This paper argues that a counterpart-theoretic treatment of events, combined with a counterfactual theory of causation, can help resolve three puzzles from the causation literature. First, CCT traces the apparent contextual shifts in our causal attributions to shifts in the counterpart relation which obtains in those contexts. Second, being sensitive to shifts in the counterpart relation can help diagnose what goes wrong in certain prominent examples where the transitivity of causation appears to fail. Third, CCT can help us resurrect the (...) much-maligned fragility response to the problems of late pre-emption by understanding fragility in counterpart-theoretic terms. Some reasons to prefer this CCT approach to rivals are discussed. (shrink)
In this paper I present a metaphysically minimalist but theoretically strong version of fact causation, in which the causal relata constitute a full Boolean algebra, mirroring the entailment relation of the sentences that express them. I suggest a generalization of the notion of multiple realizability of causes in terms of specificity of facts, and employ this in an interpretation of what goes on in cases of apparently redundant causation.
We develop a new version of the causal theory of spacetime. Whereas traditional versions of the theory seek to identify spatiotemporal relations with causal relations, the version we develop takes causal relations to be the grounds for spatiotemporal relations. Causation is thus distinct from, and more basic than, spacetime. We argue that this non-identity theory, suitably developed, avoids the challenges facing the traditional identity theory.
The chapter explores whether, or to what extent, recent work in experimental philosophy puts pressure on the idea that the concept of causation is ‘egalitarian’. Causal selection – where experimental subjects tend to rate the causal strength of (for example) a norm-violator more strongly than a non-norm-violator – is a well established phenomenon, and is in prima facie tension with an egalitarian conception of causation; it also, indirectly, puts prima facie pressure on the idea that causation is a worldly phenomenon (...) whose obtaining is independent of facts about norms. The chapter explores both the various psychological mechanisms and the broadly pragmatic approaches to explaining causal selection. It argues that the answer to the question whether or not the concept of causation is egalitarian is currently significantly empirically underdetermined, and suggests some avenues for further investigation. (shrink)
When evaluating theories of causation, intuitions should not play a decisive role, not even intuitions in flawlessly-designed thought experiments. Indeed, no coherent theory of causation can respect the typical person’s intuitions in redundancy (pre-emption) thought experiments, without disrespecting their intuitions in threat-and-saviour (switching / short-circuit) thought experiments. I provide a deductively sound argument for these claims. Amazingly, this argument assumes absolutely nothing about the nature of causation. I also provide a second argument, whose conclusion is even stronger: the typical person’s (...) causal intuitions are thoroughly unreliable. This argument proceeds by raising the neglected question: in what respects is information about intermediate and enabling variables relevant to reliable causal judgment? (shrink)
For Humeans, many facts—even ones intuitively “about” particular, localized macroscopic parts of the world—turn out to depend on surprisingly global fundamental bases. We investigate some counterintuitive consequences of this picture. Many counterfactuals whose antecedents describe intuitively localized, non-actual states of affairs nevertheless end up involving wide-ranging implications for the global, embedding Humean mosaic. The case of self-undermining chances is a familiar example of this. We examine that example in detail and argue that popular existing strategies such as “holding the laws (...) fixed as laws” or “holding the laws fixed as true” are of no help. Interestingly, we show how a new proposal that draws on the resources of the Mentaculus can yield the right results—but only on the assumption that the Humean can make cross-world identifications. We go on to argue that the Humean cannot make such identifications. We conclude that the root of this trouble is deeper, and its reach broader, than the familiar cases suggest. We think it is very much an open question whether the Humean has sufficient resources to properly conceptualize macroscopic objects or to analyze these “local” counterfactuals. (shrink)
