Causation is at once familiar and mysterious. Neither common sense nor extensive philosophical debate has led us to anything like agreement on the correct analysis of the concept of causation, or an account of the metaphysical nature of the causal relation. Causation: A User's Guide cuts a clear path through this confusing but vital landscape. L. A. Paul and Ned Hall guide the reader through the most important philosophical treatments of causation, negotiating the terrain by taking a set of examples (...) as landmarks. They clarify the central themes of the debate about causation, and cover questions about causation involving omissions or absences, preemption and other species of redundant causation, and the possibility that causation is not transitive. Along the way, Paul and Hall examine several contemporary proposals for analyzing the nature of causation and assess their merits and overall methodological cogency.The book is designed to be of value both to trained specialists and those coming to the problem of causation for the first time. It provides the reader with a broad and sophisticated view of the metaphysics of the causal relation. (shrink)
The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...) point. Then, adopting the view of Armstrong and others that causation is grounded in a second-order relation between universals, he explores a range of topics for which the resulting analysis of causation has systematic implications. In particular, causal identity conditions for physical universals are proposed, which generate a new argument for Platonism. The nature of space and time is discussed, with arguments against backward causation and for the view that space and time can exist independently of matter or causal process. Many of Professor Fales's conclusions seem to run counter to received opinion among contemporary empiricists. Yet his method is classically empiricist in spirit, and a chief motive for these metaphysical explorations is epistemological. The final chapters investigate the perennial question of whether an empiricist, internalist and foundational epistemology can support scientific realism. (shrink)
The concept of causation is fundamental to ascribing moral and legal responsibility for events. Yet the precise relationship between causation and responsibility remains unclear. This book clarifies that relationship through an analysis of the best accounts of causation in metaphysics, and a critique of the confusion in legal doctrine.
Causation is one of philosophy's most venerable and thoroughly-analyzed concepts. However, the study of how ordinary people make causal judgments is a much more recent addition to the philosophical arsenal. One of the most prominent views of causal explanation, especially in the realm of harmful or potentially harmful behavior, is that unusual or counternormative events are accorded privileged status in ordinary causal explanations. This is a fundamental assumption in psychological theories of counterfactual reasoning, and has been transported to philosophy by (...) Hitchcock and Knobe (2009). A different view--the basis of the culpable control model of blame (CCM)--is that primary causal status is accorded to behaviors that arouse negative evaluative reactions, including behaviors that stem from nefarious motives, negligence or recklessness, a faulty character, or behaviors that lead to harmful or potentially harmful consequences. This paper describes four empirical studies that show consistent support for the CCM. (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.".
Carolina Sartorio argues that only the actual causes of our behaviour matter to our freedom. The key, she claims, lies in a correct understanding of the role played by causation in a view of that kind. Causation has some important features that make it a responsibility-grounding relation, and this contributes to the success of the view. Also, when agents act freely, the actual causes are richer than they appear to be at first sight; in particular, they reflect the agents' sensitivity (...) to reasons, where this includes both the existence of actual reasons and the absence of other reasons. So acting freely requires more causes and quite complex causes, as opposed to fewer causes and simpler causes, and is compatible with those causes being deterministic. The book connects two different debates, the one on causation and the one on the problem of free will, in new and illuminating ways. (shrink)
Causation: A Realist Approach Traditional empiricist accounts of causation and laws of nature have been reductionist in the sense of entailing that given a complete specification of the non-causal properties of and relations among particulars, it is therefore logically determined both what laws there are and what events are causally related. It is argued here, however, that reductionist accounts of causation and of laws of nature are exposed to decisive objections, and thus that the time has come for empiricists to (...) break with that tradition. -/- The basic goal of this book, therefore, is to set out and defend realistic accounts of those concepts. In the case of causal relations, for example, Tooley maintains that causation is basically a matter of theoretical relations between states of affairs that underlie and explain relative frequencies. He also argues that such an approach avoids the objections that tell against reductionist accounts and that it does so without making causal relations epistemologically inaccessible. (shrink)
Fundamental Causation addresses issues in the metaphysics of deterministic singular causation, the metaphysics of events, property instances, facts, preventions, and omissions, as well as the debate between causal reductionists and causal anti-reductionists. The book also pays special attention to causation and causal structure in physics. Weaver argues that causation is a multigrade obtaining relation that is transitive, irreflexive, and asymmetric. When causation is singular, deterministic and such that it relates purely contingent events, the relation is also universal, intrinsic, and well-founded. (...) He shows that proper causal relata are events understood as states of substances at ontological indices. He then proves that causation cannot be reduced to some non-causal base, and that the best account of that relation should be unashamedly primitivist about the dependence relation that underwrites its very nature. The book demonstrates a distinctive realist and anti-reductionist account of causation by detailing precisely how the account outperforms reductionist and competing anti-reductionist accounts in that it handles all of the difficult cases while overcoming all of the general objections to anti-reductionism upon which other anti-reductionist accounts falter. This book offers an original and interesting view of causation and will appeal to scholars and advanced students in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of physics. (shrink)
This book explores the role of causal constraints in science, shifting our attention from causal relations between individual events--the focus of most philosophical treatments of causation--to a broad family of concepts and principles generating constraints on possible change. Yemima Ben-Menahem looks at determinism, locality, stability, symmetry principles, conservation laws, and the principle of least action-causal constraints that serve to distinguish events and processes that our best scientific theories mandate or allow from those they rule out. Ben-Menahem's approach reveals that causation (...) is just as relevant to explaining why certain events fail to occur as it is to explaining events that do occur. She investigates the conceptual differences between, and interrelations of, members of the causal family, thereby clarifying problems at the heart of the philosophy of science. Ben-Menahem argues that the distinction between determinism and stability is pertinent to the philosophy of history and the foundations of statistical mechanics, and that the interplay of determinism and locality is crucial for understanding quantum mechanics. Providing historical perspective, she traces the causal constraints of contemporary science to traditional intuitions about causation, and demonstrates how the teleological appearance of some constraints is explained away in current scientific theories such as quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists that can be reached by ‘stripping out’ (...) time from the actual world, leaving quantum mechanical laws intact. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that causation is an essentially macroscopic phenomenon, and that mental causes are therefore capable of outcompeting their more specific physical realizers as causes of physical effects. But I also argue that any causes must be type-identical with physical properties, on pain of positing inexplicable physical conspiracies. I therefore allow macroscopic mental causation, but only when it is physically reducible.
