This paper is an exercise in what J. L. Austin (1956-7) called "linguistic phenomenology". Its focus is on showing how the grammatical features of ordinary causal verbs, as revealed in the kinds of linguistic constructions they can figure in, can shed light on the nature of the processes that these verbs are used to describe. Specifically, drawing on the comprehensive classification of English verbs founds in Levin (1993), I divide the forms of productive causal processes into five classes, corresponding to (...) Aristotle's overarching ontological categories: there are processes that cause change in location, in state, and in quantity; and that lead to the creation and destruction of substances. These broader categories are then subdivided into other ones, corresponding to Levin classes, according to further differences in the causal processes they involve. I conclude by discussing the relevance of this argument to research in metaphysics and experimental philosophy. (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)
I shall present in this article a double negation account of the distinction between causes and background conditions. Such an account will be based on the idea that, unlike causes, background conditions allow for certain effects by way of double prevention. In Section 1 I shall introduce objective and non-objective theories of the causes-background conditions distinction and I shall discuss and reject some non-objective theories. In Section 2 I shall examine some existing objective theories and argue that they need to (...) be supplemented in two relevant respects. In Section 3 I shall present my double negation account. Background conditions will be taken to allow for their effects by acting as early double preventers, late double preventers or effect double preventers. In Section 4 I shall deal with two main problems, i.e., the possibility of interpreting background conditions as purely indirect causes and the introduction of negative entities in my account, and with further issues. (shrink)
We argue that Madole & Harden's distinction between shallow versus deep genetic causes can bring some clarity to causal claims arising from genome-wide association studies (GWASs). However, the authors argue that GWAS only finds shallow genetic causes, making GWAS commensurate with the environmental studies they hope to supplant. We also assess whether their distinction applies best to explanations or causes.
Cosmos+Taxis published a special issue with a symposium discussing Robert Vinten's book Wittgenstein and the Social Sciences. The symposium was edited by Richard Eldridge and it contains contributions from Paul Roth (Distinguished Professor, UC Santa Cruz), Daniel Little (Professor, University of Michigan, Dearborn), Rafael Azize (Associate Professor, Federal University of Bahia), Richard Raatzsch (Professor, EBS Universität), and Rupert Read (Associate Professor, UEA) - with a response by Robert Vinten ('Response to Critics'). Within the issue the papers compare Wittgenstein's philosophy to (...) art, compare Wittgenstein to Brecht, and examine the nature of the social sciences. (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.
In recent years what has come to be called the 'New Mechanism' has emerged as a framework for thinking about the philosophical assumptions underlying many areas of science, especially in sciences such as biology, neuroscience, and psychology. This book offers a fresh look at the role of mechanisms, by situating novel analyses of central philosophical issues related to mechanisms within a rich historical perspective of the concept of mechanism as well as detailed case studies of biological mechanisms. It develops a (...) new position, Methodological Mechanism, according to which mechanisms are to be viewed as causal pathways that are theoretically described and are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. In contrast to metaphysically inflated accounts, this study characterises mechanism as a concept-in-use in science that is deflationary and metaphysically neutral, but still methodologically useful and central to scientific practice. (shrink)
It is a common opinion that chance events cannot be understood in causal terms. Conversely, according to a causal view of chance, intersections between independent causal chains originate accidental events, called “coincidences.” The present paper takes into proper consideration this causal conception of chance and tries to shed new light on it. More precisely, starting from Hart and Honoré’s view of coincidental events, this paper furnishes a more detailed account on the nature of coincidences, according to which coincidental events are (...) hybrids constituted by ontic components, that is the intersections between independent causal chains, plus epistemic aspects; where by “epistemic” we mean what is related, in some sense, to knowledge: for example, access to information, but also expectations, relevance, significance, that is psychological aspects. In particular, this paper investigates the role of the epistemic aspects in our understanding of what coincidences are. In fact, although the independence between the causal lines involved plays a crucial role in understanding coincidental events, that condition results to be insufficient to give a satisfactory definition of coincidences. The main target of the present work is to show that the epistemic aspects of coincidences are, together with the independence between the intersecting causal chains, a constitutive part of coincidental phenomena. Many examples are offered throughout this paper to enforce this idea. This conception, despite—for example—Antoine Augustine Cournot and Jacques Monod’s view, entails that a pure objectivist view about coincidences is not tenable. (shrink)
