Causation is important. It is, as Hume said, the cement of the universe, and lies at the heart of our conceptual structure. Causation is one of the most fundamental tools we have for organizing our apprehension of the external world and ourselves. But philosophers' disagreement about the correct interpretation of causation is as limitless as their agreement about its importance. The history of attempts to elucidate the nature of this concept and to situate it with respect to other fundamental concepts (...) is almost as long as the history of philosophy itself. In this first English translation of Causalite; et lois de la nature Max Kistler seeks to reconstruct a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. It will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics; and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of causation and law play a prominent role. (shrink)
Professor Lindsay [Class. Rev. XLII. , p. 20] has drawn attention to a Celtic paralle to Aquilo, the Black Wind . A less remote parallel was found by Salmasius [Plin. Exerc. in Solinum , p. 1258D] in the gloss melatnboros uulturnus, on which he makes the following comment: ‘Glossae nostrae nondum editae: ‘ Septenirio, ΚЄρκίίας, Circius, Χωρupbs, Chaurus. Eaedem Glossae Volturnum Graece exponunt. An Volturnum quasi Volturinum idest nigrum dictum earum putauit auctor? Sed haec expositio conuenit Aquiloni, qui est (...) μέλαςβορέαςƋς, unde et Aquilo id est aquilus uentus, casco uocabulo niger. ’He adds that the wind Volturnus was really so called because it blew towards Rome from Volturnum. (shrink)
This is the first English translation of _Causalite´ et Lois de La Nature,_ and is an important contribution to the theory of causation_._ Max Kistler reconstructs a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes, and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. This book will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics, and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of (...) causation and law play a prominent role. (shrink)
Originally published in 1945, this book presents the content of the Girton College Founders' Memorial Lecture for that year, which was delivered by A. D. Lindsay. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in philosophy and the relationship between intelligence and morality.
The key idea of the interventionist account of causation is that a variable A causes a variable B if and only if B would change if A were manipulated in the appropriate way. This paper raises two problems for Woodward's (2003) version of interventionism. The first is that the conditions it imposes are not sufficient for causation, because these conditions are also satisfied by non-causal relations of nomological dependence expressed in association laws. Such laws ground a relation of mutual manipulability (...) that is incompatible with the asymmetry of causation. Several ways of defending the interventionist account are examined and found unsatisfying. The second problem is that it often seems to be impossible, in a model that contains variables linked by an association law, to satisfy the conditions imposed on interventions on such variables. Various ways to solve this second problem, most importantly the analysis of manipulability in terms of difference making, are examined. Given that none solves the problem, I conclude that the interventionist conditions are neither sufficient nor necessary for causation. It is suggested that they provide an analysis of nomological dependence, which may be supplemented with the notion of a causal process to yield an analysis of causation. (shrink)
An organization's management control system can play an important role in influencing ethical behavior among employees. In this paper a theoretical framework of control is developed by linking various ethics related control mechanisms reported in the literature to the primary components of a management control system. In addition, the findings of a survey of the Financial Post's Top 1 000 Canadian industrial and service companies are reported. The survey investigated organizations' use of ethical codes of conduct, whistleblowing systems, ethics committees, (...) judiciary boards, employee training in ethics, and ethics focused corporate governance and reward systems. The findings indicate that ethics related control mechanisms, particularly codes of conduct, are being used by a good number of organizations. However, closer analysis of the data suggests that many companies may only be paying lip service to the importance of promoting ethical behavior. (shrink)
Experimental investigation of mechanisms seems to make use of causal relations that cut across levels of composition. In bottom-up experiments, one intervenes on parts of a mechanism to observe the whole; in top-down experiments, one intervenes on the whole mechanism to observe certain parts of it. It is controversial whether such experiments really make use of interlevel causation, and indeed whether the idea of causation across levels is even conceptually coherent. Craver and Bechtel have suggested that interlevel causal claims can (...) be analysed in a causal and a non-causal component. I accept this idea but argue that their account should be modified so as to account of cases of apparent downward causation. First, constitution must be distinguished from identity; second, the analysis of downward causation requires the concept of a partial constraint. An analysis along these lines shows that the possibility of downward causation is not refuted by Kim's argument according to which it is incompatible with the completeness of physics. (shrink)
I propose an argument for the thesis that laws of nature are necessary in the sense of holding in all worlds sharing the properties of the actual world, on the basis of a principle I propose to call the Causal Criterion of Reality . The CCR says: for an entity to be real it is necessary and sufficient that it is capable to make a difference to causal interactions. The crucial idea here is that the capacity to interact causally - (...) or to contribute to determining causal interactions - is not only the ultimate metaphysical ground for the existence of an entity, but it also provides a criterion for determining the nature of that entity, i.e. its properties. The alternative is to conceive of laws of nature as contingent: they could be different from what they are like in the actual world, where that possibility is understood to be metaphysical, not only epistemic. For the sake of this paper, I shall accept Armstrong's thesis that laws of nature are relations between universals. I also follow Armstrong in the view that both the existence and the properties of particulars are metaphysically independent of the existence and identity of other particular. However, what is controversial and what I shall challenge is his thesis that universals are like particulars in the following respect: according to Armstrong, each universal is a logically distinct entity whose existence and identity is independent of the existence and identity of other universals. My aim in this paper is to show that the identity of a universal is entirely determined by its lawful relations to other universals. The crucial premise I use is the thesis that the CCR is a universal criterion, which applies both to particulars and universals. From the thesis that the identity of a universal is exclusively determined by laws, it follows that laws are necessary in the sense that they cannot differ without the universals they link also being different. This creates a difficulty for those authors who, as Armstrong, accept the CCR but nevertheless defend the view that laws are contingent. (shrink)
