This book argues that the Enlightenment was a golden age for the philosophy of body, and for efforts to integrate coherently a philosophical concept of body with a mathematized theory of mechanics. Thereby, it articulates a new framing for the history of 18th-century philosophy and science. It explains why, more than a century after Newton, physics broke away from philosophy to become an autonomous domain. And, it casts fresh light on the structure and foundations of classical mechanics. Among the figures (...) studied are Malebranche, Leibniz, Du Châtelet, Boscovich, and Kant, alongside d’Alembert, Euler, Lagrange, Laplace and Cauchy. (shrink)
Causation is one of the most controversial topics in philosophy. There is a wide range of philosophical accounts of causation, for example, the regularity account, the probabilistic account, the counterfactual account, the interventionist account, which can be all classified as ‘difference-making’ accounts; and the mechanistic account. Many argue that only one of these accounts is correct as there is only one type of causal relation (causal monism), while others maintain that there are multiple types of causation (causal pluralism). In addition, (...) there are eliminativists argue that science has no need of causation at all, while primitivists maintain that causation is unanalysable. Recently, the difference-making and mechanistic approaches have dominated recent philosophical discussion of causation. Other approaches and positions have been insufficiently discussed and assessed, especially in the context of philosophy of science. This volume explores and examines alternative approaches to causation. It revisits causal primitivism and causal eliminativism in the context of recent literature. It further explores the pluralistic approach, the fictionalist approach, the inferentialist approach, and the informational approach. It also examines the application of the dispositional approach, the epistemic approach, and the powerful particulars approach to the natural and social sciences. Overall, the volume is complementary to the recent discussion on the difference-making and mechanistic approaches and sheds new light on the metaphysical, epistemological, conceptual and methodological issues on causation. As such, it provides foundations for further research and teaching of this hotly debated topic. (shrink)
While loneliness has been linked to various mental and physical health problems, the sense in which loneliness is a cause of these conditions has so far attracted little philosophical attention. This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing research on health effects of loneliness and therapeutic interventions through current approaches to causality. To deal with the problem of causality between psychological, social, and biological variables, the paper endorses a biopsychosocial model of health and disease. I will investigate how three (...) main approaches to causality used in psychiatry and public health apply to loneliness: interventionism, mechanisms, and dispositional theories. Interventionism can specify whether loneliness causes specific effects, or whether a treatment works, incorporating results from randomized controlled trials. Mechanisms help explain how loneliness brings about negative health effects, spelling out psychological processes involved in lonely social cognition. Dispositional approaches help stress particular features of loneliness connected to negative social interactions, such as defensiveness. I will conclude by showing that previous research alongside emerging approaches to health effects of loneliness lend themselves to analysis in terms of the causal models under discussion. (shrink)
The subject of this essay is propria and their relation to essence. Propria, roughly characterized, are those real properties of a thing which are natural but nonessential to it, and which are said to “flow from” the thing’s essence, where this “flows from” relation is understood to designate a kind of explanatory relation. For example, it is said that Socrates’s risibility flows from his essential humanity; and it is said that salt’s solubility in water flows from the essential natures of (...) both salt and water. The question I raise and attempt to answer in this essay is: In what sense do propria “flow from” essences? What kind of explanatory relation is this exactly? Some suggest that it is a relation of logical consequence ; others, of grounding ; and still others, of formal causation. In this essay, I reintroduce and defend a view suggested by the late scholastic Spanish philosopher and theologian Francisco Suárez, who in 1597 wrote that effluence is best understood as a very special kind of efficient causation, which we can call the relation of emanation. The thesis of this essay, then, is that propria emanate from essences. Along the way, this paper offers a new taxonomy of types of propria; it explains the significance of propria for the metaphysics and epistemology of essences; it discusses at length varieties of efficient causation ; and then it offers an extensive abductive argument in favor of Suárez’s account, whereby the former accounts of effluence are critiqued, each in turn, and Suárez’s view is motivated and ultimately shown to be superior to its competitors. (shrink)