This chapter moves from the most fundamental parts of Aquinas’s metaphysics to Aquinas’s thought about the created world, and especially the way in which things in the created world are able to act as beings in their own right, without altering their dependence on the creator. The result is an account of the causality of creatures that does not impugn their connection to the more basic causality of the Deity and that allows this part of Aquinas’s account to be compatible (...) with accounts of causality in modern science. (shrink)
In the present article, I introduce Husserl’s analyses of ‘natural causality’ and ‘volitional causality’, which are collected in the volume ‘Wille und Handlung’ of the Husserliana edition Studien zur Struktur des Bewußtseins. My aim is to show that Husserl’s insight into these phenomena enables us to understand more clearly both the specificity of, and the relation between, the motivational nexus belonging to the sphere of the will in contrast with the causal laws of nature. In light of this understanding, in (...) the last part of the article I reflect on whether and to what extent there is, in fact, an ontological and epistemological compatibility between volitional causality and natural causality. (shrink)
We can cause windows to break and we can break windows; we can cause villages to flood and we can flood villages; and we can cause chocolate to melt and we can melt chocolate. Each time these can come apart: if, for example, A merely instructs B to break the window, then A causes the window to break without breaking it herself. Each instance of A breaking/flooding/melting/burning/killing/etc. something, is an instance of what I call making. I argue that making is (...) an independent, theoretically important notion—akin but irreducible to causing—and metaphysicians should pay attention to it. (shrink)
In cases in which many causes together bring about an effect, it is common to select some as particularly important. Philosophers since Mill have been pessimistic about analyzing this reasoning because of its variability and the multifarious causal and pragmatic details of how it works. I argue Mill was right to think these details matter but wrong that they preclude philosophical analysis of causal selection. I show that analyzing the pragmatic details of scientific debates about the important causes of the (...) Bhopal Gas Tragedy can illuminate causal reasoning about disasters and shed new light on causality and causal selection. (shrink)
This paper argues there are crucial points in Nietzsche’s texts where he offers a priori epistemic justification for views he believes are correct. My reading contrasts with the dominant view that Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism is incompatible with a priori justification. My aim is to develop Nietzsche’s brand of a priori justification, show that he employs this account of justification in the texts, and suggest how it might be compatible with naturalism.
Brain-computer interfaces allow agents to control computers without moving their bodies. The agents imagine certain things and the brain-computer interfaces read the concomitant neural activity and operate the computer accordingly. But the use of brain-computer interfaces is problematic for criminal law, which requires that someone can only be found criminally responsible if they have satisfied the actus reus requirement: that the agent has performed some (suitably specified) conduct. Agents who affect the world using brain-computer interfaces do not obviously perform any (...) conduct, so when they commit crimes using brain-computer interfaces it is unclear how they have satisfied actus reus. Drawing on a forthcoming paper by Allan McCay, I suggest three potential accounts of the conduct that satisfies actus reus: the agent’s neural firings, his mental states, and the electronic activity in his brain-computer interface. I then present two accounts which determine how actus reus may be satisfied – one a counterfactual and the other a minimal sufficiency account. These accounts are lent plausibility because they are analogous to the but-for and NESS (Necessary Element in a Sufficient Set) tests for causation which are generally accepted tests for causation in legal theory. I argue that due to the determinations of these accounts and considerations regarding the relationship between the mind and brain, actus reus is satisfied by either the agent’s neural activity or brain-computer interface electrical activity. Which of these satisfies actus reus is determined by how well the brain-computer interface is functionally integrated with the agent. (shrink)