Prior to passage of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, opponents of assistance in dying argued that legalization would have serious harmful consequences. Specifically, they argued that the quality and availability of palliative care would decline, that the harms of legalization would affect certain vulnerable groups disproportionately, that legal assisted dying could not be confined to the competent terminally ill who voluntarily request assistance, and that the practice would result in frequent abuses. Data from Oregon's decade-long experience decisively refute the (...) first three predictions. As to abuses, the record is not quite as clear, but if an appropriate framework for analysis is utilized, the most reasonable conclusion is that the risks of abuse do not outweigh the benefits of legalization. To the extent projected harmful consequences are relevant to the debate over legalization, Oregon's experience argues in favor of legalization of assistance in dying. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I argue against the view that laws of nature are contingent, by attacking a necessary condition for its truth within the framework of a conception of laws as relations between universals. I try to show that there is no independent reason to think that universals have an essence independent of their nomological properties. However, such a non-qualitative essence is required to make sense of the idea that different laws link the same universals in (...) different possible worlds. In the second part, I give a positive argument for the necessity of at least some laws of nature, by showing with the example of a paradigmatic law of association that it consists in an internal relation between two universals which are determinables of the same class of determinates, where this relation is essential to both. Furthermore, I show that the necessity of laws of association could be accommodated within David Lewis' Humean metaphysics, but that it is incompatible with David Armstrong's combinatorialism. (shrink)
Over a whole range of challenges, the world is essentially undergoverned. New institutions are needed that recognize how much the world has changed and that mobilize those states most capable of meeting the dangers we confront.
The idea that causation can be reduced to transmission of an amount of some conserved quantity between events is spelled out and defended against important objections. Transmission is understood as a symmetrical relation of copresence in two distinct events. The actual asymmetry of causality has its origin in the asymmetrical character of certain irreversible physical processes and then spreads through the causal net. This conception is compatible with the possibility of backwards causation and with a causal theory of time. Genidentity, (...) the persistence of concrete objects, can be given an explanation in causal terms. The transmission theory is shown to escape difficulties faced by two important alternative theories of causation: Salmon's (1984) Mark Transmission Theory and Dowe's (1992a) Conserved Quantities Theory. (shrink)
During the last decades there has been a remarkable renewal of interest in theories of causation which is linked to the decline of the orthodoxy of the Logical empiricist school. A number of alternatives to the traditional covering-law account have been proposed. I shall defend a version of an approach that has been undeservedly neglected: the Transference Theory of causation. Accounts of this type elaborate the intuition that there is a material link between the cause and the effect, consisting of (...) something transmitted between them. (shrink)
There has been a recent flurry of work comparing and contrasting the respective methodologies of David Hume and his contemporary Thomas Reid. Both writers are explicit in their commitments to a Newtonian methodology. Yet they diverge radically on the issue of human liberty. In this paper I want to unpack the methodological commitments underlying the two different accounts of liberty. How is it that two avowed Newtonians end up diametrically opposed to one another with respect to such a fundamental aspect (...) of human mentality? (shrink)
I propose a realist theory of laws formulated in terms of tropes that avoids both the problems of the "best-systems-analysis" and the "inference problem" of realism of universals. I analyze the concept of an exceptional situation, characterized as a situation in which a particular object satisfies the antecedent but not the consequent of the regularity associated with a law, without thereby falsifying that law. To take this possibility into account, the properties linked by a law must be conceived as dispositional (...) and not necessarily manifest. (shrink)
The arrival of James Van Cleve’s Problems from Reid is somewhat akin to the experience of waiting ages for a bus only for several to arrive at the same time. It is a gargantuan book, weighing in at over 550 pages covering sixteen chapters and a remarkable twenty-six appendices.There have been several important single-author books on Reid in the last decade or so, from the likes of Gideon Yaffe and Ryan Nichols, and some impressive anthologies, such as those edited by (...) Patrick Rysiew, and by Todd Buras and Rebecca Copenhaver (Thomas Reid on... (shrink)
The heart of this thesis is an examination into the relevant differences between Nietzsche’s perspectivism and standpoint theory. Briefly, both standpoint theory and perspectivism have been subjected to various charges that dissolve into two major ones, which are worthy of additional scrutiny: the charges of essentialism and incoherence. My overall argument in thesis is that standpoint theory, in spite of recent feminist defense, is still susceptible to these charges, and this proves counterproductive to its aims of combatting marginalization. Moreover, I (...) argue that Nietzsche’s perspectivism provides a corrective to the short comings of standpoint theory. (shrink)
Maria Alvarez has argued that Thomas Reid’s account of action gives rise to a sceptical worry concerning one’s awareness of one’s own actions. Against this, I argue that Alvarez overstates the sceptical consequences of Reid’s admission that there is room for doubt about the actual causes of bodily movements; rather than generating a serious epistemological problem for his theory, it can be given a more plausible reading that serves to defuse the sceptical worry.