For decades, much literature on causality has focused on causal processes and causal reasoning in the natural sciences. According to a relatively new trend however, such research on causality remains insufficient because of its refusal to accept a certain degree of pluralism within the concept, a pluralism that is evident in how we use ideas of cause and effect in everyday life. I will build on work in this latter trend, following philosophers like G. E. M. Anscombe and N. Cartwright. (...) I explore the limits of the concept of causality by determining the extent to which our ideas can remain consistent as we stretch this concept along two dimensions, one concerning the maximizing of the effect and the other the maximizing of explanatory depth. Dealing with the cause of the universe, such an investigation touches upon some issues in current empirical cosmology and revisits some classic arguments regarding philosophy of religion and the Platonic notion of participation. The results indicate that the use of current conceptual, logical and analytic tools can deliver new insights that are useful especially for those interested in how causality in the natural sciences links with causality in everyday life. (shrink)
The paper is concentrated on the special changes of the conception of causality from quantum mechanics to quantum information meaning as a background the revolution implemented by the former to classical physics and science after Max Born’s probabilistic reinterpretation of wave function. Those changes can be enumerated so: (1) quantum information describes the general case of the relation of two wave functions, and particularly, the causal amendment of a single one; (2) it keeps the physical description to be causal by (...) the conservation of quantum information and in accordance with Born’s interpretation; (3) it introduces inverse causality, “backwards in time”, observable “forwards in time” as the fundamentally random probability density distribution of all possible measurements of any physical quantity in quantum mechanics; (4) it involves a kind of “bidirectional causality” unifying (4.1) the classical determinism of cause and effect, (4.2) the probabilistic causality of quantum mechanics, and (4.3) the reversibility of any coherent state; (5) it identifies determinism with the function successor in Peano arithmetic, and its proper generalized causality with the information function successor in Hilbert arithmetic. (shrink)
In this paper we examine whether and how powers ontologies can back formal causation. We attempt to answer three questions: i) what is formal causation; ii) whether we need formal causation, and iii) whether formal causation need powers and whether it can be grounded in powers. We take formal causal explanations to be explanations in which something's essence features prominently in the explanans. Three kinds of essential explanations are distinguished: constitutive, consequential, and those singling out something's propria. This last kind (...) of explanation has been somewhat overlooked in the literature, but we argue that it features in much of the most relevant uses of formal explanations in philosophy and science. These are the explanations for why an object has certain propertis that are not, properly speaking, parts of its essence, but that belong to it more intimately than just being part of its consequential essence: they are the properties that ‘flow’ from something's essence. It is argued that a powers metaphysics is uniquely placed to make sense of this last phenomenon. We then distinguish three grades of involvement in which powers might be salient for formal causal explanations: i) powers might be the subject matter of the essence operator, ii) the essence of something might include (or be exhausted) by powers, or iii) powers can explain how propria can flow from something's constitutive existence. (shrink)
Samuel Clarke is best known to historians of science for presenting Isaac Newton’s views to a wider audience, especially in his famous correspondence with G. W. Leibniz. Clarke’s independent writings, however, reveal positions that do not derive from, and do not coincide with, Newton’s. This essay compares Clarke’s and Newton’s ideas on the cause of gravity, with a view to clarifying our understanding of Newton’s views. There is evidence to suggest that Newton believed God was directly responsible for gravity, and (...) this interpretation has been promoted by a number of scholars. By comparing Newton’s views with those of Clarke, however, it can be seen that Newton did not subscribe to the kind of occasionalist approach to gravity that Clarke developed. Clarke insisted that matter was categorically incapable of being endowed with powers or forces and that therefore what looks like gravitational attraction has to be performed directly by God or by angels. By comparing Clarke’s pronouncements with Newton’s, it becomes clear that Newton adopted the more standard line: that the first cause, God, operated in nature through secondary causes and that gravitational attraction was just such a secondary (albeit occult) cause. (shrink)
I argue that the debate between proponents of substance causation and proponents of causation by powers, as to whether substances or their powers are causes, hinges on whether or not powers are self-exemplifying or non-self-exemplifying properties. Substance causation is committed to powers being non-self-exemplifying properties while causation by powers is committed to powers being self-exemplifying properties. I then argue that powers are non-self-exemplifying properties, in support of substance causation.