Hume’s criticisms of divine causation are insufficient because he does not respond to important philosophical positions that are defended by those whom he closely read. Hume’s arguments might work against the background of a Cartesian definition of body, or a Malebranchian conception of causation, or some defenses of occasionalism. At least, I will not here argue that they succeed or fail against those targets. Instead, I will lay out two major deficiencies in his arguments against divine causation. I call these (...) “deficiencies” because Hume does not adequately address live positions. This does not mean, of course, that there are not problems with these views or that Hume could not have given strong arguments against them. Rather, Hume’s arguments, which can seem comprehensive to the twenty-first century reader, are in fact not so. For the deficiencies discussed in this essay, I point to writers from Hume’s near context (many of whom we know he read carefully) who held the views not discussed, and I provide reasons why Hume seems not to have entertained these possibilities. I won’t distinguish between accidentally overlooking and actively ignoring. By drawing attention to these three deficiencies, I have two goals. The first is to demonstrate the diversity of seventeenth and early eighteenth century views on divine causation, especially among philosophers in England, Scotland, and Ireland, who are often ignored by philosophers today who, like Hume, focus on continental Cartesians while ignoring British dualists and vitalists. The second goal is to make today’s readers aware of shortcomings in Hume’s arguments to encourage productively contextual readings of Hume and his contemporaries. (shrink)
Donald J. Zeyl begins the historical section of the book by tracing divine causation throughout classical Greek philosophy. Some of the Pre-Socratics held to a single god as the source of rational order or change. These views suggested that the cosmos may be explained teleologically. Plato takes up that suggested promise in his Phaedo and finds it wanting. Instead, he looks to Forms as (formal) causes of natural processes. This direction of inquiry leads him to postulate, in the Republic, the (...) Form of the Good as the “unhypothetical (causal) first principle.” In Plato’s later writings, most notably in the Timaeus, Plato presents a full-blown teleological account of both the universe at large and the varieties of living things that inhabit the earth. The agent that brings about the conformity of the world to the Forms is the divine Demiurge. -/- Aristotle inherits from Plato the belief that processes in the natural world are to be understood teleologically. These processes are explained by the nature (or form) of the organism itself. Aristotle’s world has no beginning and thus has no place for an original efficient cause to get the world started. Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” plays no causal role in the processes of the natural world, all of which are exhaustively explained in terms of Aristotle’s well-known theory of the “four causes.” Nevertheless, the Unmoved Mover is a final cause. -/- After Aristotle, only the Stoics offered an account of divine causal agency. As pantheists, the Stoics identified the world with a divine rational principle they named the Logos. All events, natural and social, are completely determined by Reason, so the Stoics were strict determinists, both in their natural philosophy and in their social and ethical thought. (shrink)
This paper seeks to demonstrate why the existence of suboptimal design in biology does not offer a reason for Christians to reject the biological case for Intelligent Design. In it, I argue that Christians who critique ID based upon alleged deficiencies within biology fail to imagine the various ways in which a divine designer might bring about certain biological effects. That is, such critics presumably envision a simplistic notion of divine causation—where God either directly brings about every biological effect, or (...) is not involved in any biological effect. Such either or thinking, I maintain, is theologically unnecessary. (shrink)
The problem of free will is associated with a specific and significant kind of control over our actions, which is understood primarily in the sense that we have the freedom to do otherwise or the capacity for self‐determination. Is Buddhism compatible with such a conception of free will? The aim of this article is to address three critical issues concerning the free will problem: (1) what role should accounts of physical and neurobiological processes play in discussions of free will? (2) (...) Is a conception of mental autonomy grounded in practices of meditative cultivation compatible with the three cardinal Buddhist doctrines of momentariness, dependent arising, and no‐self? (3) Are there enough resources in Buddhism, given its antisubstantialist metaphysics, to account for personal agency, self‐control, and moral responsibility? (shrink)
Abstract objects are standardly taken to be causally inert, however principled arguments for this claim are rarely given. As a result, a number of recent authors have claimed that abstract objects are causally efficacious. These authors take abstracta to be temporally located in order to enter into causal relations but lack a spatial location. In this paper, I argue that such a position is untenable by showing first that causation requires its relata to have a temporal location, but second, that (...) if an entity is temporally located then it is spatiotemporally located since this follows from the theory of Relativity. Since abstract objects lack a spatiotemporal location, then if something is causally efficacious, it is not abstract. (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.
The question whether God should be thought of as personal or a-personal is closely linked to the issue of an appropriate model of God-world relation on the one hand and the question how to conceive divine action on the other hand. Starting with a discussion of the scientific character of theology, this article critically examines the univocal-personal concept of God. Traditional Christian conceptions of God have, however, always acknowledged a radical asymmetry between the personal existence of created beings and the (...) ground of being itself. In a second step, the ontological truth claim associated with this way of speaking about God is being related to its methodological consequences. In final step, attention is given to the relation of immanence and transcendence as it is defended in different versions of panentheism: As an alternative to divine interventionism, panentheism can be shown to explicate divine providence as formal and final causation. (shrink)
This article deals with the historical position of Domingo Báñez in the De Auxiliis Controversy. He was a protagonist of the beginning of the dispute and his name was used by the defenders of Luis de Molina to describe the traditional Thomist account on divine providence and free will; even today, many Thomists use the name of Báñez to designate their own position. This article tries to determine his personal opinion regarding the ontology of physical premotion without presupposing the later (...) development of Bañecian doctrine. Most Thomists conceive it as a kind of entity inherent in the creature, but Báñez did not interpret it this way in his own account. According to him, God moves the created will so that the free human act is the first new entity in the creature, and it is produced by both God and created free will. (shrink)
Few ideas in the history of philosophy have come in for the sustained criticism meted out to Aristotle’s notion of final causation. According to Aristotle and the scholastics, final causes are not just one kind of cause among many, but the very ‘cause of causes’. To appreciate the connection between final causes and efficient causes, it is useful to gather a few reminders of the Aristotelian approach to causation in general. The Aristotelian notion of causation in general has two essential (...) components: a cause is that on which something depends in itself, and a cause is a principle in itself influencing being in another. For the scholastics, the effort to understand the natural order is in large part a matter of identifying these causes in the phenomenon under investigation. For final causes in cases of human agency are, in the last analysis, only ens rationis, namely, beings of reason. (shrink)
Kevin Laland and colleagues have put forward a number of arguments motivating an extended evolutionary synthesis. Here I examine Laland et al.'s central concept of reciprocal causation. Reciprocal causation features in many arguments supporting an expanded evolutionary framework, yet few of these arguments are clearly delineated. Here I clarify the concept and make explicit three arguments in which it features. I identify where skeptics can—and are—pushing back against these arguments, and highlight what I see as the empirical, explanatory, and methodological (...) issues at stake. (shrink)
In this article, I present in a systematic way Aristotle’s understanding of movement (kinêsis) as efficient cause in the Generation of Animals. This aspect of movement is not disclosed in the approach to movement as an incomplete activity in contrast to energeia, which has been extensively discussed in the literature. I explain in which sense movement is the efficient cause of generation and how this movement is related to the other factors, in particular the source of movement, the seminal fluid, (...) pneuma, and the vital heat, as well as to the form and the soul. The role of movement as efficient cause of generation shows how, for Aristotle, form and soul are inseparable from matter and movement in nature. Explaining the role of movement as efficient cause of generation also helps to make sense of the multiplicity of factors involved in the efficient causality of generation. The key to articulating these factors with one another is the identity of form of the generative movement, which is specifically the same in the source, in the tools, and in the substance that is coming into being. (shrink)
As physical entities that translate symbols into physical actions, computers offer insights into the nature of meaning and agency. • Physical symbol systems, generically known as agents, link abstractions to material actions. The meaning of a symbol is defined as the physical actions an agent takes when the symbol is encountered. • An agent has autonomy when it has the power to select actions based on internal decision processes. Autonomy offers a partial escape from constraints imposed by direct physical influences (...) such as gravity and the transfer of momentum. Swimming upstream is an example. • Symbols are names that can designate other entities. It appears difficult to explain the use of names and symbols in terms of more primitive functionality. The ability to use names and symbols, i.e., symbol grounding, may be a fundamental cognitive building block. • The standard understanding of causality—wiggling X results in Y wiggling—applies to both physical causes (e.g., one billiard ball hitting another) and symbolic causes (e.g., a traffic light changing color). Because symbols are abstract, they cannot produce direct physical effects. For a symbol to be a cause requires that the affected entity determine its own response. This is called autonomous causality. • This analysis of meaning and autonomy offers new perspectives on free will. (shrink)
This book covers the overlap between informatics, computer science, philosophy of causation, and causal inference in epidemiology and population health research. Key concepts covered include how data are generated and interpreted, and how and why concepts in health informatics and the philosophy of science should be integrated in a systems-thinking approach. Furthermore, a formal epistemology for the health sciences and public health is suggested. -/- Causation in Population Health Informatics and Data Science provides a detailed guide of the latest thinking (...) on causal inference in population health informatics. It is therefore a critical resource for all informaticians and epidemiologists interested in the potential benefits of utilising a systems-based approach to causal inference in health informatics. (shrink)
Though the divide between reason-based and causal-explanatory approaches in psychiatry and psychopathology is old and deeply rooted, current trends involving multi-factorial explanatory models and evidence-based approaches to interpersonal psychotherapy, show that it has already been implicitly bridged. These trends require a philosophical reconsideration of how reasons can be causes. This paper contributes to that trajectory by arguing that Donald Davidson’s classic paradigm of 1963 is still a valid option.
