In an attempt to improve upon Alexander Pruss’s work (The principle of sufficient reason: A reassessment, pp. 240–248, 2006), I (Weaver, Synthese 184(3):299–317, 2012) have argued that if all purely contingent events could be caused and something like a Lewisian analysis of causation is true (per, Lewis’s, Causation as influence, reprinted in: Collins, Hall and paul. Causation and counterfactuals, 2004), then all purely contingent events have causes. I dubbed the derivation of the universality of causation (...) the “Lewisian argument”. The Lewisian argument assumed not a few controversial metaphysical theses, particularly essentialism, an incommunicable-property view of essences (per Plantinga’s, Actualism and possible worlds, reprinted in: Davidson (ed.) Essays in the metaphysics of modality, 2003), and the idea that counterfactual dependence is necessary for causation. There are, of course, substantial objections to such theses. While I think a fight against objections to the Lewisian argument can be won, I develop, in what follows, a much more intuitive argument for the universality of causation which takes as its inspiration a result from Frederic B. Fitch’s work (J Symb Logic 28(2):135–142, 1963) [with credit to who we now know was Alonzo church’s, Referee Reports on Fitch’s Definition of value, in: (Salerno (ed.), New essays on the knowability paradox, 2009)] that if all truths are such that they are knowable, then (counter-intuitively) all truths are known. The resulting Church–Fitch proof for the universality of causation is preferable to the Lewisian argument since it rests upon far weaker formal and metaphysical assumptions than those of the Lewisian argument. (shrink)
Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. -/- In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often (...) produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. -/- We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation. (shrink)
A combination of process and counterfactual theories of causation is proposed with the aim of preserving the strengths of each of the approaches while avoiding their shortcomings. The basis for the combination, or hybrid, view is the need, common to both accounts, of imposing a stability requirement on the causal relation.
An important argument in favour of recognising the cultural relativism and against universality of dignity and human rights, is the claim that the concept of dignity is a genuinely modern one. An analysis of a passage from the Demiurge’s speech in Timaeus reveals that Plato devoted time to reflecting on the question of what determines the qualitative difference between certain beings (gods and human being) and the world of things, and what forms the basis for the special treatment of (...) these beings – issues that using the language of today can be described reasonably as dignity. The attributes of this form of dignity seem to overlap with the nature of dignity as we know it today. Moreover, Plato proposes a response both to the question of what dignity is like, as well as the question of what dignity is. It is existential perfection, rooted in a perfect manner of existence, based on a specific internal unity of being. Dignity is therefore primordial in regard to particular features and independent of their acquisition or loss. Plato’s approach allows him to postulate that people be treated as ends in themselves; an approach therefore that prohibits the treatment of people as objects. Both the state and law are ultimately subordinated to the good of the individual, rather than the individual to the good of the state. -/- Istotny argument na rzecz relatywizmu kulturowego i przeciwko powszechności godności i wynikających z niej praw człowieka, oparty jest na poglądzie, że godność uznana została dopiero w czasach nowożytnych. Analiza fragmentu mowy Demiurga z Platońskiego dialogu Timajos ujawnia, że Platon rozwinął refleksję nad czymś, co stanowi o jakościowej różnicy między pewnymi istotami (bogami i ludźmi) a światem rzeczy, i co jest podstawą szczególnego traktowania tych istot, a co językiem współczesnym zasadnie można określić jako godność. Zbieżna jest charakterystyka tej godności z charakterystyką przyjmowaną współcześnie. Co więcej, Platon daje propozycję odpowiedzi nie tylko na pytanie, jaka jest godność, ale także na pytanie, czym jest godność. Jest ona doskonałością egzystencjalną, ugruntowanym w szczególnie doskonałym sposobie istnienia, opartym na szczególnej wewnętrznej jedności bytu. Jako doskonałość istnienia ogarnia ona cały byt, wszystkie jego cechy; jest nieoddzielalna od bytu (jest przyrodzona i niezbywalna). Jako pierwotna wobec partykularnych cech, jest niezależna od ich nabywania lub utraty. Platońskie ujęcie pozwala w oparciu o ujęcie godności formułować postulaty zbieżne z formułowanymi dziś dyrektywami nakazującymi traktować osoby jako cele same w sobie i zakazującymi traktowania osób w sposób czysto instrumentalny, przedmiotowy. Okazuje się, że – zdaniem Platona – jednostki nie wolno traktować czysto instrumentalnie dla dobra państwa; zarówno państwo, jak i prawo są podporządkowane dobru jednostki. (shrink)
