Theories of singularcausation have a genuine problem with properties. In virtue of what property do events (or facts) cause other events? One possible answer to this question, Davidson’s, is that causal relations hold between particulars and properties play no role in the way a particular causes another. According to another, recently fashionable answer, in contrast, events cause other events in virtue of having a trope (as opposed to a property-type). Both views face serious objections. My aim in (...) this paper is to combine these two very different solutions to the problem of the properties of singularcausation and to argue that this combined view can avoid objections against both of them. (shrink)
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.
For at least three decades, philosophers have argued that general causation and causal explanation are contrastive in nature. When we seek a causal explanation of some particular event, we are usually interested in knowing why that event happened rather than some other specified event. And general causal claims, which state that certain event types cause certain other event types, seem to make sense only if appropriate contrasts to the types of events acting as cause and effect are specified. In (...) recent years, philosophers have extended the contrastive theory of causation to encompass singularcausation as well. In this article, I argue that this extension of the theory was a mistake. Although general causation and causal explanation may well be contrastive in nature, singularcausation is not. (shrink)
Humean accounts of law are at the same time accounts of causation. Accordingly, since laws are nothing but contingent cosmic regularities, to be a cause is just to be an instance of such a law. Every particular cause-effect pair, according to these accounts, instantiates some law of nature. I argue that this claim is false. Singularcausation without being governed by any law is logically and physically possible. Separating causes from laws enables us to see the distinct (...) role each plays in science, especially in matters related to prediction and explanation. (shrink)
Singularcausation may be best understood within a dispositionalist framework. Although the details of just how a claim that this is in fact the case have not yet been fully worked out, different philosophers have made some positive contributions in this direction. In opposition to such suggestions, I claim that any possible account of singularcausation in terms of real, irreducible, dispositions contains unresolvable flaws in its metaphysical foundations.First, I present two main constituents that I take (...) to be necessary for any possible dispositional account of singularcausation: (i) the possibility of causation without laws, which is a necessary condition for causal singularism, and (ii) a conception of dispositions as real, irreducible entities or properties. This results in aminimal dispositionalist view of singularcausation. Second, I argue that, even if minimal, this view already has to face up to serious difficulties: (i) an ontological problem concerning the individuating conditions for dispositions in causal contexts, (ii) an instance of infinite regress, (iii) the loss of the relational character ofcausation and, as a corollary, (iv) the loss of the asymmetry of causation. Third, I argue that dispositionalists tend to misrepresent causal modality when proposing and solving a modal choice between Humeanism and dispositionalism that is becoming commonplace but which, I claim, is in fact a false choice. Finally, Isketch a possible picture of causality without laws and without dispositions. (shrink)
I want to make sense of the view that singularcausation involves a metaphysical necessary connection. By this I understand, where A and B are particulars, that ifA causes B then in every possible world in which A (or an A-indiscernible) or B (or a B-indiscernible) occurs, A (or an Aindiscernible) and B (or a B-indiscernible) occur. In the singularist approach that I will favour causal facts do not supervene on laws, causal relata are best understood as tropes, (...)causation is founded on the nature of its terms, and the necessity thus involved does not entail essentialism, determinism, and other usual problems. (shrink)
Is singularcausation best understood within a dispositionalist framework? Although a positive answer has not yet been wholly developed, different philosophers have made some positive contributions suggesting that it is. Against these suggestions, I claim that any possible account of singularcausation in terms of real, irreducible, dispositions conveys unsolvable flaws in its very metaphysical foundations.
Abstract In this paper I offer an anti-Humean interpretation of the causal interactions in somatic medicine. I focus on life-threatening pathological states and show how Nancy Cartwright’s capacities can offer a plausible epistemology for medical processes and the singular causal claims advanced in medical diagnoses. I argue that the capacities manifested in the emergence of symptoms and signs could be tracked down if healthy organisms are construed as nomological machines and suggest that the causal reasoning from current medical practice (...) bears a tacit adherence to anti-Humean assumptions. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-28 DOI 10.1007/s12136-011-0141-1 Authors Stefan Dragulinescu, Drumul Taberei 20, Bucharest, Romania Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150. (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.