Recent years have seen increasing interest in interventionist analyses of metaphysical explanation. One area where interventionism traditionally shines, is in providing an account of explanatory depth; the sense in which explanation comes in degrees. However, the literature on metaphysical explanation has left the notion depth almost entirely unexplored. In this paper I shall attempt to rectify this oversight by motivating an interventionist analysis of metaphysical explanatory depth (MED), in terms of the range of interventions under which a metaphysically explanatory generalization (...) remains invariant. After elucidating the notion through a toy-example, I demonstrate the important work which MED can perform in characterizing debate within contemporary metaphysics. Focusing upon rival approaches to explaining the identity and distinctness of concrete objects, I argue that the progress achieved in this debate can be characterized in terms of increasing explanatory depth. Having made an initial case for the utility of MED, I then turn this analysis to the metaphysics of explanation itself. By adopting an interventionist framework with respect to MED, I will show that we can assess the depth of competing theories of explanation. This application has two interesting results: first, it suggests that an interventionist analysis of explanation provides deeper explanations of the connection between explanans and explanandum than rival accounts; and second, it suggests that explanations provided by interventionism become deeper still, if one accepts that this methodology ranges over metaphysical, as well as causal, instances. (shrink)
This paper explores the prospects of employing a functional approach in order to improve our concept of actual causation. Claims of actual causation play an important role for a variety of purposes. In particular, they are relevant for identifying suitable targets for intervention, and they are relevant for our practices of ascribing responsibility. I argue that this gives rise to the challenge of purpose. The challenge of purpose arises when different goals demand adjustments of the concept that pull in opposing (...) directions. More specifically, I argue that a common distinction between certain kinds of preempted and preempting factors is difficult to motivate from an interventionist viewpoint. This indicates that an appropriately revised concept of actual causation would not distinguish between these two kinds of factors. From the viewpoint of retributivist responsibility, however, the distinction between preempted and preempting factors sometimes is important, which indicates that the distinction should be retained. (shrink)
It is widely thought that there is an important argument to be made that starts with premises taken from the science of physics and ends with the conclusion of physicalism. The standard view is that this argument takes the form of a causal argument for physicalism. Roughly: physics tells us that the physical realm is causally complete, and so minds (among other entities) must be physical if they are to interact with the world as we think they do. In what (...) follows, I raise problems for this view. After an initial review of the causal argument, I begin my case by showing that the totality of physical truths do not deductively entail the causal completeness of the physical realm, using a double-prevention scenario and causation by omission to show that nonphysical causes of physical effects would not need to violate physical conservation laws. I then move on to raise problems for an inductive argument for causal completeness by drawing on the neo-Russellian view that there is no causation in fundamental physics, and so causation must itself be a realized or derived entity. I conclude by suggesting that the underlying problem is that the causal argument has fallen out of touch with the sophisticated understanding that philosophers have developed of the role of causation within physics. (shrink)
The standard objection to dualist theories of mind is that they seemingly cannot account for the obvious fact that mental phenomena cause our behaviour. On the plausible assumption that all our behaviour is physically necessitated by entirely physical phenomena, there appears to be no room for dualist mental causation. Some argue that dualists can address this problem by making minimal adjustments in their ontology. I argue that no such adjustments are required. Given recent developments in philosophy of causation, it is (...) plausible that mental phenomena cause behaviour in standard dualist ontologies. (shrink)
Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...) concerned with the attempt of confronting the challenge coming from the Causal Parity Thesis by offering principles of causal selection that are spelled out in terms of an explicit philosophical account of causation, namely an interventionist account. I show that two such accounts that have been developed, although they contain important insights about causation in biology, nonetheless fail to provide an adequate reply to the Causal Parity challenge: Ken Waters's account of actual-difference making and Jim Woodward's account of causal specificity. A combination of the two also doesn't do the trick, nor does Laura Franklin-Hall's account of explanation (in this volume). We need additional conceptual resources. I argue that the resources we need consist in a special class of counterfactual conditionals, namely counterfactuals the antecedents of which describe biologically normal interventions. (shrink)
