Physical causation and difference-making

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):737-764 (2009)
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This paper examines the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making. It is plausible to think that such theories are compatible with one another as they are aimed at different targets: the former, an empirical account of actual causal relations; the latter, an account that will capture the truth of most of our ordinary causal claims. The question then becomes: what is the relationship between physical causation and difference-making? Is one kind of causal fact more fundamental than the other? This paper defends causal foundationalism: the view that facts about difference-making are dependent on the obtaining of facts about physical causation. However, the paper's main goal is to clarify the structure of the debate. At the end of the paper, it is shown how settling the issue about the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making has more than mere intrinsic interest in unifying the very different pursuits that have been undertaken in the philosophy of causation. It can help to break a stalemate that has arisen in the current debate about mental causation



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Alyssa Ney
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Don Ross, David Spurrett & John G. Collier.
Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.
Time and chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The cement of the universe.John Leslie Mackie - 1974 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.

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