The Physical Intentionality Thesis claims that dispositions share the marks of psychological intentionality; therefore, intentionality is not exclusively a mental phenomenon. Beyond the standard five marks, Alexander Bird introduces two additional marks of intentionality that he argues dispositions do not satisfy: first, thoughts are extrinsic; second, the direction of causation is that objects cause thoughts, not vice versa. In response, this paper identifies two relevant conceptions of extrinsicness, arguing that dispositions show deep parallels to thoughts on both conceptions. Then, (...) it shows that Bird’s discussion of direction of causation overlooks complexities of dispositionality and intentionality that problematize apparent differences between thoughts and dispositions. The paper ends with a discussion of why we find these parallels between thoughts and dispositions. (shrink)
My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most (...) theories of agent causation are. Rather, I argue that the notion of agent causation introduced here best explains how it is that you are making your body move during an action, thereby providing a satisfactory solution to the problem of action. (shrink)
D. Hume's analysis of causation is critically analyzed in light of certain assumptions that he made regarding the classical Aristotelian causes. Using his widely cited analysis of billiard balls colliding and moving about as an example of how efficient causation is supposedly learned, the argument is made that Hume has overlooked the functioning of final causation in this learning. Thus, in order to understand how a learner might reason back from the presumed "effect" to the "cause" in (...) efficient causation, we must appreciate that the learner is actually employing a final-cause process of predication-that is, of reasoning "for the sake of" precedents extending sequaciously to targets. As final causation underwrites telic description, it is concluded that there is an unrecognized teleology in Hume's analysis of causation. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
I argue that Lewis's counterfactual theory of causation, given his treatment of counterfactuals in terms of world-comparative similarity faces insuperable problems in the form of the problem of effects and the problem of epiphenomena.
The thesis is defended that the theories of causation, time and space, and levels of reality are mutually interrelated in such a way that the difficulties internal to theories of causation and to theories of space and time can be understood better, and perhaps dealt with, in the categorial context furnished by the theory of the levels of reality. The structural condition for this development to be possible is that the first two theories be opportunely generalized.
Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998). For others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level where carcinogenesis consists of disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein and Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account (...) of causation (Woodward 2003), I propose a formal definition of downward causation and discuss further requirements (in light of Baumgartner 2009). I then show that such an account cannot be mobilized in support of non-reductive physicalism (contrary to Raatikainen 2010). However, I also argue that such downward causation claims might point at particularly interesting dynamic properties of causal relationships that might prove salient in characterizing causal relationships (following Woodward 2010). (shrink)
If, as I argue, the law of karma is a special application of the causal law to moral causation, then one has to account for the differences between the two laws. One possibility is to distinguish between "phalas" (immediate effects actions produce in the world) and "samskaras" (invisible dispositions or tendencies to act or think), and to suggest that karma produces the latter but not the former. This subjectivist account, however, raises questions concerning the relation between a person's "samskaras" (...) and the environmental conditions that cause him pleasure and pain. (shrink)
One part of the true theory of actual causation is a set of conditions responsible for eliminating all of the non-causes of an effect that can be discerned at the level of counterfactual structure. I defend a proposal for this part of the theory.