The counterfactual approach to explainable AI (XAI) seeks to provide understanding of AI systems through the provision of counterfactual explanations. In a recent systematic review, Chou et al. (Inform Fus 81:59–83, 2022) argue that the counterfactual approach does not clearly provide causal understanding. They diagnose the problem in terms of the underlying framework within which the counterfactual approach has been developed. To date, the counterfactual approach has not been developed in concert with the approach for specifying causes developed by Pearl (...) (Causality: Models, reasoning, and inference. Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Woodward (Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation. Oxford University Press, 2003). In this paper, I build on Chou et al.’s work by applying the Pearl-Woodward approach. I argue that the standard counterfactual approach to XAI is capable of delivering causal understanding, but that there are limitations on its capacity to do so. I suggest a way to overcome these limitations. (shrink)
Causes always seem to come prior to their effects. What might explain this asymmetry? Causation's temporal asymmetry isn't straightforwardly due to a temporal asymmetry in the laws of nature—the laws are, by and large, temporally symmetric. Nor does the asymmetry appear due to an asymmetry in time itself. This Element examines recent empirical attempts to explain the temporal asymmetry of causation: statistical mechanical accounts, agency accounts and fork asymmetry accounts. None of these accounts are complete yet and a full explanation (...) of the temporal asymmetry of causation will likely require contributions from all three programs. (shrink)
This paper is on the problem of profligate omissions. The problem is that counterfactual definitions of causation identify as a cause anything that could have prevented an effect but that did not actually occur, which is a highly counterintuitive result. Many solutions of this problem appeal to normative, epistemic, pragmatic, or metaphysical considerations. These existing solutions are in some sense substantive. In contrast, this paper concentrates on the semantics of counterfactuals. I propose to replace Strong Centering with Weak Centering. This (...) allows that the actual world is not the only world that is closest to the actual world. As a result, some counterfactuals that would otherwise have been true, turn out to be false. When these counterfactuals concern causation, fewer causal claims are true. In addition to describing steps towards solving the problem of profligate omissions, the proposal captures an abstraction that is shared by many of the existing solutions: depending on how the distance ordering underlying the Weak Centering condition is constructed and interpreted, some of these existing solutions can be recovered. (shrink)
This paper presents a line of thought against the possibility of causation without time. That possibility, insofar as it is supposedly rested upon a Lewisian counterfactual theory of causation, does not stand up to scrutiny. The key point is that, as a reflection on the trans-world identity of events reveals, (distinct) events deprived of times are—according to Lewis’s own semantics of counterfactuals—no longer eligible to stand in counterfactual dependence.
Absences pose a dilemma for theories of causation. Allowing them to be causes seems to make theories too permissive (Lewis, 2000). Banning them from being causes seems to make theories too restrictive (Schaffer, 2000, 2004). An increasingly popular approach to this dilemma is to acknowledge that norms can affect which absences count as causes (e.g., Thomson, 2003; McGrath, 2005; Henne et al., 2017; Willemsen, 2018). In this article, I distinguish between two influential implementations of such ‘abnormality’ approaches and argue that (...) so-called ‘double-prevention mechanisms’ provide counterexamples against both. (shrink)
Causal pluralists hold that that there is not just one determinate kind of causation. Some causal pluralists hold that ‘cause’ is ambiguous among these different kinds. For example, Hall (2004) argues that ‘cause’ is ambiguous between two causal relations, which he labels dependence and production. The view that ‘cause’ is ambiguous, however, wrongly predicts zeugmatic conjunction reduction, and wrongly predicts the behaviour of ellipsis in causal discourse. So ‘cause’ is not ambiguous. If we are to disentangle causal pluralism from the (...) ambiguity claim, we need to consider what other linguistic approaches are available to the causal pluralist. I consider and reject proposals that ‘cause’ is a general term, that the term is an indexical, and that the term conveys different kinds of causation through implicature or presupposition. Finally, I argue that causal pluralism is better handled by treating ‘cause’ as a univocal term within a dynamic interpretation framework. (shrink)
According to the theory developed here, we may trace out the processes emanating from a cause in such a way that any consequence lying along one of these processes counts as an effect of the cause. This theory gives intuitive verdicts in a diverse range of problem cases from the literature. Its claims about causation will never be retracted when we include additional variables in our model. And it validates some plausible principles about causation, including Sartorio's ‘Causes as Difference Makers’ (...) principle and Hitchcock's ‘Principle of Sufficient Reason’. (shrink)