In the last decade, several researchers have proposed theories of actual causation that make use of structural equations and directed graphs. Many of these researchers are committed to a widely-endorsed folk attribution desideratum, according to which an important constraint on the acceptability of a theory of actual causation is agreement between the deliverances of the theory with respect to specific cases and the reports of untutored individuals about those same cases. In the present article, we consider a small collection of (...) related theories of actual causation, including a purely structural theory and two theories that supplement the structural equations with considerations of defaults, typicality, and normality. We argue that each of these three theories are meant to satisfy the FAD, and then we present empirical evidence that they fail to do so for several variations on a simple scenario from the literature. Drawing on our previous work on the responsibility view of folk causal attribitons, we conclude by offering a solution that allows the latter two theories to satisfy the FAD for these cases. The solution is to give up on concerns with typicality and focus on injunctive norms in supplementing the graphical modeling machinery. (shrink)
We argue that current discussions of criteria for actual causation are ill-posed in several respects. (1) The methodology of current discussions is by induction from intuitions about an infinitesimal fraction of the possible examples and counterexamples; (2) cases with larger numbers of causes generate novel puzzles; (3) “neuron” and causal Bayes net diagrams are, as deployed in discussions of actual causation, almost always ambiguous; (4) actual causation is (intuitively) relative to an initial system state since state changes are relevant, but (...) most current accounts ignore state changes through time; (5) more generally, there is no reason to think that philosophical judgements about these sorts of cases are normative; but (6) there is a dearth of relevant psychological research that bears on whether various philosophical accounts are descriptive. Our skepticism is not directed towards the possibility of a correct account of actual causation; rather, we argue that standard methods will not lead to such an account. A different approach is required. Once upon a time a hungry wanderer came into a village. He filled an iron cauldron with water, built a fire under it, and dropped a stone into the water. “I do like a tasty stone soup” he announced. Soon a villager added a cabbage to the pot, another added some salt and others added potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was a meal for all. (shrink)
In their article 'Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach. Part I: Causes', Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of 'actual cause'. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation.
This volume claims to offer first a correct interpretation of Hume's theory of causation, and second, a philosophical defense of it against many recent criticisms. The first two chapters try to reconcile Hume's two definitions of "cause," and to prove that Hume was not a skeptic about induction. The authors contend that Hume's views on causation can be rationally reconstructed as a unified theory that is, they believe, faithful to his intentions, namely that causation involves regularities or constant conjunctions, and (...) some kind of necessity. (shrink)
Kenneth Clatterbaugh has written a valuable exposition and discussion of a century of upheaval in metaphysics and natural philosophy, tracing the gutting and reworking of Aristotelian causality from its uncomfortable scholastic context into a leaner and meaner instrument of secularized scientific explanation. The book examines key figures directly, evaluates prominent interpretations from the recent literature, and also puts Clatterbaugh’s own useful and definite stamp on the story. This includes the usual philosophical suspects—Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume—and their weighty philosophical interlocutors (...) and followers like Hobbes, Gassendi, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Anthony Legrand. Then, on the more narrowly scientific side, there are Boyle, Rohault, and Newton. (shrink)
Actual causes - e.g. Suzy's being exposed to asbestos - often bring about their effects - e.g. Suzy's suffering mesothelioma - probabilistically. I use probabilistic causal models to tackle one of the thornier difficulties for traditional accounts of probabilistic actual causation: namely probabilistic preemption.
The existing body of scholarship on Kant’s Critique of Judgment is rife with disagreement. At the centre of much of this disagreement is the issue of precisely what Kant understands to be taking place in a harmonization of the cognitive faculties. Is aesthetic reflective judgment to be identified with, or separated from, this harmonious state of the faculties of imagination and understanding? If aesthetic judgment is identified with this state, as is argued herein, then upon what is a judgment of (...) beauty to be based? These questions are addressed by focussing on two closely related aspects of Kant’s theory of reflective judgment; the role Kant assigns to the power of desire (i.e., to the will) and to the causal structure implicated in reflective judgment. In brief, we argue that a judgment of beauty is not, strictly speaking, something that I do, but is better described that something that happens of itself. (shrink)
