Dissertation, Macquarie University and University of Glasgow (2015)

Authors
Neil McDonnell
University of Glasgow
Abstract
Whether there exist causal relations between guns firing and people dying, between pedals pressed and cars accelerating, or between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, is typically taken to be a mind-independent, objective, matter of fact. However, recent contributions to the literature on causation, in particular theories of contrastive causation and causal modelling, have undermined this central causal platitude by relativising causal facts to models or to interests. This thesis flies against the prevailing wind by arguing that we must pay greater attention to which elements of our causal talk vary with context and which elements track genuine features of the world around us. I will argue that once these elements are teased apart we will be in a position to better understand some of the most persistent problems in the philosophy of causation: pre-emption cases, absence causation, failures of transitivity and overdetermination. The result is a naturalist account of causation, concordant with the contextual variability we find in our ordinary causal talk, and parsimonious with respect to the theoretical entities posited
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References found in this work BETA

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Events and Their Counterparts.Neil McDonnell - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1291-1308.

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