing to tropes. It is argued that if the properties of causation are tropes rather than universals, then a psychophysical reductionism can be advanced (...) which does not face the problem of multiple realizability. However, the 'trope solution' rests upon the assumption that one can combine a trope monism with a type dualism. I argue that such a combination cannot be allowed. Given a plausible interpretation of types within a trope ontology, trope monism in fact entails type monism. Consequently, if one identifies mental tropes with physical tropes, one must also identify mental and physical types and in doing so face a modified version of the multiple realizability argument. (shrink)
The basic idea of counterfactual theories of causation is that the meaning of causal claims can be explained in terms of counterfactual conditionals of the form “If A had not occurred, C would not have occurred”. While counterfactual analyses have been given of type-causal concepts, most counterfactual analyses have focused on singular causal or token-causal claims of the form “event c caused event e”. Analyses of token-causation have become popular in the last thirty years, especially since the development (...) in the 1970's of possible world semantics for counterfactuals. The best known counterfactual analysis of causation is David Lewis's (1973b) theory. However, intense discussion over thirty years has cast doubt on the adequacy of any simple analysis of singular causation in terms of counterfactuals. Recent years have seen a proliferation of different refinements of the basic idea to achieve a closer match with commonsense judgements about causation. (shrink)
Questions about the metaphysics of causation may be usefully divided as follows. First, there are questions about the nature of the causal relata, including (1.1) whether they are in spacetime immanence), (1.2) how fine grained they are individuation), and (1.3) how many there are adicity). Second, there are questions about the metaphysics of the causal relation, including (2.1) what is the difference between causally related and causally unrelated sequences connection), (2.2) what is the difference between sequences related as cause (...) to effect, and those related as effect to cause or as joint effects of a common cause direction), and (2.3) what is the difference between sequences involving the cause, and those involving mere conditions selection). (shrink)
The counterfactual analysis of causation has focused on one particular counterfactual conditional, taking as its starting-point the suggestion that C causes E iff (C E). In this paper, some consequences are explored of reversing this counterfactual, and developing an account starting with the idea that C causes E iff (E C). This suggestion is discussed in relation to the problem of pre-emption. It is found that the 'reversed' counterfactual analysis can handle even the most difficult cases of pre-emption with (...) only minimal complications. The paper closes with a discussion of the wider philosophical implications of developing a reversed counterfactual analysis, especially concerning the differentiation of causes from causal conditions, causation by absences, and the extent to which causes suffice for their effects. (shrink)
In many toxic-tort cases - notably in Oxendine v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc, and in Joiner v. G.E., - plaintiffs argue that the expert testimony they wish to present, though no part of it is sufficient by itself to establish causation "by a preponderance of the evidence," is jointly sufficient to meet this standard of proof; and defendants sometimes argue in response that it is a mistake to imagine that a collection of pieces of weak evidence can be any (...) stronger than its individual components. This article draws on the epistemological theory I first presented in 1993 in Evidence and Inquiry, and then amplified and refined in 2003 in Defending Science - Within Reason. This theory of evidence shows that, under certain conditions, a combination of pieces of evidence none of which is sufficient by itself really can warrant a casual conclusion to a higher degree than any of its components alone. When my account is applied to the very complex congeries of evidence typically proffered to prove general causation in these toxic-tort cases, it improves on the influential "Bradford Hill criteria" for assessing causation; and it suggests answers to questions frequently raised in such cases: e.g., whether epidemiological evidence is essential for proof of causation, and whether such evidence should be excluded if it is not statistically significant. Moreover, the argument of this paper reveals that by obliging courts to screen each item of expert testimony individually for reliability, the atomism implicit in Daubert will sometimes stand in the way of an accurate assessment of the worth of complex causation evidence. (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.
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)
The paper criticizes the attempt to account for the direction of causation in terms of objective statistical asymmetries, such as those of the fork asymmetry. Following Ramsey, I argue that the most plausible way to account for causal asymmetry is to regard it as "put in by hand", that is as a feature that agents project onto the world. Its temporal orientation stems from that of ourselves as agents. The crucial statistical asymmetry is an anthropocentric one, namely that we (...) take our actions to be statistically independent of everything except (what we come to call) their effects. I argue that this account explains the intuitive plausibility of Reichenbach's principle of the common cause. (shrink)
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.
