Causes as Explanations: A Critique

Abstract

This paper offers a critique of the view that causation can be analyzed in terms of explanation. In particular, the following points are argued: a genuine explanatory analysis of causation must make use of a fully epistemological-psychological notion of explanation; it is unlikely that the relatively clear-cut structure of the causal relation can be captured by the relatively unstructured relation of explanation; the explanatory relation does not always parallel the direction of causation; certain difficulties arise for any attempt to construct a nonrelativistic relation of causation from the essentially relativistic relation of explanation; and to analyze causation as explanation is to embrace a form of “causal idealism”, the view that causal connections are not among the objective features of the world. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the contrast between the two fundamentally opposed viewpoints about causality, namely causal idealism and causal realism.

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2010-07-21

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Author's Profile

Jaegwon Kim
Last affiliation: Brown University

Citations of this work

The quest for optimality: A positive heuristic of science?Paul J. H. Schoemaker - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (2):205-215.
Backing as Truthmaking.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):367–383.
Explanatory exclusion and mental explanation.Dwayne Moore - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (3):390-404.
Extremum descriptions, process laws and minimality heuristics.Elliott Sober - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (2):232-233.

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