We report three experiments investigating whether people’s judgments about causal relationships are sensitive to the robustness or stability of such relationships across a range of background circumstances. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that people are more willing to endorse causal and explanatory claims based on stable (as opposed to unstable) relationships, even when the overall causal strength of the relationship is held constant. In Experiment 2, we show that this effect is not driven by a causal generalization’s actual scope of (...) application. In Experiment 3, we offer evidence that stable causal relationships may be seen as better guides to action. Collectively, these experiments document a previously underappreciated factor that shapes people’s causal reasoning: the stability of the causal relationship. (shrink)
There is a systematic and suggestive analogy between grounding and causation. In my view, this analogy is no coincidence. Grounding and causation are alike because grounding is a type of causation: metaphysical causation. In this paper I defend the identification of grounding with metaphysical causation, drawing on the causation literature to explore systematic connections between grounding and metaphysical dependence counterfactuals, and I outline a non-reductive counterfactual theory of grounding along interventionist lines.
This book develops a novel argument which combines the Kalam with the Thomistic Cosmological Argument. It approaches an ongoing dispute concerning whether there is a First Cause of time from a radically new point of view, namely by demonstrating that there is such a First Cause without requiring the controversial arguments against concrete infinities and against traversing an actual infinite (although the book presents original defenses of these arguments as well). This book also develops a novel philosophical argument for the (...) Causal Principle, namely that ‘everything that begins to exist has a cause’, and offers a detailed discussion on whether a First Cause of time can be avoided by a causal loop. It also addresses epistemological issues related to the Cosmological Argument which have been relatively neglected by recent publications, and demonstrates (contra Hawking et al) the continual relevance and significance of philosophy for answering ultimate questions. -/- . (shrink)
Sophie Gibb has recently invented a very interesting strategy against Kim’s causal exclusion argument. This strategy adopts the powers theory of causation and an interpretation of mental causation in terms of double prevention. Gibb’s strategy results both in invalidating the principle of the causal closure of the physical domain in most of its formulations and in disarming the argument in question. In my paper, I present a general procedure for the opponents of reductive physicalism which enables them to _grapple successfully_ (...) with the mentioned principle. I also argue that although it could be possible to adopt Gibb’s strategy as a part of this procedure, there is a simpler one to obtain a similar outcome. This strategy is mainly based on Uwe Meixner’s causal argument against physicalism and it leads to the conclusion that if one accepts the principle of sufficient cause, then one should reject the principle of causal closure in the light of some empirical data. This alternative proposal is more attractive than Gibb’s solution, since it is independent of any conception of causation, does not make any distinction between causal relevance and causal efficacy, and does not refer to the notion of _double prevention_. (shrink)
Contemporary debates about mechanisms in the philosophy of science raise the question about the relation between constitutive and causal relations. These discussions so far have not received Ernest Sosa’s “Varieties of Causation‘, which addresses similar questions from a metaphysical point of view. The present paper reconstructs and evaluates Sosa’s arguments from the perspective of the contemporary debates. We argue that while Sosa’s arguments are probably not suited to advance the current debate, his claim that there are different varieties of causation (...) might be an interesting idea to consider for those who assume that there are interlevel causal relations. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the question of the ways we might form enabling assemblages with non-human others, by returning to Spinoza’s theory of the composite individual. The challenge, as I see it, is less that of a need to move beyond a romanticized view of Nature as a harmonious whole, Nature as a perpetual threat, or Nature as motivated by a final cause (whether good or evil). The problem that confronts us, rather, is a problem of composition—which Nature do (...) we ally with, what components? How do we understand or define, much less defend, localized ecosystems which are supported (and threatened) by a dizzying and infinite array of intensive and extensive properties? This is a problem of the monstrous infinite. (shrink)
This book gives the first complete, fully historicized account of Emerson's metaphysics of cause and effect and its foundational position in his philosophy as a whole. Joseph Urbas proposes an intellectual biography of Emerson the metaphysician but also the life-story of a concept synonymous, in the Transcendentalist period, with life itself—the story of the principle at the origin of all being and change.