That there is no substance causation is often treated as the default position. My aim in this paper is primarily one of burden shifting: opponents of substance causation must do more to defend their position. After outlining the thesis I wish to defend, I present a simple argument for substance causation, arguing that opponents of substance causation owe us an explanation of why this argument is unsound. I end by answering objections to the view that substances (...) can be causes. (shrink)
Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
I defend what may loosely be called an eliminativist account of causation by showing how several of the main features of causation, namely asymmetry, transitivity, and necessitation, arise from the combination of fundamental dynamical laws and a special constraint on the macroscopic structure of matter in the past. At the microscopic level, the causal features of necessitation and transitivity are grounded, but not the asymmetry. At the coarse-grained level of the macroscopic physics, the causal asymmetry is grounded, but (...) not the necessitation or transitivity. Thus, at no single level of description does the physics justify the conditions that are taken to be constitutive of causation. Nevertheless, if we mix our reasoning about the microscopic and macroscopic descriptions, the structure provided by the dynamics and special initial conditions can justify the folk concept of causation to a significant extent. I explain why our causal concept works so well even though at bottom it is comprised of a patchwork of principles that don't mesh well. (shrink)
Empirical evidence, it has often been argued, undermines our commonsense assumptions concerning the efficacy of conscious intentions. One of the most influential advocates of this challenge has been Daniel Wegner, who has presented an impressive amount of evidence in support of a model of "apparent mental causation". According to Wegner, this model provides the best explanation of numerous curious and pathological cases of behavior. Further, it seems that Benjamin Libet's classic experiment on the initiation of action and the empirical (...) evidence concerning the confabulation of reason explanations provide further support for this view. In response, I will propose an alternative model of "real mental causation" that can accommodate the empirical evidence just as well as Wegner's. Further, we will see that there is plenty of evidence in support of the assumption that intentions are causally efficacious. This will provide us with ample reason to endorse the model of real mental causation. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell famously argued that causation is not part of the fundamental physical description of the world, describing the notion of cause as “a relic of a bygone age”. This paper assesses one of Russell’s arguments for this conclusion: the ‘Directionality Argument’, which holds that the time symmetry of fundamental physics is inconsistent with the time asymmetry of causation. We claim that the coherence and success of the Directionality Argument crucially depends on the proper interpretation of the ‘ (...) time symmetry’ of fundamental physics as it appears in the argument, and offer two alternative interpretations. We argue that: if ‘ time symmetry’ is understood as the time -reversal invariance of physical theories, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument should be rejected; and if ‘ time symmetry’ is understood as the temporally bidirectional nomic dependence relations of physical laws, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument is far more plausible. We defend the second reading as continuous with Russell’s writings, and consider the consequences of the bidirectionality of nomic dependence relations in physics for the metaphysics of causation. (shrink)
According to the new mechanistic approach, an acting entity is at a lower mechanistic level than another acting entity if and only if the former is a component in the mechanism for the latter. Craver and Bechtel (2007) argue that a consequence of this view is that there cannot be causal interactions between acting entities at different mechanistic levels. Their main reason seems to be what I will call the Metaphysical Argument: things at different levels of a mechanism are related (...) as part and whole; wholes and their parts cannot be related as cause and effect; hence, interlevel causation in mechanisms is impossible. I will analyze this argument in more detail and show under which conditions it is valid. This analysis will reveal that interlevel causation in mechanisms is indeed possible, if we take seriously the idea that the relata of the mechanistic level relation are acting entities and accept a slightly modified notion of a mechanistic level that is highly plausible in the light of the first clarification. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an analysis of causation based upon a theory of mechanisms-complex systems whose internal parts interact to produce a system's external behavior. I argue that all but the fundamental laws of physics can be explained by reference to mechanisms. Mechanisms provide an epistemologically unproblematic way to explain the necessity which is often taken to distinguish laws from other generalizations. This account of necessity leads to a theory of causation according to which events are causally (...) related when there is a mechanism that connects them. I present reasons why the lack of an account of fundamental physical causation does not undermine the mechanical account. (shrink)
In this paper we show that the application of Occam’s razor to the theory of causal Bayes nets gives us a neat definition of direct causation. In particular we show that Occam’s razor implies Woodward’s (2003) definition of direct causation, provided suitable intervention variables exist and the causal Markov condition (CMC) is satisfied. We also show how Occam’s razor can account for direct causal relationships Woodward style when only stochastic intervention variables are available.
