Foundations for a Realist Theory of Causality

Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada) (1997)

William R. Minto
Southern New Hampshire University
This thesis presents a sustained case in favour of the plausibility and coherence of a realist conception of causality, as opposed to the anti-realist conception associated with Hume. Four foundational issues for the theory of causality are addressed: the detectability of causality in experience, the implicit generality of singular causal relations, the validity of the notions of natures and causal powers, and the reality of causal necessity. ;The thought of Thomas Reid, H. W. B. Joseph, Rom Harre, E. H. Madden, C. J. Ducasse, John Searle, Nancy Cartwright and others, is synthesized and extended to render a unified realistic treatment of the metaphysics of causality that avoids a number of objections that have been raised against traditional Aristotelian causal realism. ;The major findings of this study are as follows: Hume's causal anti-realism is an outcome of his sensationalism and phenomenalism, doctrines of mind and knowledge that are open to refutation. Without these foundational tenets in place, causal anti-realism loses considerable force. Causality is, in some cases, detectable--under ideal conditions, in visual perception, and in the proprioceptive detection of volitional efficacy. These cases of causality-detection provide the primitive empirical content of our causal concepts, which can be extended from the volitional context to non-volitional contexts in a way that avoids charges of animism. The detectable instances of causality support singularism--the thesis of the primacy of singular causes, against the regularity view. The concepts of "natures" and "powers" are shown to play indispensable roles in action explanation and in experimental reasoning in the sciences and are therefore valid. Drawing a distinction between type and token determinism, the necessity attaching to the time-evolution of causal processes is characterized. Causality so described is shown to be consistent non-linear systems, a causal-realist interpretation of quantum mechanics and with human volition
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
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: 56,949
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

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Metaphysics of Causality.David Mayers Robb - 1996 - Dissertation, Cornell University
Causality Reunified.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):299-320.
Causal Concepts in Chemical Vernaculars.Rom Harré - 2010 - Foundations of Chemistry 12 (2):101-115.
Dispositional Versus Epistemic Causality.Jon Williamson - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (3):259-276.
Social Objects, Causality and Contingent Realism.Malcolm Williams - 2009 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 39 (1):1-18.
Perdurance and Causal Realism.M. Gregory Oakes - 2004 - Erkenntnis 60 (2):205-227.
Probability and Causality.Richard Edward Otte - 1982 - Dissertation, The University of Arizona


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes