The Proportionality Argument and the Problem of Widespread Causal Overdetermination

Disputatio 12 (59):331-355 (2020)
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The consensus is that repeatable artworks cannot be identified with particular material individuals. A perennial temptation is to identify them with types, broadly construed. Such identification, however, faces the so-called “Creation Problem.” This problem stems from the fact that, on the one hand, it seems reasonable to accept the claims that (1) repeatable artworks are types, (2) types cannot be created, and (3) repeatable artworks are created, but, on the other hand, these claims are mutually inconsistent. A possible solution to the Creation Problem is to argue that claim (2) can be rejected because (a) the only motivation for it is that a type, being abstract, cannot stand in causal relations, but (b) this motivation is ungrounded, since types can, in fact, stand in such relations. Clearly, in order for this solution to be successful, it is necessary to substantiate the possibility of types to be causally efficacious. In this essay, I examine an attempt to do this with the help of Yablo’s principle of proportionality, which has been undertaken by Walters (2013) and, more recently, Juvshik (2018). Although the argument they advance may seem to provide strong support for the causal efficacy of types, I think it actually fails to do this. To explain why this is so, I first show that this argument commits us to the existence of widespread causal overdetermination involving types and then argue that this commitment is both epistemically and ontologically problematic.



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Alexey Aliyev
National Research University Higher School of Economics

Citations of this work

Musical Ontology and the Audibility of Musical Works.Sofía Meléndez Gutiérrez - 2023 - British Journal of Aesthetics 63 (3):333-350.

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References found in this work

Ockham’s Razors: A User’s Manual.Elliott Sober - 2015 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mental causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
The principles of art.R. G. Collingwood - 1938 - New York,: Oxford University Press.
Creatures of Fiction.Peter van Inwagen - 1977 - American Philosophical Quarterly 14 (4):299 - 308.

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