Concrete Causation centers about theories of causation, their interpretation, and their embedding in metaphysical-ontological questions, as well as the application of such theories in the context of science and decision theory. The dissertation is divided into four chapters, that firstly undertake the historical-systematic localization of central problems (chapter 1) to then give a rendition of the concepts and the formalisms underlying David Lewis' and Judea Pearl's theories (chapter 2). After philosophically motivated conceptual deliberations Pearl's mathematical-technical framework is drawn (...) on for an epistemic interpretation and for emphasizing the knowledge-organizing aspect of causality in an extension of the interventionist Bayes net account of causation (chapter 3). Integrating causal and non-causal knowledge in unified structures ultimately leads to an approach towards solving problems of (causal) decision theory and at the same time facilitates the representation of logical-mathematical, synonymical, as well as reductive relationships in efficiently structured, operational nets of belief propagation (chapter 4). (shrink)
One of the most striking features of causation is that causes typically precede their effects – the causal arrow is strongly aligned with the temporal arrow. Why should this be so? We offer an opinionated guide to this problem, and to the solutions currently on offer. We conclude that the most promising strategy is to begin with the de facto asymmetry of human deliberation, characterised in epistemic terms, and to build out from there. More than any rival, this subjectivist (...) approach promises to demystify the asymmetry, temporal orientation, and deliberative relevance of causal judgements. (shrink)
Although the success of Habermas’s theory of communicative action depends on his dialogical model of understanding in which a theorist is supposed to participate in the debate with the actors as a ‘virtual participant’ and seek context-transcendent truth through the exchange of speech acts, current literature on the theory of communicative action rarely touches on the difficulties it entails. In the first part of this paper, I will examine Habermas’s argument that understanding other cultural practices requires the interpreter to virtually (...) participate in the “dialogue” with the actors as to the rationality of their cultural practice and discuss why, according to Habermas,such dialogue leads to the “context-transcendent truth”. In the second part, by using a concrete historical example, I will reconstruct a “virtual dialogue” between Habermas and Michael Polanyi as to the rationality of scientific practice and indicate why Habermas’s dialogical model of understanding based on the methodology of virtual participation cannot achieve what it professes to do. (shrink)
It is commonplace to distinguish between propositional justification (having good reasons for believing p) and doxastic justification (believing p on the basis of those good reasons).One necessary requirement for bridging the gap between S’s merely having propositional justification that p and S’s having doxastic justification that p is that S base her belief that p on her reasons (propositional justification).A plausible suggestion for what it takes for S’s belief to be based on her reasons is that her reasons must contribute (...) causally to S’s having that belief. Though this suggestion is plausible, causal accounts of the basing relation that have been proposed have not fared well. In particular, cases involving causal deviancy and cases involving over-determination have posed serious problems for causal accounts of the basing relation. Although previous causal accounts of the basing relation seem to fall before these problems, it is possible to construct an acceptable causal account of the basing relation. That is, it is possible to construct a causal account of the basing relation that not only fits our intuitions about doxastic justification in general, but also is not susceptible to the problems posed by causal deviancy and causal over-determination. The interventionist account of causation provides the tools for constructing such an account. My aim is to make use of the insights of the interventionist account of causation to develop and defend an adequate causal account of the basing relation. (shrink)
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)
Speculative logical theory, as provided in Hegel’s Science of Logic, consists of three main parts: the logic of being, the logic of essence, and the logic of the concept. The peculiar character of each logic’s starting-point determines the most general character of each logic’s development. The essay aims at making explicit the character of the starting-point of the third logic, the logic of the concept. This starting-point is exemplified by the category of universality. It is shown (a) that the (...) fundamental determination of this category is the harmonious unity of self-identity and full determinacy and (b) that this unity has necessarily the logical structure of “double shining.” The latter is described in detail and justification is provided as to why it is preferred from “single shining.” I conclude the paper by defending the structure of “double shining” against certain objections raised against it by F. Shick and C. Iber. (shrink)
The paper takes issue with a widely accepted view of mental causation. This is the view that mental causation is either reducible to physical causation or ultimately untenable, because incompatible with the causal completeness of physics. The paper examines, first, why recent attempts to save the phenomena of mental causation by way of the notion of supervenient causation fail. The result of this examination is the claim that any attempted specification of the most basic causal (...) factors which supposedly underlie a causal transaction cannot account for the counterfactually necessary connections with the effect in question. By contrast, the specification of these factors at a higher-level would allow establishing such connections. The paper closes with a discussion of how this view of autonomous ligher-level causation grounded on counterfactual relations can be made compatible with the physicalistic commitment to a complete specification of the particular causes of any physical effect exclusively in physical terms. (shrink)