Die philosophische Kausaldebatte hat in den vergangenen vier Jahrzehnten eine neue Blüte erlebt. Kontrafaktische, interventionistische, mechanistische und transfertheoretische Ansätze haben sich neben den bislang dominierenden Regularitätstheorien etabliert. Vertreter aller dieser Ansätze sehen sich jedoch mit Gegenbeispielen konfrontiert, keine Theorie scheint allen unseren intuitiven Kausalurteilen gerecht werden zu können. Dieses Buch führt anhand ausgewählter Beispiele in die aktuelle Debatte ein und liefert eine Erklärung für die derzeitige Patt-Situation. Der Grund dafür, dass sich zu jedem Ansatz offenbar mühelos Gegenbeispiele finden lassen, liegt, (...) so zeigt die Autorin, in einer bislang unbemerkten Mehrdeutigkeit des Ausdrucks »kausaler Zusammenhang«. Wer danach fragt, was ein kausaler Zusammenhang sei, kann damit entweder einen konkreten Vorgang – Verursachung – oder einen Zusammenhang zwischen zwei Tatsachen – kausale Relevanz – meinen. Der Unterschied zwischen diesen beiden Begriffen wird mit Hilfe einer sprachphilosophischen Analyse singulärer Kausalaussagen belegt und auf zwei verschiedene Zugänge zu kausalen Zusammenhängen – Kausalwahrnehmung und kausales Schließen – zurückgeführt. (shrink)
This paper examines a promising probabilistic theory of singularcausation 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 singularcausation requires an unbroken causal process to link cause with effect. I propose a new probabilistic account of singularcausation, within the framework developed by Lewis, which captures this intuition.
Causality in the abstract is a grand theme. We take it up when we want to penetrate to the bottom of things to understand general laws that govern the working at the world of the deepest and most detailed level.In this essay, I argue for a more situated understanding of causality. To counter our desire for ever greater generality, I suggest that causal relations, even those that hold only on average, require context. To counter our desire for ever greater detail, (...) I suggest that causal relations may exist only at a certain level of granularity. (shrink)
Explanation is usually taken to be a relation between certain entities. The aim of this paper is to discuss what entities are suitable as explanatory relata of singular causal explanations, i.e., explanations concerning singular causality relating particular events or other appropriate entities. I outline three different positions. The purely causal approach stipulates that the same entities that are related in the singular causal relation are also linked by the explanatory relation. This position, however, has a problem to (...) distinguish between causation and explanation, two distinct relations allegedly obtaining between the same entities. The linguistic approach states that explanatory relata are linguistic entities of some sort, e.g., statements, propositions, etc. There are various versions of this position. I deal with two of them and try to show that they are unsatisfactory because they transform explanation into some other type of relation. On the first version, explanation is very close to interpretation or clarification of intension and on the second version it seems to be indistinguishable from an evidential relation or justification. I consider these transformations in understanding explanation unnecessary, and consequently reject linguistic views of explanatory relata. The most promising proposal concerning explanatory relata seems to be the mixed view, according to which propositions explain events or other fitting extra-linguistic entities. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to apply inductive logic to the field that, presumably, Carnap never expected: legal causation. Legal causation is expressible in the form of singular causal statements; but it is distinguished from the customary concept of scientific causation, because it is subjective. We try to express this subjectivity within the system of inductive logic. Further, by semantic complement, we compensate a defect found in our application, to be concrete, the impossibility of two-place (...) predicates (for causal relationship) in inductive logic. (shrink)
Counterfactual conditionals have been appealed to in various ways to show how the mind can be causally efficacious. However, it has often been overestimated what the truth of certain counterfactuals actually indicates about causation. The paper first identifies four approaches that seem to commit precisely this mistake. The arguments discussed involve erroneous assumptions about the connection of counterfactual dependence and genuine causation, as well as a disregard of the requisite evaluation conditions of counterfactuals. In a second step, the (...) paper uses the insights of the foregoing analyses to formulate a set of counterfactuals-based conditions that are characterized as sufficient to establish singular causal claims. The paper concludes that there are ample reasons to believe that some mental events satisfy all these conditions with respect to certain further events and, hence, that mental events sometimes are causes. (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 singularcausation 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)
