Causation as folk science

Philosophers' Imprint 3:1-22 (2003)

Abstract

I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to loose and varying collections of causal notions that form folk sciences of causation. This recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces.

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John D. Norton
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Cambridge, England: Allen & Unwin.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1998 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.

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Citations of this work

Causal Reasoning in Physics.Mathias Frisch - 2014 - Cambridge University Press.
Against Counterfactual Miracles.Cian Dorr - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (2):241-286.
Some Consequences of Physics for the Comparative Metaphysics of Quantity.David John Baker - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 12. Oxford University Press. pp. 75-112.

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