In Metaphysical Essays. Oxford University Press (2006)

John Hawthorne
Australian Catholic University
Daniel Nolan
University of Notre Dame
As is well known, Aristotelian natural philosophy, and many other systems of natural philosophy since, have relied heavily on teleology and teleological causation. Somehow, the purpose or end of an obj ect can be used to predict and explain what that object does: once you know that the end of an acorn is to become an oak, and a few things about what sorts of circumstances are conducive to the attainment of this end, you can predict a lot about the sprouting of the acorn and the subsequent behaviour of the piece of vegetation that results. Once you know that a rock seeks to move towards the centre of the Earth, you gain some insight into why it falls when released, and why it deforms the carpet or foot that it lands on. Once you know that the rabbit seeks to preserve itself, you can predict it will run from the fox. And so on. There are at least three features of Aristotle’s teleology, and more generally of an Aristotelian frame of mind about teleology, that may induce suspicion. One is that an end can serve as a "cause": as well as the sort of causation we all recognize, efficient causation, there are other forms, one of which is teleological causation. However, this can look less odd if we think of causes as things that figure in "because" answers to "why" questions. Whether or not self-preservation, or the rabbit’s continued existence, or something similar, causes the rabbit to run, the reply "because it seeks to continue in existence" certainly makes sense as an answer, or part of an answer, to a question about why it ran from the fox. (At present we are only.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,401
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The World Just Is the Way It Is.David Builes - 2021 - The Monist 104 (1):1-27.
Counting Incompossibles.Peter Fritz & Jeremy Goodman - 2017 - Mind 126 (504):1063–1108.

View all 73 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Causal is Downward Causation?Menno Hulswit - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):261 - 287.
Desire and Natural Classification: Aristotle and Peirce on Final Cause.Stephen B. Hawkins - 2007 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 43 (3):521 - 541.
Teleological Notions in Biology.Colinn D. Allen - 2003 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.
Cause and Norm.Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.


Added to PP index

Total views
486 ( #15,503 of 2,445,466 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
19 ( #38,297 of 2,445,466 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes