Recently several thought experiments have been developed (by John Carroll amongst others) which have been alleged to refute the Ramsey-Lewis view of laws of nature. The paper aims to show that two such thought experiments fail to establish that the Ramsey-Lewis view is false, since they presuppose a conception of laws of nature that is radically at odds with the Humean conception of laws embodied by the Ramsey-Lewis view. In particular, the thought experiments presuppose that laws of nature govern the (...) behavior of objects. The paper argues that the claim that laws govern should not be regarded as a conceptual truth, and shows how the governing conception of laws manifests itself in the thought experiments. Hence the thought experiments do not constitute genuine counter-examples to the Ramsey-Lewis view. since the Humean is free to reject the conception of laws which the thought experiments presuppose. (shrink)
In this paper Beebee argues that the problem of induction, which she describes as a genuine sceptical problem, is the same for Humeans than for Necessitarians. Neither scientific essentialists nor Armstrong can solve the problem of induction by appealing to IBE, for both arguments take an illicit inductive step.
Humean compatibilism is the combination of a Humean position on laws of nature and the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. This article's aim is to situate Humean compatibilism in the current debate among libertarians, traditional compatibilists, and semicompatibilists about free will. We argue that a Humean about laws can hold that there is a sense in which the laws of nature are 'up to us' and hence that the leading style of argument for incompatibilism?the consequence argument?has a (...) false premiss. We also display some striking similarities between Humean compatibilism and libertarianism, an incompatibilist view. For example, standard libertarians face a problem about luck, and we show that Humean compatibilists face a very similar problem. (shrink)
Causation is a central topic in many areas of philosophy. In metaphysics, philosophers want to know what causation is, and how it is related to laws of nature, probability, action, and freedom of the will. In epistemology, philosophers investigate how causal claims can be inferred from statistical data, and how causation is related to perception, knowledge and explanation. In the philosophy of mind, philosophers want to know whether and how the mind can be said to have causal efficacy, and in (...) ethics, whether there is a moral distinction between acts and omissions and whether the moral value of an act can be judged according to its consequences. And causation is a contested concept in other fields of enquiry, such as biology, physics, and the law. This book provides an in-depth and comprehensive overview of these and other topics, as well as the history of the causation debate from the ancient Greeks to the logical empiricists. The chapters provide surveys of contemporary debates, while often also advancing novel and controversial claims; and each includes a comprehensive bibliography and suggestions for further reading. The book is thus the most comprehensive source of information about causation currently available, and will be invaluable for upper-level undergraduates through to professional philosophers. (shrink)
Hume is traditionally credited with inventing the ‘regularity theory’ of causation, according to which the causal relation between two events consists merely in the fact that events of the first kind are always followed by events of the second kind. Hume is also traditionally credited with two other, hugely influential positions: the view that the world appears to us as a world of unconnected events, and inductive scepticism: the view that the ‘problem of induction’, the problem of providing a justification (...) for inference from observed to unobserved regularities, is insoluble. Hume on Causation is the first major work dedicated to Hume’s views on causation in over fifteen years, and it argues that Hume does not subscribe to any of these three views. It places Hume’s interest in causation within the context of his theory of the mind and his theory of causal reasoning, arguing that Hume’s conception of causation derives from his conception of the nature of the inference from causes to effects. (shrink)
According to ‘regularity theories’ of causation, the obtaining of causal relations depends on no more than the obtaining of certain kinds of regularity. Regularity theorists are thus anti-realists about necessary connections in nature. Regularity theories of one form or another have constituted the dominant view in analytic Philosophy for a long time, but have recently come in for some robust criticism, notably from Galen Strawson. Strawson’s criticisms are natural criticisms to make, but have not so far provoked much response from (...) regularity theorists. The paper considers and rebuts Strawson’s objections. For example, Strawson claims that if there were no necessary connections in nature, we ought continually to find the regularity of the Universe surprising. I argue that the fact that the Universe is regular is something we take ourselves (fallibly) to know, and hence, in the light of this knowledge, its continued orderliness is not at all surprising. -/- . (shrink)
The paper considers whether psychiatric kinds can be natural kinds and concludes that they can. This depends, however, on a particular conception of ‘natural kind’. We briefly describe and reject two standard accounts – what we call the ‘stipulative account’ (according to which apparently a priori criteria, such as the possession of intrinsic essences, are laid down for natural kindhood) and the ‘Kripkean account’ (according to which the natural kinds are just those kinds that obey Kripkean semantics). We then rehearse (...) a more permissive account: Richard Boyd’s ‘homeostatic property cluster’ (HPC) account. We argue that psychiatric kinds can in principle count as natural kinds on the HPC account. Moreover, specific psychiatric kinds (Tourette’s, schizophrenia, etc.) can be natural kinds even if the category psychiatric disorder is not itself a natural kind. (shrink)