The conceptual relation between objective becoming and the direction of time is explored by discussing an ontologically asymmetric notion of causation. It is claimed that such a notion, in terms of which Stein defined objective becoming in Minkowski spacetime, has either a purely metaphysical status or is reducible to physical concepts. In the former case, it is adequate for Stein's purpose but irrelevant to physical theories. In the latter, the causal asymmetry can be related to irreversible physical processes only (...) in an extrinsic way. This dilemma creates additional difficulties both to a unified theory of the direction of time and to the project of making room for becoming in the physical world. (shrink)
Jewish ethics like Judaism itself has often been charged with being "particularistic," and in modernity it has been unfavorably compared with the universality of secular ethics. This charge has become acute philosophically when the comparison is made with the ethics of Kant. However, at this level, much of the ethical rejection of Jewish particularism, especially its being beholden to a God who is above the universe to whom this God prescribes moral norms and judges according to them, is also (...) a rejection of Christian (or any other monotheistic) ethics, no matter how otherwise universal. Yet this essay argues that Jewish ethics that prescribes norms for all humans, and that is knowable by all humans, actually constitutes a wider moral universe than does Kantian ethics, because it can include non-rational human objects and even non-human objects altogether. This essay also argues that a totally egalitarian moral universe, encompassing all human relations, becomes an infinite, totalizing universe, which can easily become the ideological justification (ratio essendi) of a totalitarian regime. (shrink)
Philosophers today are inclined to propose virtues are either something subjective or something universal. However, Confucius and Aristotle, who made the most profound investigations into virtues, did not develop such theses. The deep-seated reason lies in their belief that there is always a possibility for a human being to become a man of practice, which cancels the need of proposing subjectivity thesis. The reason for their not raising the universality thesis of virtues is that they do not think that (...) virtues are directly universal to all contemporarily existing minds. Rather, in their view, virtues involve a possible universality that may present in a virtuous mind. We can summarize Aristotle’s view into the concept of possible universality of virtue understood in terms of the perfect state of mind, since he explains the perfect state of mind in terms of perfect state of activity, and makes his investigations with an eye to the interactions between people with similar states of virtues. The view of Confucius can be summarized into the concept of possible universality of virtue understood in terms of the history of mind, since his investigations are made from the point of view of the states of mind reached through virtuous practices, i.e., a historical process of human life in which one’s pre-dispositions and feelings gradually reach some state of natural harmony and gains continual enrichment, and with an eye to the interactions between virtuous people and common people. From that similarly expressed view we can reasonably infer that virtues do possess the character called by today’s philosophers as universality, but it is a possible universality whose possibility is based on practice and on the development of virtuous minds. (shrink)
I argue that 'c' occurs extensionally in 'c caused e' and 'D' occurs extensionally in 'c caused e because c is D'. I claim that this has been insufficiently appreciated because the two contexts are often run together and because it has not been clear that the description D of c is among the referents of an explanatory argument. I argue as well that Hume's analysis of causation is consistent with taking causation to be a relation between single (...) events, and that even if events are eliminated as virtual entities, extensionality holds for all terms in the resulting context. (shrink)
Recent philosophical studies of probabilistic causation and statistical explanation have opened up the possibility of unifying philosophical approaches with causal modeling as practiced in the social and biological sciences. This unification rests upon the statistical tools employed, the principle of common cause, the irreducibility of causation to statistics, and the idea of causal process as a suitable framework for understanding causal relationships. These four areas of contact are discussed with emphasis on the relevant aspects of causal modeling.