Idea powszechności legła u samych podstaw współczesnej ochrony praw człowieka i nadal jest często podkreślana w dyskursie typu praktycznego, na różnych płaszczyznach: politycznej, moralnej czy religijnej. Jednakże trudno o koncepcję praw człowieka pozwalającą pogodzić powszechność z właściwościami prawa, z postulatami respektu dla pluralizmu ugruntowanego tak w odmienności kulturowej, jak i wolności poszczególnych jednostek ludzkich. Wziąwszy pod uwagę, że powszechność jest fundamentalnym przy¬miotem praw człowieka, kłopoty z powszechnością są kłopotami ze zbudowaniem filozoficznej koncepcji praw człowieka w ogóle. Odrzucenie powszechności jest równoznaczne (...) z odrzuceniem podstaw współczesnej koncepcji tych praw. Opracowanie zmierza do identyfikacji rozmaitych aspektów powszechności praw człowieka i do uporządkowania argumentów przytaczanych w dyskusji nad powszechnością. (shrink)
This article examines Nietzsche’s analysis of the phenomenology of agent causation. Sense of agent causation, our sense of self-efficacy, is tenacious because it originates, according to Nietzsche’s hypothesis, in the embodied and situated experience of effort in overcoming resistances. It arises at the level of the organism and is sustained by higher-order cognitive functions. Based on this hypothesis, Nietzsche regards the sense of self as emerging from a homeostatic system of drives and affects that unify such as to (...) maintain self-efficacy levels. He relies on the same hypothesis to explain the emergence of an ascetic moral system and its specific, interpretive-affective ‘mechanism of willing’. The article aligns Nietzsche’s account of agent causation with Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy studies and Antonio Damasio’s recent account of self-systems as homeostatic systems. (shrink)
In this thesis, I give a metascientific account of causality in medicine. I begin with two historical cases of causal discovery. These are the discovery of the causation of Burkitt’s lymphoma by the Epstein-Barr virus, and of the various viral causes suggested for cervical cancer. These historical cases then support a philosophical discussion of causality in medicine. This begins with an introduction to the Russo- Williamson thesis (RWT), and discussion of a range of counter-arguments against it. Despite these, I (...) argue that the RWT is historically workable, given a small number of modifications. I then expand Russo and Williamson’s account. I first develop their suggestion that causal relationships in medicine require some kind of evidence of mechanism. I begin with a number of accounts of mechanisms and produce a range of consensus features of them. I then develop this consensus position by reference to the two historical case studies with an eye to their operational competence. In particular, I suggest that it is mechanistic models and their representations which we are concerned with in medicine, rather than the mechanism as it exists in the world. -/- I then employ these mechanistic models to give an account of the sorts of evidence used in formulating and evaluating causal claims. Again, I use the two human viral oncogenesis cases to give this account. I characterise and distinguish evidence of mechanism from evidence of difference-making, and relate this to mechanistic models. I then suggest the relationship between types of evidence presents us with a means of tackling the reference-class problem. This sets the scene for the final chapter. Here, I suggest the manner in which these two different classes of evidence become integrated is also reflected in the way that developing research programmes change as their associated causal claims develop. (shrink)
Hitchcock (2001a) argues that the distinction between singular and general causation conflates the two distinctions ‘actual causation vs. causal tendencies’ and ‘wide vs. narrow causation’. Based on a recent regularity account of causation I will show that Hitchcock’s introduction of the two distinctions is an unnecessary multiplication of causal concepts.
The Facts of Causation grapples with one of philosophy's most enduring issues. Causation is central to all of our lives. What we see and hear causes us to believe certain facts about the world. We need that information to know how to act and how to cause the effects we desire. D. H. Mellor, a leading scholar in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, offers a comprehensive theory of causation. Many questions about causation remain unsettled. In (...) science, the indeterminism of modern physics and genetics have made such questions considerably harder for philosophers to answer. While progress has been made, a complete account of the nature and cosequences of causation is long overdue. This major study provides that account. (shrink)
In a series of recent papers, Cynthia MacDonald and Graham MacDonald offer a resolution to the twin problems of mental causation and mental causal relevance. They argue that the problem of mental causation is soluble via token monism – mental events are causally efficacious physical events. At the same time, the problem of mental causal relevance is solved by combining this causally efficacious mental property instance with the systematic co-variation between distinct mental properties of the cause and the (...) action-theoretic properties of the effect in question. In this paper we argue that the solution offered by Mac- Donald and MacDonald faces significant difficulties in resolving both of the twin problems of mental causation and mental causal relevance. (shrink)
Fred Dretske’s account of mental causation, developed in Explaining Behavior and defended in numerous articles, is generally regarded as one of the most interesting and most ambitious approaches in the field. According to Dretske, meaning facts, construed historically as facts about the indicator functions of internal states, are the structuring causes of behavior. In this article, we argue that Dretske’s view is untenable: On closer examination, the real structuring causes of behavior turn out to be markedly different from Dretske’s (...) meaning facts. Our argument proceeds in three steps. First, we set forth the problem of meaning individuation: We argue that the proposal that meaning facts are structuring causes of behavior commits Dretske to a very fine-grained individuation of meanings that is deeply counterintuitive. In a second step, we show that even these finely individuated meaning facts cannot do the job that they are supposed to do, since information facts—which are constitutive of, but distinct from Dretske’s meaning facts—are better candidates for the role of structuring causes. Finally, we argue that it is not even information facts, but facts of co-instantiation which are the real structuring causes of behavior. In concluding, we briefly consider the options that are left for Dretske if our arguments succeed. (shrink)
Ehring shows the inadequacy of received theories of causation, and, introducing conceptual devices of his own, provides a wholly new account of causation as the persistence over time of individual properties, or "tropes.".