Making a Difference presents fifteen original essays on causation and counterfactuals by an international team of experts. Collectively, they represent the state of the art on these topics. The essays in this volume are inspired by the life and work of Peter Menzies, who made a difference in the lives of students, colleagues, and friends. Topics covered include: the semantics of counterfactuals, agency theories of causation, the context-sensitivity of causal claims, structural equation models, mechanisms, mental causation, causal exclusion argument, free (...) will, and the consequence argument. (shrink)
Essentialism--roughly, the view that natural kinds have discrete essences, generating truths that are necessary but knowable only _a posteriori_--is an increasingly popular view in the metaphysics of science. At the same time, philosophers of language have been subjecting Kripke’s views about the existence and scope of the necessary _a posteriori_ to rigorous analysis and criticism. Essentialists typically appeal to Kripkean semantics to motivate their radical extension of the realm of the necessary _a posteriori_; but they rarely attempt to provide any (...) semantic arguments for this extension, or engage with the critical work being done by philosophers of language. This collection brings authors on both sides together in one volume, thus helping the reader to see the connections between views in philosophy of language on the one hand and the metaphysics of science on the other. The result is a book that will have a significant impact on the debate about essentialism, encouraging essentialists to engage with debates about the semantic presuppositions that underpin their position, and, encouraging philosophers of language to engage with the metaphysical presuppositions enshrined in Kripkean semantics. (shrink)
Revisionist approaches to the ethics of war seem to imply that civilians on the unjust side of a conflict can be legitimate targets of defensive attack. In response, some authors have argued that although civilians do often causally contribute to unjustified global threats – by voting for war, writing propaganda articles, or manufacturing munitions, for example – their contributions are usually too ‘small’, or ‘remote’, to make them liable to be intentionally killed to avert the threat. What defenders of this (...) view lack, however, is a theory of causal contribution. This article sketches and defends a theory of causal contribution. We then apply it to the kinds of situation that defenders of the view are interested in. We argue, however, that since degrees of causal contribution turn out to be sensitive to particular features of the situation that are extrinsic to the agent's action, whether an agent makes a small or a large contribution to a threat may not only be very difficult to discern but in many cases may not line up very well with the kinds of intuition about liability that defenders of the view want to uphold. (shrink)
In a recent paper (Bird 2001), Alexander Bird argues that the law that common salt dissolves in water is metaphysically necessary - and he does so without presupposing dispositionalism about properties. If his argument were sound, it would thus show that at least one law of nature is meta- physically necessary, and it would do so without illicitly presupposing a position (dispositionalism) that is already committed to a necessitarian view of laws. I shall argue that Bird's argument is unsuccesful.
Hume's two definitions of causation have caused an extraordinary amount of controversy. The starting point for the controversy is the fact, well known to most philosophy undergraduates, that the two definitions aren't even extensionally equivalent, let alone semantically equivalent. So how can they both be definitions? One response to this problem has been to argue that Hume intends only the first as a genuine definition—an interpretation that delivers a straightforward regularity interpretation of Hume on causation. By many commentators' lights, however, (...) this is a bug rather than a feature: such an account of the two definitions leaves necessary connection out of Hume's story about the meaning of "cause" .. (shrink)
Singularists about causation often claim that we can have experiences as of causation. This paper argues that regularity theorists need not deny that claim; hence the possibility of causal experience is no objection to regularity theories of causation. The fact that, according to a regularity theorist, causal experience requires background theory does not provide grounds for denying that it is genuine experience. The regularity theorist need not even deny that non-inferential perceptual knowledge of causation is possible, despite the fact that (...) such knowledge would sometimes allow us to make inferences about what happens in far-off places and times. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Michael Huemer provides a new interpretation for ‘N’, the operator that occurs in Peter van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument, and argues that, given that interpretation, the Consequence Argument is sound. I have no quarrel with Huemer’s claim that the Consequence Argument is valid. I shall argue instead that his defense of its premises—a defense that allegedly involves refuting David Lewis’s response to van Inwagen—is unsuccessful.
This comprehensive introductory guide includes discussion of the major contemporary positions on compatibilism and incompatibilism, and of the central arguments that are a focus of the current debate, including the Consequence Argument, manipulation arguments, and Frankfurt's famous argument against the 'Principle of Alternate Possibilities.