Existing research has shown that norm violations influence causal judgments, and a number of different models have been developed to explain these effects. One such model, the necessity/sufficiency model, predicts an interac- tion pattern in people’s judgments. Specifically, it predicts that when people are judging the degree to which a particular factor is a cause, there should be an interaction between (a) the degree to which that factor violates a norm and (b) the degree to which another factor in the (...) situation violates norms. A study of moral norms (N = 1000) and norms of proper functioning (N = 3000) revealed robust evidence for the predicted interaction effect. The implications of these patterns for existing theories of causal judgments is discussed. (shrink)
Setting off from a familiar distinction in the philosophy of properties, this paper introduces a tripartite distinction between sparse causation, abundant causation and mere abundant causation. It is argued that the contrast between sparse and mere abundant causation allows us to resolve notorious philosophical issues having to do with negative causation, causation involving institutional properties and physical macro-causation in a way that is unified, intuitive and in line with scientific doctrines and practices.
Nonreductive physicalism states that actions have sufficient physical causes and distinct mental causes. Nonreductive physicalism has recently faced the exclusion problem, according to which the single sufficient physical cause excludes the mental causes from causal efficacy. Autonomists respond by stating that while mental-to-physical causation fails, mental-to-mental causation persists. Several recent philosophers establish this autonomy result via similar models of causation :1031–1049, 2016; Zhong, J Philos 111:341–360, 2014). In this paper I argue that both of these autonomist models fail on account (...) of the problem of Edwards’s Dictum. However, I appeal to foundational principles of action theory to resuscitate mental-to-mental causation in a manner that is consistent with the models of causation endorsed by these autonomists. (shrink)
This paper aims to bridge philosophical and psychological research on causation, counterfactual thought, and the problem of backtracking. Counterfactual approaches to causation such as that by Lewis have ruled out backtracking, while on prominent models of causal inference interventionist counterfactuals do not backtrack. However, on various formal models, certain backtracking counterfactuals end up being true, and psychological evidence shows that people do sometimes backtrack when answering counterfactual questions in causal contexts. On the basis of psychological research, I argue that while (...) ordinarily both kinds of counterfactuals may be employed, non-backtracking counterfactuals are more easily used in causal inference because they are consistent with temporal order information embedded in the mental simulation heuristic, and they match reasoners’ experience of causation. While this approach is incompatible with the ambitions of counterfactual theories that seek to establish the non-backtracking interpretation as the only legitimate one, it can provide support for perspectival views on causation and open further inquiry on the functions of causal and counterfactual thought in the context of causal models. (shrink)
According to the so-called 'proportionality principle', causes should be proportional to their effects: they should be both enough and not too much for the occurrence of their effects. This principle is the subject of an ongoing debate. On the one hand, many maintain that it is required to address the problem of causal exclusion and take it to capture a crucial aspect of causation. On the other hand, many object that it renders accounts of causation implausibly restrictive and often reject (...) the principle wholesale. I argue that there is exaggeration on both sides. While one half of the principle is overly demanding, the other half is unobjectionable. And while the unobjectionable half does not block exclusion arguments on its own, it provides a nuanced picture of higher-level causation, fits with recent developments in philosophy of causation, and motivates adjustments to standard difference-making accounts of causation. I conclude that at least half of the proportionality principle is worth taking seriously. (shrink)
In this article, I defend a biconditional counterfactual account of causation, which places equal emphasis on what I call “the presence condition” and “the absence condition,” whereas Lewis's classical counterfactual theory focuses only on the absence condition. I attempt to show that biconditionalism provides a promising treatment of supervenient causation, namely, causal cases involving the supervenience relationship. Although some philosophers confuse this account with the proportionality constraint on causation, I argue that biconditionalism is distinct from and superior to proportionalism in (...) accommodating our reliable causal intuitions. (shrink)
Halpern and Hitchcock appealed to the normality of witness worlds to solve the problem of isomorphism in the Halpern-Pearl definition of actual causality. This paper first proposes a new isomorphism counterexample, called “bogus permission,” to show that their approach is unsuccessful. Then, to solve the problem of isomorphism, I propose a new improvement over the Halpern-Pearl definition by introducing default worlds. Finally, I demonstrate that my new definition can resolve more potential counterexamples than similar approaches in the current literature, including (...) the Lewisian causal dependence, Menziesian causal dependence, and modified version of the Halpern-Pearl definition. Some other advantages of my definition are also discussed. (shrink)