We argue in favor of merely disjunctive effects, namely cases in which an event or fact, C, is not a cause of an effect, E1, and is also not a cause of a distinct effect, E2, and yet C is a cause of the disjunctive effect (E1 or E2). Disjunctive effects let us retain the additivity and the distributivity of causation. According to additivity, if C is a cause of E1 and C is a cause of E2, then C (...) is a cause of E1 and E2. According to distributivity, if C is a cause of E1 and E2, then C is a cause of E1 and C is a cause of E2. We draw an analogy between causation and intensional notions like believing, wanting, and owing, which also admit of merely disjunctive cases. We argue that both the Lewisian counterfactual account of causation (including its recent emendation by Sartorio) and the contrastive account of causation fail to properly account for this phenomenon. 1 Introduction2 Believing, Wanting, and Owing3 Logical Features of the Counterfactual Account of Causation4 Merely Disjunctive Effects5 Additivity6 Unqualified and Contrastive Causation7 Distributivity8 An Action Case9 Conclusion. (shrink)
Transference theorists propose to explain causation in terms of the transference of a physical element. I argue, in two steps, that this is not possible. First, I show that available accounts of ‘transference’ ultimately convey that transference -and, consequently, causation- is the (non-relational) identity over time of the transferred element (a universal, a trope, or even an absolute substance). But, second, I try to defend, it is conceptually impossible that causation is (non-relational) identity.
Transference theorists propose to explain causation in terms of the transference of a physical element. I argue, in two steps, that this is not possible. First, I show that available accounts of ‘transference’ ultimately convey that transference -and, consequently, causation- is the (non-relational) identity over time of the transferred element (a universal, a trope, or even an absolute substance). But, second, I try to defend, it is conceptually impossible that causation is (non-relational) identity.
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)
In my article I evaluate Searle's account of mental causation, in particular his account of the causal efficacy of unconscious intentional states. I argue that top-down causation and overdetermination are unsolved problems in Searle's philosophy of mind, despite his assurances to the contrary. I also argue that there are conflicting claims involved in his account of mental causation and his account of the unconscious. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand how unconscious intentional states can be (...) causally efficacious. My conclusion will be that if Searle's conception of unconscious intentionality is to play a genuine role in the causal explanation of human action, it needs to be rethought. (shrink)
The starting point in the development of probabilistic analyses of token causation has usually been the naïve intuition that, in some relevant sense, a cause raises the probability of its effect. But there are well-known examples both of non-probability-raising causation and of probability-raising non-causation. Sophisticated extant probabilistic analyses treat many such cases correctly, but only at the cost of excluding the possibilities of direct non-probability-raising causation, failures of causal transitivity, action-at-a-distance, prevention, and causation by absence (...) and omission. I show that an examination of the structure of these problem cases suggests a different treatment, one which avoids the costs of extant probabilistic analyses. (shrink)
This paper examines a promising probabilistic theory of singular causation developed by David Lewis. I argue that Lewis' theory must be made more sophisticated to deal with certain counterexamples involving pre-emption. These counterexamples appear to show that in the usual case singular causation requires an unbroken causal process to link cause with effect. I propose a new probabilistic account of singular causation, within the framework developed by Lewis, which captures this intuition.
Various senses in which laws of nature are supposed to be "universal" are distinguished. Conditions designed to capture the content of the more important of these senses are proposed and the relations among these conditions are examined. The status of universality requirements is briefly discussed.
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.
The traditional tripartite and tetrapartite analyses describe the conceptual components of propositional knowledge from a universal epistemic point of view. According to the classical analysis, since truth is a necessary condition of knowledge, it does not make sense to talk about “false knowledge” or “knowing wrongly.” There are nonetheless some natural languages in which speakers ordinarily make statements about a person’s knowing a given subject matter wrongly. In this paper, we first provide a brief analysis of “knowing wrongly” in Turkish. (...) Then, taking Allan Hazlett’s recent account of the gap between traditional analyses of knowledge and actual epistemic practices of real cognitive agents as a point of departure, we spell out a non-universalist and non-extensionalist perspective on the value of “knowing wrongly.”. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the problem of mental causation can be solved by distinguishing between classificatory mental properties, like being a pain, and instances of those properties.Antireductive physicalism allows only that the former be irreducibly mental. Consequently, properties like being a pain cannot have causal commerce with the physical without violating causal closure. But instances of painfulness, according to the token identity thesis, are identical with various physical tokens and can therefore have causal efficacy in the physical (...) world. Since we expect particular mental phenomena, not types or classes of mental phenomena to be involved in causal interactions, it is argued that antireductive physicalism can explain satisfactorily mental causation, despite the protests of Kim, Sosa, Honderich, and others. Being a mental state of a certain sort may have no causal efficacy, but the intentional and phenomenal properties of such states should, if my argument is correct. (shrink)
Abstract Lawrence Kohlberg's theory postulates a universal model of moral development. According to Kohlberg's cognitive?development theory, moral judgement represents underlying thought organisation rather than specific responses. Although the specific content of moral judgement may vary among cultures, the basic structures are said to be universal. Our cross?sectional study has been undertaken to test the validity of Kohlberg's measure in a Polish sample. The data were gathered between 1985?87. The sample includes 291 men and women, 15?80 years of age. This paper (...) presents the results of the Polish study, which generally support Kohlberg's claim of cross?cultural universality. (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.