Huw Price has argued that on an interventionist account of cause the distinction is perspectival, and the claim prompted some interesting responses from interventionists and in particular an exchange with Woodward that raises questions about what it means to say that one or another structure is perspectival. I’ll introduce his reasons for claiming that the distinction between cause and effect on an interventionist account is perspectival. Then I’ll introduce a distinction between different ways in which a class of concepts can (...) be said to depend on facts about their users. Three importantly different forms of dependence will emerge from the discussion: Pragmatic dependence on us: truth conditions for x-beliefs can be given by a function f \ of more fundamental physical structures making no explicit reference to human agents. But there are any other number of functions ) ontologically on a par with x and what explains the distinguished role f plays in our practical and epistemic lives are facts about us. Implicit relativization: truth conditions for x-beliefs are relative to agent or context; the context supplies the value of a hidden parameter that determines the truth of x-beliefs. Indexicals: like implicit relativization except that the surface syntax contains a term whose semantic value is context-dependent. I suggest that Price’s insights are best understood in the first way. This will draw a crucial disanalogy with his central examples of perspectival concepts, but it will refine the thesis in a way that is more faithful to what his arguments show. The refined thesis will also support generalization to other concepts, and clarify the foundations of the quite distinctive research program that Price has been developing for a number of years. (shrink)
In many people, caffeine causes slight muscle tremors, particularly in their hands. In general, the Caffeine → Muscle Tremors causal connection is a noisy one: someone can drink coffee and experience no hand shaking, and there are many other factors that can lead to muscle tremors. Now suppose that Jane drinks several cups of coffee and then notices that her hands are trembling; an obvious question is: did this instance of coffee drinking cause this instance of hand-trembling? Structurally similar questions (...) arise throughout everyday life: Did this pressing of the ‘k’ key cause this change in the pixels on the computer monitor? Did these episodes of smoking cause this lung cancer? Did this studying cause this test score? And so on. These questions all ask about singular causation in a particular situation, in contrast with general causation across multiple cases. They are thus particularly salient in situations in which we care about that specific case, as in many legal contexts, social interactions, physical explanations of anomalous events, and more. (shrink)
The possibility of apparently negative causation has been discussed in a number of recent works on causation, but the discussion has suffered from beingscattered. In this paper, the problem of apparently negative causation and its attemptedsolutions are examined in more detail. I discuss and discard three attempts that have beensuggested in the literature. My conclusion is negative: Negative causation shows that thetraditional cause & effect view is inadequate. A more unified causal perspective is needed.
We argue that current discussions of criteria for actual causation are ill-posed in several respects. (1) The methodology of current discussions is by induction from intuitions about an infinitesimal fraction of the possible examples and counterexamples; (2) cases with larger numbers of causes generate novel puzzles; (3) "neuron" and causal Bayes net diagrams are, as deployed in discussions of actual causation, almost always ambiguous; (4) actual causation is (intuitively) relative to an initial system state since state changes are relevant, but (...) most current accounts ignore state changes through time; (5) more generally, there is no reason to think that philosophical judgements about these sorts of cases are normative; but (6) there is a dearth of relevant psychological research that bears on whether various philosophical accounts are descriptive. Our skepticism is not directed towards the possibility of a correct account of actual causation; rather, we argue that standard methods will not lead to such an account. A different approach is required. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that the omission of an act or that the absence of a cause can be causally efficacious; that they can genuinely produce effects or be the result of a cause. I think this view is mistaken. In this article, I will try to show that since omissions are not actions, they cannot be events. I will then argue that the most plausible account of causation available is one where causation is a relation between events. This would rule (...) out the possibility of both omissions and absences to have any causal efficacy. The mistaken intuition behind the idea that omissions and absences can be causes or effects is mind-related, i.e. they depend on what we usually expect from events around us. Causation, on the other hand, should have nothing to do with what we expect. (shrink)
The experimental interventions that provide evidence of causal relations are notably similar to those that provide evidence of constitutive relevance relations. In the first two sections, I show that this similarity creates a tension: there is an inconsistent triad between Woodward’s popular interventionist theory of causation, Craver’s mutual manipulability account of constitutive relevance in mechanisms, and a variety of arguments for the incoherence of inter-level causation. I argue for an interpretation of the views in which the tension is merely apparent. (...) I propose to explain inter-level relations without inter-level causation by appealing to the notion of fat-handed interventions, and an argument against inter-level causation which dissolves the problem. (shrink)
The Effectiveness of Causes presents a strong view of causation seen as an operation between participants in events, and not as a relation holding between events themselves. In it, Emmet proposes that other philosophical views of cause and effect provide only a world of events, each of which is presented as an unchanging unit. Such a world, she contends, is a “Zeno universe,” since transitions and movement are lost. Emmet offers a more complex interpretation of the various forms of causal (...) dependence. She sees “immanent” causation in the mere persistence of things, where effects are not temporarily separable from causes, and she considers the operation of “efficacious grace.” This is a new approach to the traditional problem and provides stimulating implications for the other metaphysical questions and for the philosophy of science. (shrink)