A typical thesis of contemporary materialism holds that mental properties and events supervene on, without being reducible to, physical properties and events. Many philosophers have grown skeptical about the causal efficacy of irreducibly supervenient properties, however, and one of the main reasons is an assumption about causation which Jaegwon Kim calls the causal exclusion principle. I argue here that this principle runs afoul of cases of genuine causal overdetermination.Many would argue that causal overdetermination is impossible anyway, but a careful (...) analysis of these arguments shows them to be misguided. Finally, I examine the reasons given in support of the causal exclusion principle, and I conclude that it is plausible if, and probably only if, a certain view of the nature of causation turns out to be correct. Since that view of causation is unacceptable to nonreductivists on other grounds, however, it turns out that exclusion-based arguments essentially beg the question. (shrink)
In The Secret Connexion1 Galen Strawson argues against the traditional interpretation of Hume, according to which Hume’s theory of meaning leads him to a regularity theory of causation. In actual fact, says Strawson, ‘Hume believes firmly in some sort of natural necessity’ (p. 277). What Hume denied was that we are aware of causal connections outrunning regular succession, and that we have a ‘positively or descriptively contentful conception’ of such powers (p. 283); he did not deny that there are (...) such powers, or that they are what we are talking about when we talk about causation. Strawson has four central lines of argument. His ‘most direct evidence’ (p. 2) against a regularity interpretation consists of (1) passages where Hume refers to hidden powers underlying the regularities of which we are aware. Strawson’s broader motivations for rejecting the traditional interpretation are (2) that the regularity theory is in itself quite absurd, and (3) that it is incompatible with Hume’s ‘non-committal scepticism’. And the method which he uses to defend his interpretation against pressure from the theory of ideas is (4) to develop some comments of Hume’s on ‘relative’ ideas into something like a further theory of content to supplement the theory of ideas. Strawson develops almost the strongest case I can imagine for his claims. I shall try to explain why he leaves me unconvinced. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an 'integrating account' of singular causation, where the term 'integrating' refers to the following program for analysing causation. There are two intuitions about causation, both of which face serious counterexamples when used as the basis for an analysis of causation. The 'process' intuition, which says that causes and effects are linked by concrete processes, runs into trouble with cases of 'misconnections', where an event which serves to prevent another fails to do (...) so on a particular occasion and yet the two events are linked by causal processes. The chance raising intuition, according to which causes raise the chance of their effects, easily accounts for misconnections but faces the problem of chance lowering causes, a problem easily accounted for by the process approach. The integrating program attempts to provide an analysis of singular causation by synthesising the two insights, so as to solve both problems. In this paper I show that extant versions of the integrating program due to Eells, Lewis, and Menzies fail to account for the chance-lowering counterexample. I offer a new diagnosis of the chance lowering case, and use that as a basis for an integrating account of causation which does solve both cases. In doing so, I accept various assumptions of the integrating program, in particular that there are no other problems with these two approaches. As an example of the process account, I focus on the recent CQ theory of Wesley Salmon (1997). (shrink)
Lack of clarity about underlying philosophical commitments leads to lack of clarity at other levels of analysis. Here I show that the literature on so-called “causal mechanisms” is rife with conceptual problems, stemming from insufficient rigor with respect to the metaphysics of causation.