Pearl opened the door to formally defining actual causation using causal models. His approach rests on two strategies: first, capturing the widespread intuition that X = x causes Y = y iff X = x is a Necessary Element of a Sufficient Set for Y = y, and second, showing that his definition gives intuitive answers on a wide set of problem cases. This inspired dozens of variations of his definition of actual causation, the most prominent of which are due (...) to Halpern & Pearl. Yet all of them ignore Pearl’s first strategy, and the second strategy taken by itself is unable to deliver a consensus. This paper offers a way out by going back to the first strategy: it offers six formal definitions of causal sufficiency and two interpretations of necessity. Combining the two gives twelve new definitions of actual causation. Several interesting results about these definitions and their relation to the various Halpern & Pearl definitions are presented. Afterwards the second strategy is evaluated as well. In order to maximize neutrality, the paper relies mostly on the examples and intuitions of Halpern & Pearl. One definition comes out as being superior to all others, and is therefore suggested as a new definition of actual causation. (shrink)
We standardly evaluate counterfactuals and abilities in temporally asymmetric terms—by keeping the past fixed and holding the future open. Only future events depend counterfactually on what happens now. Past events do not. Conversely, past events are relevant to what abilities one has now in a way that future events are not. Lewis, Sider and others continue to evaluate counterfactuals and abilities in temporally asymmetric terms, even in cases of backwards time travel. I’ll argue that we need more temporally neutral methods. (...) The past shouldn’t always be held fixed, because backwards time travel requires backwards counterfactual dependence. Future events should sometimes be held fixed, because they’re in the causal history of the past, and agents have evidence of them independently of their decisions now. We need temporally neutral methods to maintain connections between causation, counterfactuals and evidence, and if counterfactuals are used to explain the temporal asymmetry of causation. (shrink)
In this dissertation I develop a pluralist theory of actual causation. I argue that we need to distinguish between total, path-changing, and contributing actual causation. The pluralist theory accounts for a set of example cases that have raised problems for extant unified theories and it is supported by considerations about the various functions of causal concepts. The dissertation also analyses the context-sensitivity of actual causation. I show that principled accounts of causal reasoning in legal inquiry face limitations and I argue (...) that the context-sensitivity of actual causation is best represented by a distinction between default and deviant states in causal models. (shrink)
I provide a theory of causation within the causal modeling framework. In contrast to most of its predecessors, this theory is model-invariant in the following sense: if the theory says that C caused (didn't cause) E in a causal model, M, then it will continue to say that C caused (didn't cause) E once we've removed an inessential variable from M. I suggest that, if this theory is true, then we should understand a cause as something which transmits deviant or (...) non-inertial behavior to its effect. (shrink)
Counterfactual analysis is an interesting feature of thought experiments, because it requires the imagination of alternative states of the world (see also publications by Fearon, Lebow and Stein, Reiss, and Tetlock and Belkin, who suggest the same). In historical analysis, the use of imagination is often the focus of criticisms of such counterfactual analysis. In this article, I consider three strategies for constraining imagination: making limited counterfactual changes, limiting counterfactual changes to the decisions of important figures, and using evidence to (...) restrict the scope for imagination. Given the focus of this special issue, I will relate this discussion to Lewis’s and Woodward’s analyses of counterfactuals in the philosophy of science. I show that counterfactual analysis in historical cases has some resemblance to Lewis’s and Woodward’s analyses, but that what Lewis calls “transition periods” cannot be left entirely vague, as Lewis suggests, nor can counterfactual changes be seen simply as interventions, as Woodward suggests. I propose that efforts to limit imagination in historical counterfactuals are ultimately problematic, but that imagination can nevertheless play a useful role in counterfactual analysis. (shrink)
I raise two objections against Christian List and Peter Menzies' influential account of high-level causation. Improving upon some of Stephen Yablo's earlier work, I develop an alternative theory which evades both objections. The discussion calls into question List and Menzies' main contention, namely, that the exclusion principle, applied to difference-making, is false.
Before a fair, indeterministic coin is tossed, Lucky, who is causally isolated from the coin-tossing mechanism, declines to bet on heads. The coin lands heads. The consensus is that the following counterfactual is true: (M:) If Lucky had bet heads, he would have won the bet. It is also widely believed that to rule (M) true, any plausible semantics for counterfactuals must invoke causal independence. But if that’s so, the hope of giving a reductive analysis of causation in terms of (...) counterfactuals is undermined. Here I argue that there is compelling reason to question the assumption that (M) is true. (shrink)
Building on Nozick's invariantism about objectivity, I propose to define scientific objectivity in terms of counterfactual independence. I will argue that such a counterfactual independence account is (a) able to overcome the decisive shortcomings of Nozick's original invariantism and (b) applicable to three paradigmatic kinds of scientific objectivity (that is, objectivity as replication, objectivity as robustness, and objectivity as Mertonian universalism).
Many philosophers maintain that causation is to be explicated in terms of a kind of dependence between cause and effect. These “dependence” theories are opposed by “production” accounts which hold that there is some more fundamental causal “oomph”. A wide range of experimental research on everyday causal judgments seems to indicate that ordinary people operate primarily with a dependence-based notion of causation. For example, people tend to say that absences and double preventers are causes. We argue that the impression that (...) commonsense causal discourse is largely dependence-based is the result of focusing on a very narrow class of causal verbs. Almost all of the vignette-based experimental work on causal judgment has been prosecuted using the word “cause”. But much ordinary causal discourse involves special causal verbs, such as “burn” and “crack”. We find that these verbs display a quite different pattern from the verb “cause”. For instance, for absences and double preventers (Studies 1-3), we find that while people are inclined to say that X caused Y to burn, turn, crack or start, they are less inclined to think that X burned, turned, cracked or started Y. In Study 4, we find that for chains involving a distal and proximal event, people are inclined to say that the distal event is not a special cause of the outcome, though it is a “cause” of the outcome. Together, we find a surprising double dissociation between “cause” and a stock of special causal verbs. We conclude by suggesting that much commonsense causal judgment, which heavily trades in special causal verbs, might be better captured by production-based accounts of causation. (shrink)
Although David Lewis advocates a counterpart-theoretic treatment of objects but rejects a parallel treatment of events, many philosophers have — mainly to solve some puzzles within the framework of a Lewisian counterfactual analysis of causation — suggested that the counterpart-theoretic treatment be extended to events. This article argues that we had better not be a counterpart theorist of events as long as we want to remain at all faithful to the counterfactual analysis of causation.
The life-long correspondence of David K. Lewis, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, reveals the development, breadth, and depth of his philosophy in its historical context. The first of this two volume collection of letters focuses on his contributions to metaphysics, arguably where he made his greatest impact.
