Relativity and the Causal Efficacy of Abstract Objects

American Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):269-282 (2020)
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Abstract objects are standardly taken to be causally inert, however principled arguments for this claim are rarely given. As a result, a number of recent authors have claimed that abstract objects are causally efficacious. These authors take abstracta to be temporally located in order to enter into causal relations but lack a spatial location. In this paper, I argue that such a position is untenable by showing first that causation requires its relata to have a temporal location, but second, that if an entity is temporally located then it is spatiotemporally located since this follows from the theory of Relativity. Since abstract objects lack a spatiotemporal location, then if something is causally efficacious, it is not abstract.

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Tim Juvshik
Middlebury College

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