That there is no substance causation is often treated as the default position. My aim in this paper is primarily one of burden shifting: opponents of substance causation must do more to defend their position. After outlining the thesis I wish to defend, I present a simple argument for substance causation, arguing that opponents of substance causation owe us an explanation of why this argument is unsound. I end by answering objections to the view that substances can be causes.
Ernst Mayr’s classical work on the nature of causation in biology has had a huge influence on biologists as well as philosophers. Although his distinction between proximate and ultimate causation recently came under criticism from those who emphasize the role of development in evolutionary processes, the formal relationship between these two notions remains elusive. Using causal graph theory, this paper offers a unified framework to systematically translate a given “proximate” causal structure into an “ultimate” evolutionary response, and illustrates evolutionary implications (...) of various kinds of causal mechanisms including epigenetic inheritance, maternal effects, and niche construction. These results not only reveal the essential interplay between proximate and ultimate causation in the study of evolution, but also provide a formal method to evaluate or discover non-standard or yet unknown evolutionary phenomena. (shrink)
Downward causation exercised by emergent properties of wholes upon their lower-level constituents’ properties has been accused of conceptual and metaphysical incoherence. Only upward causation is usually peacefully accepted. The aim of this paper is to criticize and refuse the traditional hierarchical-vertical way of conceiving both types of causation, although preserving their deepest ontological significance, as well as the widespread acceptance of the traditional atomistic-combinatorial view of the entities and the relations that constitute the so-called ‘emergence base’. Assuming those two perspectives (...) with no reserves, we are condemned to confine our debate to the question of whether reified wholes can have the power to downwardly change or influence their lower-level parts, a question which seems profoundly misleading to me. I therefore propose an alternative relational ontological view, assuming a straightforward horizontal and intra-level way of representing those putative cases of cross-level causation. I finally confront two recent replies to Kim’s well-known objections to DC—Craver and Bechtel and Kistler :595–609, 2009)—, emphasizing their global positive approaches, as well as the reasons why their accounts still seem insufficient to me. I conclude arguing that both Kim’s principle of the causal closure of the physical domain and its allegation of an overdetermination in cases of DC can be surpassed by the new relational ontological perspective presented here. (shrink)
Resumo O autor defenderá, por um lado, a existência dos objectos abstractos e, por outro, o seu papel causal, numa ontologia platónica, tal como enquadrada por Roderick Chisholm. Se plausível, a natureza e o papel dos abstracta sob a forma de estados de coisas, oferecem-nos razões para acreditar em uma descrição bem-sucedida e explicativa da intencionalidade humana e animal que não está encerrada no mundo físico. Palavras-chave : causalidade, encerramento causal, fisicalismo, objectos abstractos, platonismo, Roderick ChisholmA defense of the existence (...) and causal role of abstract objects in a Platonic ontology as influenced by the work of Roderick Chisholm. If plausible, the nature and role of abstracta in the form of states of affairs gives us some reason to believe that a successful description and explanation of human and animal intentionality that is not closed to the physical world. Keywords : abstract objects, causal closure, causation, physicalism, platonism, Roderick Chisholm. (shrink)
Current philosophical accounts of causation suggest that the same causal assertion can have different meanings. Yet, in actual social-scientific practice, the possible meanings of some causal generalisations intended to support policy prescriptions are not always spelled out. In line with a standard referentialist approach to semantics, we propose and elaborate on four questions to systematically elucidate the meaning of causal generalisations. The analysis can be useful to a host of agents, including social scientists, policy-makers, and philosophers aiming at being socially (...) relevant. To illustrate our proposal, we analyse the complexities related to the meaning of causal generalisations in the context of a concrete case of economic research which is explicitly intended to guide public policy, namely, the OECD research on the causes of unemployment. (shrink)
This essay is concerned with concentrations of entities, which play an important—albeit often overlooked—role in scientific explanation. First, I discuss an example from molecular biology to show that concentrations can play an irreducible causal role. Second, I provide a preliminary philosophical analysis of this causal role, suggesting some implications for extant theories of causation. I conclude by introducing the concept of causation by concentration, a form of statistical causation whose widespread presence throughout the sciences has been unduly neglected and which (...) deserves to be studied in more depth. 1 Introduction2 Solving Lillie's Paradox: Lysogenic Induction in Phage λ3 Repressor Concentration and the Tuning of the Switch4 Concentration and Causality5 Preemption in Concentrations: Analysis and Implications6 Causation by Concentration: General Definition, Refinements, and Further Applications. (shrink)
This paper considers and criticises what appears to be a suggestion by Hart and Honore in 'Causation in the Law' that there is a category of basic doings, which ought not themselves to be regarded as causings. It argues instead that all actions are causings by the agent.