A number of writers have suggested that laws of nature must be universal in space and time. Just what this claim amounts to is the focus of the present study. I consider and compare a number of interpretations of the requirement, with especial reference to an example by Tooley which seems paradigmatic of the antithesis of universality in space and time. I also sketch a number of other concepts of "local", "global", and "universal", each of which should (...) be kept distinct from "universality in space and time". I leave open the issue whether or not laws must satisfy any of the requirements. (shrink)
The paper argues for four claims: (1) The problem of mental causation and the argument for its solution in terms of the identity of mental with physical causes are independent of the theory of causation one favours. (2) If one considers our experience of agency as described by folk psychology to be veridical, one is committed to an anti-Humean metaphysics of causation in terms of powers that establish necessary connections. The same goes for functional properties in general. (...) (3) A metaphysics of causation in terms of powers is compatible with physics. (4) If combined with the argument for mental causes being identical with physical causes, that metaphysics leads to a conservative reductionism. (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)
Here is a simple counterexample to David Lewis’s causal influence account of causation, one that is especially illuminating due to its connection to what Lewis himself writes: it is a variant of his trumping example.
In this paper I offer an analysis of causation based upon a theory of mechanisms-complex systems whose internal parts interact to produce a system's external behavior. I argue that all but the fundamental laws of physics can be explained by reference to mechanisms. Mechanisms provide an epistemologically unproblematic way to explain the necessity which is often taken to distinguish laws from other generalizations. This account of necessity leads to a theory of causation according to which events are causally (...) related when there is a mechanism that connects them. I present reasons why the lack of an account of fundamental physical causation does not undermine the mechanical account. (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)
The primary aim of this paper is to analyze the concept of degrees of causal contribution for actual events and examine the way in which it can be formally defined. This should go some way to filling out a gap in the legal and philosophical literature on causation. By adopting the conception of a cause as a necessary element of a sufficient set (the so-called NESS test) we show that the concept of degrees of causation can be given (...) clear and even empirical meaning. We then apply a game theoretical framework to derive a measure of causal contribution. Our favoured measure turns out to be a generalised version of the normalized Penrose–Banzhaf index of voting power. (shrink)
The Facts of Causation grapples with one of philosophy's most enduring issues. Causation is central to all of our lives. What we see and hear causes us to believe certain facts about the world. We need that information to know how to act and how to cause the effects we desire. D. H. Mellor, a leading scholar in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, offers a comprehensive theory of causation. (...) class='Hi'> Many questions about causation remain unsettled. In science, the indeterminism of modern physics and genetics have made such questions considerably harder for philosophers to answer. While progress has been made, a complete account of the nature and cosequences of causation is long overdue. This major study provides that account. (shrink)
This paper reexamines the case for a proportionality constraint on causation. The general idea behind the proportionality constraint is that causes need the right amount of detail. The cause needs to be detailed enough to be sufficient for the effect yet general enough to be fully relevant to the effect. The case for the proportionality constraint mainly rests on some examples. Suppose we are searching for the cause of an injury: “being hit by a red bus” is too detailed, (...) “being hit” isn't detailed enough, but “being hit by a bus” is about right. This sort of example has undeniable intuitive appeal. However, this intuitive appeal needs to be examined with more care before jumping to conclusions about the metaphysics of causation and the mereology of causal relata. Here, I reexamine the case for a proportionality constraint on causation and compare several pragmatic explanations of our intuitions about Yablo’s examples, in particular a pragmatic explanation that notices the loose use in our naming of causal relata and a pragmatic explanation that appeals to a contrastivist account of causation. (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)