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 349 - 369 A theory of causation suitable for historiography must accommodate the many types of causal claims historians make. In this paper, I examine the advantages of applying D. K. Lewis’s counterfactual theory of causation to the philosophy of historiography. I contend that Lewis’s possible world semantics offers a superior framework for making sense of historical causation, and that it lays the foundation for historians to look at history as (...) causal series of events, remaining agnostic as to whether there may be historical regularities or laws. Lewis’s theory can also accommodate important notions often used by historians, such as absences as causes, historical necessity and contingency, and the role they play in the formulation of historical counterfactuals. (shrink)
Given certain well-known observations by Mach and Russell, the question arises what place there is for causation in the physical world. My aim in this chapter is to understand under what conditions we can use causal terminology and how it fi ts in with what physics has to say. I will argue for a disposition-based process-theory of causation. After addressing Mach’s and Russell’s concerns I will start by outlining the kind of problem the disposition based process-theory of (...) class='Hi'>causation is meant to solve. In a second step I will discuss the nature of those dispositions that will be relevant for our question. In section 3 I will discuss existing dispositional accounts of causation before I proceed to present my own account (sections 4 to 6) and contrast it with traditional process-theories (section 7). (shrink)
This article presents Roman Ingarden’s theory of causation, as developed in volume III of The Controversy about the Existence of the World, and defends analternative which uses some important insights of Ingarden. It rejects Ingarden’s claim that a cause is simultaneous with its effect and that a cause necessitates its effect. It uses Ingarden’s notion of ‘inclinations’ and accepts Ingarden’s claim that an event cannot necessitate a later event.
Lack of clarity about underlying philosophical commitments leads to lack of clarity at other levels of analysis. Here I show that the literature on so-called “causal mechanisms” is rife with conceptual problems, stemming from insufficient rigor with respect to the metaphysics of causation.
Jewish ethics like Judaism itself has often been charged with being "particularistic," and in modernity it has been unfavorably compared with the universality of secular ethics. This charge has become acute philosophically when the comparison is made with the ethics of Kant. However, at this level, much of the ethical rejection of Jewish particularism, especially its being beholden to a God who is above the universe to whom this God prescribes moral norms and judges according to them, is also (...) a rejection of Christian (or any other monotheistic) ethics, no matter how otherwise universal. Yet this essay argues that Jewish ethics that prescribes norms for all humans, and that is knowable by all humans, actually constitutes a wider moral universe than does Kantian ethics, because it can include non-rational human objects and even non-human objects altogether. This essay also argues that a totally egalitarian moral universe, encompassing all human relations, becomes an infinite, totalizing universe, which can easily become the ideological justification (ratio essendi) of a totalitarian regime. (shrink)
The explanatory role of natural selection is one of the long-term debates in evolutionary biology. Nevertheless, the consensus has been slippery because conceptual confusions and the absence of a unified, formal causal model that integrates different explanatory scopes of natural selection. In this study we attempt to examine two questions: (i) What can the theory of natural selection explain? and (ii) Is there a causal or explanatory model that integrates all natural selection explananda? For the first question, we argue that (...) five explananda have been assigned to the theory of natural selection and that four of them may be actually considered explananda of natural selection. For the second question, we claim that a probabilistic conception of causality and the statistical relevance concept of explanation are both good models for understanding the explanatory role of natural selection. We review the biological and philosophical disputes about the explanatory role of natural selection and formalize some explananda in probabilistic terms using classical results from population genetics. Most of these explananda have been discussed in philosophical terms but some of them have been mixed up and confused. We analyze and set the limits of these problems. (shrink)
Discussions of John Locke’s theory of causation tend, understandably, to focus on the related notion of power and in particular the dialectic with David Hume. But Locke faces a very different threat, one that is internal to his view. For he argues both that causation is a relation and that relations are not real. The obvious conclusion is intolerable. And yet the premises, I argue, are unassailable. Building on an interpretation of Locke’s treatment of relations I have developed (...) elsewhere, I show how Locke can at once speak meaningfully of causation and deny its mind-independent existence. (shrink)
A definition of causation as probability-raising is threatened by two kinds of counterexample: first, when a cause lowers the probability of its effect; and second, when the probability of an effect is raised by a non-cause. In this paper, I present an account that deals successfully with problem cases of both these kinds. In doing so, I also explore some novel implications of incorporating into the metaphysical investigation considerations of causal psychology.
Many contemporary philosophers of physics (and philosophers of science more generally) follow Bertrand Russell in arguing that there is no room for causal notions in physics. Causation, as James Woodward has put it, has a ‘human face’, which makes causal notions sit ill with fundamental theories of physics. In this paper I examine a range of anti-causal arguments and show that the human face of causation is the face of scientific representations much more generally. Physics, like other sciences, (...) is deeply permeated with causal reasoning. (shrink)