Negative causation in causal and mechanistic explanation

Synthese 190 (3):449-469 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Instances of negative causation—preventions, omissions, and the like—have long created philosophical worries. In this paper, I argue that concerns about negative causation can be addressed in the context of causal explanation generally, and mechanistic explanation specifically. The gravest concern about negative causation is that it exacerbates the problem of causal promiscuity—that is, the problem that arises when a particular account of causation identifies too many causes for a particular effect. In the explanatory context, the problem of promiscuity can be solved by characterizing the phenomenon to be explained as a contrast between two or more events or non-events. This contrastive strategy also can solve other problems that negative causation presents for the leading accounts of mechanistic explanation. Along the way, I argue that to be effective, accounts of causal explanation must incorporate negative causation. I also develop a taxonomy of negative causation and incorporate each variety of negative causation into the leading accounts of mechanistic explanation.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,466

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Against the Contrastive Account of Singular Causation.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):115-143.
Natural Selection and Multi-Level Causation.Maximiliano Martínez & Andrés Moya - 2011 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 3 (20130604).

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-11-09

Downloads
189 (#65,945)

6 months
4 (#171,816)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?