Causation as folk science

In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Philosophers' Imprint. Oxford University Press (2003)
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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 a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science 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

Citations of this work

The material theory of induction.John D. Norton - 2021 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada: University of Calgary Press.
Against Counterfactual Miracles.Cian Dorr - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (2):241-286.
Causal Reasoning in Physics.Mathias Frisch - 2014 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

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