On David Lewis's original analysis of causation, c causes e only if c is linked to e by a chain of distinct events such that each event in the chain (counter-factually) depends on the former one. But this requirement precludes the possibility of late pre-emptive causation, of causation by fragile events, and of indeterministic causation. Lewis proposes three different strategies for accommodating these three kinds of cases, but none of these turn out to be satisfactory. I (...) offer a single analysis of causation that resolves these problems in one go but which respects Lewis's initial insights. One distinctive feature of my account is that it accommodates indeterministic causation without resorting to probabilities. (shrink)
Spinoza is most often seen as a stern advocate of mechanistic efficient causation, but examining his philosophy in relation to the Aristotelian tradition reveals this view to be misleading: some key passages of the Ethics resemble so much what Surez writes about emanation that it is most natural to situate Spinoza's theory of causation not in the context of the mechanical sciences but in that of a late scholastic doctrine of the emanative causality of the formal cause; as (...) taking a look at the seventeenth-century philosophy of mathematics reveals, this is in consonance also with Spinoza's geometrical cast of mind. Against this background, I examine Spinoza's essentialist model of causation according to which each thing has a formal character determined by the thing's essence and what follows from that essence. In the case of real things this essential causal architecture results in efficacy, i.e. in bringing about real effects, the key idea being that without the essential, formally structured causal thrust there would be no efficacy in the first place. I also explain how this model accounts for efficient causation taking place between finite things. (shrink)
There are certain logical abilities that any rational creature must have. I call this thesis the Universality of Logic (UL). Something like UL is presupposed in Quinean and Davidsonian uses of the Principle of Charity. Their arguments for the Principle of Charity might be thought of as top−down arguments, establishing UL on the basis of very general considerations about meaning and belief. In this paper, I intend to argue for UL constructively, from the bottom up, as it were, by (...) showing just why and how rationality demands certain specific logical abilities. I shall begin by looking at two sources of opposition to UL, in order to locate it better in the current philosophical landscape and underline the interest and importance of the thesis. Next, I shall deal with important methodological issues surrounding my arguments for UL. This will involve addressing such questions as: what is a rational creature?; and, what are logical abilities? As a result, we will be led to a certain weakening of UL. Then, I shall argue for the weakened version of UL constructively, by demonstrating the universality of certain particular logical abilities. Finally, I shall examine some of the consequences of UL for other areas of philosophy. (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)
Empiricists have sought to follow Hume in claiming that causality is a relation between events reducible to something more basic, e.g., regularities or counterfactuals. But all such attempts fail through their inability to distinguish cause from effect. The alternative is that causation is irreducible. Regularities are evidence of causation but do not constitute it. We understand what causation is through performing intentional actions which necessarily involve trying, which in turn just is exercising causal power.
In this paper I will discuss Kims powerful explanatory exclusion argument against the causal efficacy of mental properties. Baker and Burge misconstrue Kims challenge if they understand it as being based on a purely metaphysical understanding of causation that has no grounding in an epistemological analysis of our successful scientific practices. As I will show, the emphasis on explanatory practices can only be effective in answering Kim if it is understood as being part of the dual-explanandum strategy. Furthermore, a (...) fundamental problem of the contemporary debate about mental causation consists in the fact that all sides take very different examples to be paradigmatic for the relation between psychological and neurobiological explanations. Even if we should expect some alignment in the explanatory scope of neurobiology and psychology/folk-psychology, there is no reason to expect that all mental explanations are exempted by physical explanations, since they do not in general explain the same phenomena. (shrink)
We commonly distinguish causes from mere conditions, for example by saying that the strike caused the match to light but by failing to mention the presence of oxygen. Philosophers from Mill to Lewis have dismissed this common practice as irrelevant to the philosophical analysis of causation. In this paper, however, I argue that causal selection poses a puzzle of just the same form as Hume's sceptical challenge to the notion of necessary connection. I then propose a solution in terms (...) of a simple counterfactual. (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.".
