Causation, Pluralism and Responsibility

Philosophica 77 (1) (2006)
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Counterfactual theories of causation have had difficulty in delivering the intuitively correct verdicts for cases of causation involving preemption, without generating further counterexamples. Hall has offered a pluralistic theory of causation, according to which there are two concepts of causation: counterfactual dependence and production. Hall’s theory does deliver the correct verdicts for many of the problematic kinds of preemption. It also deals successfully with cases of causation by omission, which have proved stubborn counterexamples to physical process theories of causation. Hall’s theory therefore appears to be a significant improvement on extant univocal theories of causation, both physical and counterfactual. In this paper I present a series of counterexamples to Hall’s theory. I also describe cases in which our causal judgments appear to be sensitive to moral considerations. It does not seem likely that conventional theories of causation, which attempt to situate causation in an objective metaphysical picture of the world, will ever accord our intuitions in such cases. Finally, the notion of responsibility is considered, but rejected as an illuminating primitive for analyzing causation.



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Francis Longworth
University of Birmingham

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Causation as influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Two concepts of causation.Ned Hall - 2004 - In John Collins, Ned Hall & Laurie Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press. pp. 225-276.
Causation.D. Lewis - 1973 - In Philosophical Papers Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 159-213.
Causing and Nothingness.Helen Beebee - 2004 - In L. A. Paul, E. J. Hall & J. Collins (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. pp. 291--308.

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