The existence of non-local correlations between outcomes of measurements in quantum entangled systems strongly suggests that we are dealing with some form of causation here. An assessment of this conjecture in the context of the collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is the primary goal of this paper. Following the counterfactual approach to causation, I argue that the details of the underlying causal mechanism which could explain the non-local correlations in entangled states strongly depend on the adopted semantics for counterfactuals. Several (...) relativistically-invariant interpretations of spatiotemporal counterfactual conditionals are discussed, and the corresponding causal stories describing interactions between parts of an entangled system are evaluated. It is observed that the most controversial feature of the postulated causal connections is not so much their non-local character as a peculiar type of circularity that affects them. (shrink)
Our minds have physical effects. This happens, for instance, when we move our bodies when we act. How is this possible? Thomas Kroedel defends an account of mental causation in terms of difference-making: if our minds had been different, the physical world would have been different; therefore, the mind causes events in the physical world. His account not only explains how the mind has physical effects at all, but solves the exclusion problem - the problem of how those effects can (...) have both mental and physical causes. It is also unprecedented in scope, because it is available to dualists about the mind as well as physicalists, drawing on traditional views of causation as well as on the latest developments in the field of causal modelling. It will be of interest to a range of readers in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. This book is also available as Open Access. (shrink)
The book provides an analysis of a key notion in our lives, causation: what its nature is; how we should characterise it in language, how it relates to laws of nature, how causes differ from their effects and why they tend to occur earlier than their effects.
Both transition and transformation link the ideal and material into a whole. Future is what “causes” the present, and the latter in turn is what “causes” the past. That kind of “reverse causality” needs free choice and free will in the present in order to be able to be realized unlike classical causality. A few properties feature the concept of “quantum occasionalism” as follows. Some hypothetical entity generates successively a series of well-ordered states. That hypothetical entity is called “coherent state” (...) in quantum mechanics and defined as a superposition of all possible states of the quantum system. The already generated well-ordered series can be interpreted as a causal sequence. Thus the generating cause remains hidden behind the visible well-ordering of the series and hides itself behind the perfect visible order created by it. That visible order only seems to cause itself by itself. (shrink)
“Physical premotion” is a concept associated with Baroque Catholic theological debates concerning grace and freedom. In this paper, I present an argument that the entities identified in this debate, physical premotions, are necessary for any classical theist’s account of divine causality. A “classical theist” is a theist who holds both that God is simple, that is, without inhering properties, and that humans and God are both free in the incompatibilist sense. In fact, not only does the acceptance of physical premotions (...) not entail determinism, physical premotions are the only way for classical theists to preserve the aforementioned two commitments. Nevertheless, the theory of premotions cannot help theologians resolve questions of how God causes human free acts without violating their freedom. (shrink)
According to an increasingly popular view among philosophers of science, both causal and non-causal explanations can be accounted for by a single theory: the counterfactual theory of explanation. A kind of non-causal explanation that has gained much attention recently but that this theory seems unable to account for are grounding explanations. Reutlinger :239-256, 2017) has argued that, despite these appearances to the contrary, such explanations are covered by his version of the counterfactual theory. His idea is supported by recent work (...) on grounding by Schaffer and Wilson who claim there to be a tight connection between grounding and counterfactual dependence. The present paper evaluates the prospects of the idea. We show that there is only a weak sense in which grounding explanations convey information about counterfactual dependencies, and that this fact cannot plausibly be taken to reveal a distinctive feature that grounding explanations share with other kinds of explanations. (shrink)
What is offered here is an interpretation of Hume’s views on causation. While it might not be literally Hume’s view, it is certainly consistent with Hume, and is probably what Hume should say on causation, in light of recent developments in science and logic. As a way in, it is argued that the considerations that Hume brings against rationalist theories of causation can be applied to counterfactual theories of causation. Since, counterfactuals, possible worlds and modality were not ideas that would (...) have been overly familiar to Hume, some supplementation of Hume’s arguments will be necessary. (shrink)