John Martin Fischer argues that a version of the Consequence Argument that invokes a principle he calls the ‘Principle of the Fixity of the Past and Laws’ is immune to the broadly Lewisian response that the compatibilist can make to the ‘conditional’ version of the argument. In his contribution to this volume, he argues—in part by appealing to backtracking counterfactuals—that denying PFPL leads to trouble, specifically, for the fixed-laws compatibilist. I argue on behalf of the fixed-laws compatibilist that his argument (...) fails: true backtrackers of the kind Fischer’s argument needs are harder to come by than Fischer supposes, and in any case their truth is not something that can be known, prior to decision, by the deliberating agent. (shrink)
_‘Informative, accessible, and fun to read— this is an excellent reference guide for undergraduates and anyone wanting an introduction to the fundamental issues of metaphysics. I know of no other resource like it.’– __Meghan Griffith, Davidson College, USA_ _'Marvellous! This book provides the very best place to start for students wanting to take the first step into understanding metaphysics.Undergraduates would do well to buy it and consult it regularly. The quality and clarity of the material are consistently high.' – __Chris (...) Daly, University of Manchester, UK_ Ever wondered about Gunk, Brains in a Vat or Frankfurt’s Nefarious Neurosurgeon? With complete explanations of these terms and more, _Metaphysics: The Key Concepts_ is an accessible and engaging introduction to the most widely studied and challenging concepts in metaphysics. The authors clearly and lucidly define and discuss key terms and concepts, under the themes of: time particulars & universals realism & antirealism free will personal identity causation and laws. Arranged in an easy to use A-Z format, each concept is explored and illustrated with engaging and memorable examples, and accompanied by an up-to-date guide to further reading. Fully cross-referenced throughout, this remarkable reference guide is essential reading for students of philosophy and all those interested in the nature of reality. (shrink)
In an outline of a paper found amongst his philosophical papers and correspondence after his untimely death in 2001—“Nihil Obstat: An Analysis of Ability,” reproduced in this volume—David Lewis sketched a new compatibilist account of abilities, according to which someone is able to A if and only if there is no obstacle to their A-ing, where an obstacle is a ‘robust preventer’ of their A-ing. In this paper, we provide some background context for Lewis’s outline, a section-by-section commentary, and a (...) general discussion of the account’s main features. (shrink)
Louise Antony draws a now well-known distinction between two explanatory models for researching and addressing the issue of women’s underrepresentation in philosophy – the ‘Different Voices’ (DV) and ‘Perfect Storm’ (PS) models – and argues that, in view of PS’s considerably higher social value, DV should be abandoned. We argue that Antony misunderstands the feminist framework that she takes to underpin DV, and we reconceptualise DV in a way that aligns with a proper understanding of the metaphilosophical framework that underpins (...) it. On the basis of that reconceptualisation – together with the rejection of her claim that DV posits ‘cognitive’ differences between women and men – we argue that Antony’s negative assessment of DV’s social value is mistaken. And, we argue, this conclusion does not depend on endorsing the relevant feminist metaphilosophical framework. Whatever our metaphilosophical commitments, then, we should all agree that DV research should be actively pursued rather than abandoned. (shrink)
‘Natural kind essentialism’—here defined as the view that (i) the existence of natural kinds is a mind- and theory-independent matter, (ii) their essences are intrinsic, and (iii) they have a hierarchical structure—is commonly thought to be justified by appeal to Kripke–Putnam semantics, according to which propositions like ‘water is H20’ are necessary a posteriori. This chapter argues that the Kripke–Putnam semantics is in fact compatible with the denial of each of the three tenets of natural kind essentialism. The basic argument (...) is that, assuming the range of natural kinds goes beyond those kinds for which we have vernacular names, deference to scientific theories is required in fixing the reference of natural kind terms. That those theories describe mind- and theory-independent reality, and that they do not admit a non-hierarchical structure for the categories they deploy, are theses that are independent of anything derivable from Kripke–Putnam semantics itself. (shrink)
Modality is standardly thought to come in two varieties: de dicto and de re. De re modality concerns the attribution of modal features to things or individuals, and enshrines a commitment to Aristotelian essentialism. This chapter considers how David Lewis's conception of de re modality fits into his overall metaphysics. The hypothesis is that the driving force behind his metaphysics in general, and his adherence to counterpart theory in particular, is the distinctly Humean thought that necessary connections between distinct existences (...) are literally unintelligible. Lewis's appeal to counterpart theory in his account of truthmakers is explicitly aimed at delivering a truthmaker principle that eschews necessary connections. Lewis's attitude towards several well‐rehearsed debates in contemporary ontology and the reasons underlying that attitude closely mirror Hume's incendiary verdict on "divinity and school metaphysics." Finally, de re modality is connected with his adherence to the doctrine of "Humean supervenience". (shrink)
Scepticism concerning the idea of causation being linked to contingent chance-raising is articulated in Beebee’s challenging chapter. She suggests that none of these approaches will avoid the consequence that spraying defoliant on a weed is a cause of the weed’s subsequent health. We will always be able to abstract away enough of the healthy plant processes so all that’s left is the causal chain involving defoliation and health. In those circumstances, there will be contingent chance-raising. Beebee’s conclusion is that we (...) should reject the idea of contingent chance-raising and just accept that all causation involves chance-raising. This involves the reclassification of some intuitive cases of causation as causal processes without causation but rather hindering (a distinctive kind of process). It seems clear from this discussion and from the brief earlier remarks about the status of prevention that the classification of types of causal processes and the characterization of their link to causation are matters of some importance. (shrink)