In this paper I offer an 'integrating account' of singularcausation, 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 singularcausation 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 object of this paper is to offer a conception of singular causality that lies between two main views in the literature, which I take to be paradigmatically represented by David Armstrong (1997) and by Michael Tooley (1987, 1990) respectively. Armstrong maintains that there is singularcausation wherever there are singular facts that instantiate causal laws; these facts are otherwise independent regularities. Tooley maintains that singularcausation is independent of causal laws together with any (...) other non-causal fact. My own view is that Armstrong’s account is too weak to conform a singularist position, as in his view singular causal relations are finally dependent on universal causation. On the other hand, Tooley’s account is too strong to be causal, as causation dissolves into a purely external and mysterious connection that is not even Humean -not even regularities play a role in its establishment. I want to maintain that there exists a middle way that correctly characterizes the spirit of singularcausation, and that can be stated by (CS): (CS) Singular causality is metaphysically independent of universal causality. Neither Tooley nor Armstrong would admit (CS) as an appropriate defining thesis for causal singularism. In what follows, I consider different causal situations existing in the literature, with the purpose of analysing singularcausation, arguing against Tooley and Armstrong's views, and defending (CS) instead. If my reasons are accepted, Armstrong’s position, rather than being singular in spirit, results into a form of causal universalism. I will also reject Tooley’s singularism as an extreme counterintuitive form of hyperrealism. Some consequences for causation are immediate. In particular, that singular causal relations are tropes, i.e., individual relations. (shrink)
Mellor's subject is singularcausation between facts, expressed ‘E because C’. His central requirement for causation is that the chance that E if C be greater than the chance that E if C: chc(E)>chc(E). The book is as much about chance as it is about causation. I show that his way of distinguishing chc (E) from the traditional notion of conditional chance leaves than him with a problem about the existence of chQ(P) when Q is false (...) (Section 3); and also that any notion of chance which conforms to the standard calculus has wider application than the causal instances to which Mellor's notion is restricted (Section 8). Other topics discussed may be gleaned from the headings below. 1 Review of D.H. Mellor : The Facss of Causation, London, Routledge, International Library of Philosophy. (shrink)
We provide a formally rigorous framework for integrating singularcausation, as understood by Nuel Belnap's theory of causae causantes, and objective single case probabilities. The central notion is that of a causal probability space whose sample space consists of causal alternatives. Such a probability space is generally not isomorphic to a product space. We give a causally motivated statement of the Markov condition and an analysis of the concept of screening-off. Causal dependencies and probabilities 1.1 Background: causation (...) in branching space-times 1.2 What are probabilities defined for? Basic transitions 2.1 Basics of basic transitions 2.2 Sets of basic transitions Causal probability theory 3.1 Some simple cases 3.2 General causal probabilities 3.3 Application: probability of suprema of a chain. (shrink)
Many candidates have been tried out as proximate causes of actions: belief-desire pairs, volitions, motives, intentions, and other kinds of pro-attitudes. None of these mental states or events, however, seems to be able to do the trick, that is, to get things going. Each of them may occur without an appropriate action ensuing. After reviewing several attempts at closing the alleged “causal gap”, it is argued that on a correct analysis, there is no missing link waiting to be discovered. On (...) the counterfactual account of singularcausation, the onset of belief or desire may perfectly well cause an action, although no kind of mental antecedent is ever a causally sufficient condition for a specific kind of action to occur. (shrink)
The traditional model and the contextual unanimity model are two probabilistic accounts of general causation subject to many well-known problems; e.g. cases of epiphenomena, causes raising their own probability, effects raising the probability of the cause, et cetera. After reviewing these problems and raising a new problem for the two models, I suggest the beginnings of an alternative probabilistic account. My suggestion avoids the problems encountered by earlier models, in large part, by an appeal to singularcausation.