: There is a concern that genetic engineering will exacerbate existing social divisions and inequalities, especially if only the wealthy can afford genetic enhancements. Accordingly, many argue that justice requires the imposition of constraints on genetic engineering. However, it would be unwise to decide at this time what limits should be imposed in the future. Decision makers currently lack both the theoretical tools and the factual foundation for making sound judgments about the requirements of justice in a genetically transformed society. (...) Moreover, focusing on the uncertain inequities of the future may result in failure to give priority to more pressing inequities of the present. Especially in a country that recently has enacted tax legislation that will widen existing wealth disparities, concern about the distant threat of a genetic aristocracy appears misplaced. (shrink)
This paper examines a concrete political controversy in order to shed light on a broad philosophical issue. The controversy is with regard to who owns cultural antiquities ? the nations (often in the developing world) on whose soil they originated, or the museums of developed nations that have, through a variety of means, come into possession of them. Despite their opposing views, both sides accept the claim that ownership can be derived from prior facts about cultural identity. Moreover, when their (...) claims are articulated, each side?s arguments shed contrasting light on a broader question of property: are some things intrinsically common; that is, do some things have properties that undermine claims of private ownership? Following the logic inherent in arguments made on both sides, this paper defends an affirmative answer to these questions, and, in so doing, suggests that we need to broaden our perspective on publics goods generally. (shrink)
The concept of energy, the premier concept of physics and indeed of all science, is here investigated from the standpoint of its early historical origin and the philosophical implications thereof. The fundamental assumption is made that the root of the concept is the notion of invariance or constancy in the midst of change. Salient points in the development of this idea are presented from ancient times up to the publication of Lagrange'sMécanique Analytique (1788).
The functionalist conception of mental properties, together with their multiple realizability, is often taken to entail their irreducibility. It might seem that the only way to revise that judgement is to weaken the requirements traditionally imposed on reduction. However, Jaegwon Kim has recently argued that we should, on the contrary, strengthen those requirements, and construe reduction as what I propose to call “logical reduction”, a model of reduction inspired by emergentism. Moreover, Kim claims that what he calls “functional reduction” allows (...) one to reduce (at least some) mental properties by these new standards. I argue against both theses. First, I present a counterexample to the emergentist model of reduction: The model judges irreducible certain properties which are clearly reducible. Second, I contestthat functional reduction as construed by Kim satisfies the emergentist constraints. Functional reduction implies, over and above a functional definition of the reduced property, the indication of its realizers. But the latter information corresponding to the discovery of a (local) bridge law, is empirical and not purely logical. (shrink)
In E.J. Lowe's ontology, (individual) objects are property-bearers which 1) have identity and 2) are countable. This makes it possible to become or cease to be an object, by beginning or ceasing to fulfil one of these conditions. But the possibility of switching fundamental ontological categories should be excluded. Furthermore, Lowe does not show that “quasi-individuals” (which are not countable) can exist. I argue against Lowe that kinds cannot be property-bearers in a more genuine sense than properties, that they are (...) not absolutely countable, whether conceived according to science or common sense, and that they are dependent on individual objects. (shrink)
Humans have only finite discriminatory capacities. This simple fact seems to be incompatible with the existence of appearances. As many authors have noted, the hypothesis that appearances exist seems to be refuted by reductio: Let A, B, C be three uniformly coloured surfaces presented to a subject in optimal viewing conditions, such that A, B, and C resemble one another perfectly except with respect to their colours. Their colours differ slightly in the following way: the difference between A and B (...) and the difference between B and C are below the discrimination threshold, but the difference between A and C is above this threshold. According to an intuitive construal of what an appearance is, given that A and B appear (to the subject) identical in colour, A and B have the same (colour1) appearance P1; likewise, B and C have the same appearance P2. B's appearance is both P1 and P2. This seems to imply that P1=P2. But then, A and C also have the same appearance, which contradicts the hypothesis that A and C are discriminable. If A and C are discriminable with respect to their colour, they do not have the same appearance with respect to colour. The paradox arising from such a series of judgments of sameness or difference between pairs of coloured surfaces seems to belong to the class of sorites paradoxes. I will show that there is a way to construe colours and their appearances in a way that does not fall prey to the reduction just sketched. (shrink)