The majority of the currently flourishing theories of actual causation are located in a broadly counterfactual framework that draws on structural equations. In order to account for cases of symmetric overdeterminiation and preemption, these theories resort to rather intricate analytical tools, most of all, to what Hitchcock has labeled explicitly nonforetracking counterfactuals. This paper introduces a regularity theoretic approach to actual causation that only employs material conditionals, standard Boolean minimization procedures, and a stability condition that regulates the behavior of causal (...) models under model expansions. Notwithstanding its lightweight analytical toolbox, this regularity theory performs at least as well as the structural equations accounts with their heavy appliances. (shrink)
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. (...) She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney’s argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. (shrink)
Introduction , Sophie Gibb 1. Mental Causation , John Heil 2. Physical Realization without Preemption , Sydney Shoemaker 3. Mental Causation in the Physical World , Peter Menzies 4. Mental Causation: Ontology and Patterns of Variation , Paul Noordhof 5. Causation is Macroscopic but not Irreducible , David Papineau 6. Substance Causation, Powers, and Human Agency , E. J. Lowe 7. Agent Causation in a Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics , Jonathan D. Jacobs and Timothy O’Connor 8. Mental Causation and Double Prevention , (...) Sophie Gibb 9. The Identity Theory as a Solution to the Exclusion Problem , David Robb 10. Continuant Causation, Fundamentality, and Freedom , Peter Simons 11. There is no Exclusion Problem , Steinvor Tholl Arnadottir and Tim Crane. (shrink)
Hall has recently argued that there are two concepts of causality, picking out two different kinds of causal relation. McGrath, and Hitchcock and Knobe, have recently argued that the facts about causality depend on what counts as a “default” or “normal” state, or even on the moral facts. In the light of these claims you might be tempted to agree with Skyrms that causal relations constitute, metaphysically speaking, an “amiable jumble”, or with Cartwright that ‘causation’, though a single word, encompasses (...) many different kinds of things. This paper argues, drawing on the author’s recent work on explanation, that the evidence adduced in support of causal pluralism can be accommodated easily by a unified theory of causality—a theory according to which all singular causal claims concern the same fundamental causal network. (shrink)
Does mere passage of time have causal powers ? Are properties like "being n days past" causally efficient ? A pervasive intuition among metaphysicians seems to be that they don't. Events and/or objects change, and they cause or are caused by other events and/or objects; but one does not see how just the mere passage of time could cause any difference in the world. In this paper, I shall discuss a case where it seems that mere passage of time does (...) have causal powers : Sydney Shoemaker's (1969) possible world where temporal vacua (allegedly) take place. I shall argue that Shoemaker's thought-experiment doesn't really aim at teaching us that there can be time without change, but rather that if such a scenario is plausible at all (as I think it is) it provides us with good reasons to think that mere passage of time can be directly causally efficient. (shrink)
The present paper deals with the tools that can be used to represent causation and to reason about it and, specifically, with their diversity. It focuses on so-called “causal probabilities”—that is, probabilities of effects given one of their causes—and critically surveys a recent paper in which Joyce argues that the values of these probabilities do not depend on one’s conception of causation. I first establish a stronger independence claim: I show that the very definition of causal probabilities is independent of (...) one’s conception of causation. Second, I investigate whether causal probabilities indeed take the same values under their different possible definitions. (shrink)