In this paper I argue that causation is an essentially macroscopic phenomenon, and that mental causes are therefore capable of outcompeting their more specific physical realizers as causes of physical effects. But I also argue that any causes must be type-identical with physical properties, on pain of positing inexplicable physical conspiracies. I therefore allow macroscopic mental causation, but only when it is physically reducible.
My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mental causation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mental causation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where physical reality (...) consists of a network of events.1 The second concerns the nature of causation, and the third concerns the conception of behavior. I try to vindicate a robust idea of mental causation. (shrink)
I defend what may loosely be called an eliminativist account of causation by showing how several of the main features of causation, namely asymmetry, transitivity, and necessitation (or sometimes probability-raising), arise from the combination of fundamental dynamical laws and a special constraint on the macroscopic structure of matter in the past. At the microscopic level, the causal features of necessitation and transitivity are grounded, but not the asymmetry. At the coarse-grained level of the macroscopic physics, the causal asymmetry (...) is grounded, but not the necessitation or transitivity. Thus, at no single level of description does the physics justify the conditions that are taken to be constitutive of causation. Nevertheless, if we mix our reasoning about the microscopic and macroscopic descriptions, the structure provided by the dynamics and special initial conditions can justify the folk concept of causation to a significant extent. I explain why our causal concept works so well even though at bottom it is comprised of a patchwork of principles that don't mesh well. (shrink)
Thought experiments are ubiquitous in science and especially prominent in domains in which experimental and observational evidence is scarce. One such domain is the causal analysis of singular events in history. A long‐standing tradition that goes back to Max Weber addresses the issue by means of ‘what‐if’ counterfactuals. In this paper I give a descriptive account of this widely used method and argue that historians following it examine difference makers rather than causes in the philosopher’s sense. While difference making (...) is neither necessary nor sufficient for causation, to establish difference makers is more consistent with the historians’ more ultimate purposes. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Erasmus University, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Omissions are sometimes linked to responsibility. A harm can counterfactually depend on an omission to prevent it. If someone had the ability to prevent a harm but didn’t, this could suffice to ground their responsibility for the harm. We present an argument for this based on the WGPCGR-thesis: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. -/- We argue, with reference to Moore’s account in Causation and Responsibility (Moore 2009), that moral and legal responsibility is based on the power we have (...) as causal agents, but not on causation as such. Specifically, we contend that an agent can be held responsible for an act only under certain modal conditions: if it was within their power to act but also not to act. This is a modality that is less than necessity but also more than pure contingency. It allows agents to be responsible causally for some effect when it was their action that produced it, and that agents might be responsible for something non-causally when they had the power to prevent it and failed to do so. We also maintain that agents could be non-causally responsible for something if their action was a sine qua non for something else. We conclude that allocation of moral and legal responsibility is governed by three principles: -/- a. Without the ability to do x, but also to prevent x, one cannot be responsible for doing x. b. With the ability to do x, one can (but need not necessarily) have a responsibility to do x. c. The more able one is to do x, if one should do x, then the greater the responsibility to do x. (shrink)
Causality is a concept which is sometimes claimed to be easy to illustrate, but hard to explain. It is not quite clear whether the former part of this claim is as obvious as the latter one. I will not present any specific theory of causation. Our aim is much less ambitious; to investigate the formal counterparts of causal relations between events, i.e. to propose a formal framework which enables us to construct metamathematical counterparts of causal relations between singular (...) events. This should be a good starting point to define formal counterparts for concepts like causal law, causal explanation and so on. (shrink)
I argue that the two standard models of mental causation fail to capture the crucial causal relevance of the reason-giving relations involved. Their common error is an exclusively mechanical conception of causation, on which any justification is bound to be independent of the causal process involved, based upon a general rule from which the correctness of the particular case follows only by subsumption. I establish possibility of an alternative model, by sketching an account of the causal dependence of (...) perceptual knowledge upon experience in which the causal and rationalizing elements are essentially two aspects of a single integrated phenomenon. (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)