Philosophical accounts of causation have traditionally been framed as attempts to analyze the concept of a cause. In recent years, however, a number of philosophers have proposed instead that causation be empirically reduced to some relation uncovered by the natural sciences: e.g., a relation of energy transfer. This paper argues that the project of empirical analysis lacks a clearly defined methodology, leaving it uncertain how such views are to be evaluated. It proposes several possible accounts of empirical analysis (...) and argues that the most promising approach would treat it as a contingent identity discovered by identifying the relation (or relations) that most nearly approximate the inferential role of causal concepts in a psychological theory of causal judgment. (shrink)
A definition of causation as probability-raising is threatened by two kinds of counterexample: first, when a cause lowers the probability of its effect; and second, when the probability of an effect is raised by a non-cause. In this paper, I present an account that deals successfully with problem cases of both these kinds. In doing so, I also explore some novel implications of incorporating into the metaphysical investigation considerations of causal psychology.
One way of assessing the philosophical literature on causation is to consider views on the nature of the causal relation. Early theorists were 'monists', taking there to be one causal relation. More recent theorists, however, have turned to pluralism, which holds that the causal relation is only accurately captured by two (or more) relations. I argue that one way of being a pluralist – the way which takes there to be exactly two types of causation – is self (...) defeating, if it promises to handle intuitions about all causal situations. I illustrate the point via neuron diagrams. (shrink)
Stephen Yablo has recently argued for a novel solution to the mental causation problem: the mental is related to the physical as determinables are related to determinates; determinables are not causal rivals with their determinates; so the mental and the physical are not causal rivals. Despite its attractions the suggestion seems hard to accept. In this paper I develop the idea that mental properties and physical properties are not causal rivals. Start with property dualism, supervenience, multiple realizability, and the (...) claim that no more than one supervenience base for a mental property can be had by a single instance of the mental property. Then a probabilistic account of causation will be unable to certify either mental properties or physical properties as causal factors for effect types. I suggest that this shows that we should not count mental properties as causal rivals with physical properties. (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)
Counterfactual analyses of causation can provide elegant analyses of many cases of causation. However, they fail to give intuitively correct analyses of cases involving a commonplace variety of late preemptive causation. I argue that a small emendation can solve the problem.
Two proposals for a physicalistic analysis of causation — the so-called transference model and an account given by J. L. Mackie — are examined and found wanting on the score of physical objectivity. This shortcoming can be remedied, but it is further argued that both proposals embody a too restricted conception of what a physicalistic analysis of causation should be. A more general program is proposed.
Conceptual analyses can be subdivided into two classes, good and evil. Em- pirical analysis is the good kind, routinely practiced in the sciences. Orthodox analysis is the malevolent version that plagues philosophical discourse. In this paper, I will clarify the difference between them, provide some reasons to prefer good over evil, and illustrate their consequences for the metaphysics of causation. By conducting an empirical analysis of causation rather than an orthodox analysis, one can segregate the genuine metaphysical problems (...) that need to be addressed from the many pseudo-problems that have long dogged traditional accounts of causation. (shrink)
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)
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 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.
The need to find an intrinsic characterization of what makes a relation between events causal arises not only in local theories of causation like Salmon's process theory but also in global approaches like Lewis' counterfactual theory. According to the localist intuition, whether a process connecting two events is causal should depend only on what goes on between the events, not on conditions that hold elsewhere in the world. If such intrinsic characterizations could be found, an identification of the causal (...) relation in the actual world (though not in other possible worlds) with physical processes may be feasible (the a posteriori identification). I consider recent proposals made for intrinsic characterizations of causality and conclude that none of them is able to deliver the intended result. (shrink)
According to common judicial standard, judgment in favor ofplaintiff should be made if and only if it is more probable than not thatthe defendant''s action was the cause for the plaintiff''s damage (or death). This paper provides formal semantics, based on structural models ofcounterfactuals, for the probability that event x was a necessary orsufficient cause (or both) of another event y. The paper then explicates conditions under which the probability of necessary (or sufficient)causation can be learned from statistical data, (...) and shows how data fromboth experimental and nonexperimental studies can be combined to yieldinformation that neither study alone can provide. Finally, we show thatnecessity and sufficiency are two independent aspects of causation, andthat both should be invoked in the construction of causal explanations for specific scenarios. (shrink)
In a recent paper Causal Asymmetry, Douglas Ehring has proposed an intriguing solution to the vexing problem of causal asymmetry. The aim of this paper is to show that his theory is not satisfactory. Moreover, the examples that I use in showing the defect of Ehring's theory also indicate that the counterfactual analysis of causation has a problem that cannot be remedied by Marshall Swain's suggested refinement of the counterfactual analysis of causation in Causation and Distinct Events.