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)
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)
Empirical evidence, it has often been argued, undermines our commonsense assumptions concerning the efficacy of conscious intentions. One of the most influential advocates of this challenge has been Daniel Wegner, who has presented an impressive amount of evidence in support of a model of "apparent mental causation". According to Wegner, this model provides the best explanation of numerous curious and pathological cases of behavior. Further, it seems that Benjamin Libet's classic experiment on the initiation of action and the empirical (...) evidence concerning the confabulation of reason explanations provide further support for this view. In response, I will propose an alternative model of "real mental causation" that can accommodate the empirical evidence just as well as Wegner's. Further, we will see that there is plenty of evidence in support of the assumption that intentions are causally efficacious. This will provide us with ample reason to endorse the model of real mental causation. (shrink)
I provide a comprehensive metaphysics of causation based on the idea that fundamentally things are governed by the laws of physics, and that derivatively difference-making can be assessed in terms of what fundamental laws of physics imply for hypothesized events. Highlights include a general philosophical methodology, the fundamental/derivative distinction, and my mature account of causal asymmetry.
Causation is one of the most important and enduring topics in philosophy, going back to Aristotle. In this important book, Helen Beebee covers all the major debates and issues in the philosophy of causation. Beginning with an introduction to the concept, Causation examines the most important philosopher of causation, David Hume, and assesses the problems of induction and necessary connection in light of Hume's thought. Beebee then investigates different theories of causation and challenges to the (...) Humane approach. She considers the concepts of regularity, causal experience, necessity, and essences. Throughout the book, she examines and critically discusses other important philosophers on causation, including JL Mackie, John Wright, and Brian Ellis. (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)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key (...) to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downward causation is question-begging and (...) makes false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
The Exclusion Problem (EP) for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett (2008, 2003) puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination: if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that if (...) an effect has two sufficient causes, it is overdetermined. If sound, her argument does two things: it solves EP, and it shows how to use counterfactuals in order to make the notion of overdetermination precise. However, the argument is not sound. (shrink)
Tooley here sets out and defends realist accounts of traditional empiricist explanations of causation and laws of nature, arguing that since reductionist accounts of causation are exposed to decisive objections, empiricists must break with that tradition.
Key elements of Randolph Clarke's libertarian account of freedom that requires both agent-causation and non-deterministic event-causation in the production of free action is assessed with an eye toward determining whether agent-causal accounts can accommodate the truth of judgments of moral obligation.
to counterintuitive results. Suppose a mental event, m1, causes another mental event, m2. Unless the mental and the physical are completely independent, there will be a physical event in your brain or your body or the physical world as a whole that underlies this event. The mental event occurs at least partly in virtue of the physical event’s occurring. And the same goes for m2  and p2. Let’s not worry about what exactly “underlying” or “in virtue of” means here. (...) Here’s the picture. m1 -----> m2 | | p1 -----> p2 The horizontal arrows represent causation, and the vertical lines represent underlying, whatever that may be. There’s some reason to think that the only way m1 can bring about m2 is by bringing about p2. You can’t convince someone of something through mental telepathy. You need to interact with the physical world, perhaps by saying something and so making some noise, or by pointing and getting them to turn their head and see. What goes for the case of two people goes for the case of one person as well. Superstition aside, there is no purely mental energy that floats free of the merely physical workings of the brain. If m1 brings about m2 by bringing about p2, then m1 brings about p2. This is downward causation. But wait. Doesn’t p1 bring about p2? Isn’t that what the bottom arrow represents? Maybe m1 and p1 work together to bring about p2. There are little holes in the physical causal structure that need to be filled by mental events. You don’t need a sweeping metaphysical thesis about the causal closure of the physical to find this implausible. Maybe p2 is overdetermined. (shrink)