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.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Latham defends the following argument against problems that putatively arise for mental causation: 1. A problem for mental causation arises for a conception of causation only if it attributes a causal role to physical but not mental entities.
In this paper we show that some standard topological constructions may be fruitfully used in the theory of closure spaces (see , ). These possibilities are exemplified by the classical theorem on the universality of the Alexandroff's cube for T 0-closure spaces. It turns out that the closure space of all filters in the lattice of all subsets forms a generalized Alexandroff's cube that is universal for T 0-closure spaces. By this theorem we obtain the following characterization of the (...) consequence operator of the classical logic: If is a countable set and C: P() P() is a closure operator on X, then C satisfies the compactness theorem iff the closure space ,C is homeomorphically embeddable in the closure space of the consequence operator of the classical logic.We also prove that for every closure space X with a countable base such that the cardinality of X is not greater than 2 there exists a subset X of irrationals and a subset X of the Cantor's set such that X is both a continuous image of X and a continuous image of X. (shrink)
This essay seeks to demonstrate that there are no compelling reasons to exclude non-Western artefacts from the domain of art. Any theory of art must therefore account for the universality of the concept of art. It cannot simply start from ‘our’ art traditions and extend these conceptions to other cultures, since this would imply cultural appropriation, nor can it resolve the matter simply by formulating separate criteria for non-Western art, since this would imply that there is no unity in (...) the concept of art. At first sight, cluster theories of art seem capable of accounting for the universality of art since they (can) start from a broad cross-cultural range of artworks and nowhere seem to extend one conception of art to other conceptions. Yet cluster theories remain unsatisfactory, because they can neither avoid misapplication of the proposed criteria, nor clarify the unity in the concept of art. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar's argument rejecting the “explanatory sufficiency” of the radical neuron doctrine depends on distinguishing it from the trivial neuron doctrine. This distinction depends on the thesis of “supervenience,” which depends on Hume's regularity theory of causation. In contrast, the radical neuron doctrine depends on a physical theory of causation, which denies the supervenience thesis. Insofar as the target article argues by drawing implications from the premise of Humean causation, whereas the radical doctrine depends on the (...) competing premise of physical causation, the resulting critique of the neuron doctrine amounts largely to begging the question of causation. (shrink)
According to nomological accounts of causation causal connections among events or states must be mediated by contingent laws of nature. Three types of causal connection are cited and discussed in opposition to such nomological accounts: (a) material causation (as when a zygote is generated by the union of an ovum and a sperm); (b) consequentialist causation (as when an apple is chromatically colored as a result of being red); (c) inclusive causation (as when a board is (...) on a stump in consequence of its having been placed there by a carpenter). These are all source-consequence relations or result-yielding relations and they are all cases of necessitation, each with its own distinguishing features. (shrink)
Non-Cartesian substance dualism (NCSD) maintains that persons or selves are distinct from their organic physical bodies and any parts of those bodies. It regards persons as ‘substances’ in their own right, but does not maintain that persons are necessarily separable from their bodies, in the sense of being capable of disembodied existence. In this paper, it is urged that NCSD is better equipped than either Cartesian dualism or standard forms of physicalism to explain the possibility of mental (...) class='Hi'>causation. A model of mental causation adopting the NCSD perspective is proposed which, it is argued, is consistent with all that is currently known about the operations of the human central nervous system, including the brain. Physicalism, by contrast, seems ill-equipped to explain the distinctively intentional or teleological character of mental causation, because it effectively reduces all such causation to ‘blind’ physical causation at a neurological level. (shrink)
Weak emergence has been offered as an explication of the ubiquitous notion of emergence used in complexity science (Bedau 1997). After outlining the problem of emergence and comparing weak emergence with the two other main objectivist approaches to emergence, this paper explains a version of weak emergence and illustrates it with cellular automata. Then it explains the sort of downward causation and explanatory autonomy involved in weak emergence.
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument 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 causal argument 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 causal argument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)