Causation has traditionally been analyzed either as a relation of nomic dependence or as a relation of counterfactual dependence. I argue for a third program, a physicalistic reduction of the causal relation to one of energy-momentum transference in the technical sense of physics. This physicalistic analysis is argued to have the virtues of easily handling the standard counterexamples to the nomic and counterfactual analyses, offering a plausible epistemology for our knowledge of causes, and elucidating the nature of the relation between (...) causation and physical science. (shrink)
In the section on laws of nature, Psillos considers both the regularity view of laws and laws as relations among universals as well as alternative approaches to laws. In the final section on explanation he examines in detail the issues arising from deductive-nomological explanation and statistical explanation before considering the explanation of laws and the metaphysics of explanation. Accessible to students of all levels the author provides an excellent introduction to one of the most enduring problems of philosophy.
Introduction , Sophie Gibb 1. Mental Causation , John Heil 2. Physical Realization without Preemption , Sydney Shoemaker 3. Mental Causation in the Physical World , Peter Menzies 4. Mental Causation: Ontology and Patterns of Variation , Paul Noordhof 5. Causation is Macroscopic but not Irreducible , David Papineau 6. Substance Causation, Powers, and Human Agency , E. J. Lowe 7. Agent Causation in a Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics , Jonathan D. Jacobs and Timothy O’Connor 8. Mental Causation and Double Prevention , (...) Sophie Gibb 9. The Identity Theory as a Solution to the Exclusion Problem , David Robb 10. Continuant Causation, Fundamentality, and Freedom , Peter Simons 11. There is no Exclusion Problem , Steinvor Tholl Arnadottir and Tim Crane. (shrink)
Introduction -- Rational explanation of belief -- Rational explanation of action -- (Non-human) animals and their reasons -- Rational explanation and rational causation -- Events and states -- Physicalism.
In many spheres, the law takes the legal concept of causation to correspond to the folk concept (the correspondence assumption). Courts, including the US Supreme Court, tend to insist on the "common understanding" and that which is "natural to say" (Burrage v. United States) when it comes to expressions relating to causation, and frequently refuse to clarify the expression to juries. As recent work in psychology and experimental philosophy has uncovered, lay attributions of causation are susceptible to a great number (...) of unexpected factors, some of which seem rather peripheral to causation. One of those is the norm effect (Knobe & Fraser, 2008): Agents who, in acting as they do, break a salient norm, are more likely to be considered as having caused a certain consequence than when they do not violate a norm. According to some (e.g., Alicke, 1992) this constitutes a bias. According to others (e.g., Sytsma, 2020), the folk concept of causation is sensitive to normative factors, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In this paper, we explore the question whether the norm effect should be considered a bias from the legal perspective on the one hand, and from the psychological perspective on the other. To do this, we test whether norms which are nonpertinent to the consequences or outright silly also impact causation judgements. The data from two preregistered experiments (total N=593) clearly show they do. This, we argue, makes the bias interpretation plausible from the psychological perspective, and both plausible and problematic from the legal perspective. It also shows that the law should abstain from unreflectively assuming conceptual correspondence between legal and ordinary language concepts. (shrink)
All univocal analyses of causation face counterexamples. An attractive response to this situation is to become a pluralist about causal relationships. "Causal pluralism" is itself, however, a pluralistic notion. In this article, I argue in favor of pluralism about concepts of cause in the social sciences. The article will show that evidence for, inference from, and the purpose of causal claims are very closely linked. Key Words: causation • pluralism • evidence • methodology.
This book, published in 2000, is a clear account of causation based firmly in contemporary science. Dowe discusses in a systematic way, a positive account of causation: the conserved quantities account of causal processes which he has been developing over the last ten years. The book describes causal processes and interactions in terms of conserved quantities: a causal process is the worldline of an object which possesses a conserved quantity, and a causal interaction involves the exchange of conserved quantities. Further, (...) things that are properly called cause and effect are appropriately connected by a set of causal processes and interactions. The distinction between cause and effect is explained in terms of a version of the fork theory: the direction of a certain kind of ordered pattern of events in the world. This particular version has the virtue that it allows for the possibility of backwards causation, and therefore time travel. (shrink)
Recent work in psychology and experimental philosophy has shown that judgments of actual causation are often influenced by consideration of defaults, typicality, and normality. A number of philosophers and computer scientists have also suggested that an appeal to such factors can help deal with problems facing existing accounts of actual causation. This article develops a flexible formal framework for incorporating defaults, typicality, and normality into an account of actual causation. The resulting account takes actual causation to be both graded and (...) comparative. We then show how our account would handle a number of standard cases. 1 Introduction2 Causal Models3 The HP Definition of Actual Causation4 The Problem of Isomorphism5 Defaults, Typicality, and Normality6 Extended Causal Models7 Examples7.1 Omissions7.2 Knobe effects7.3 Causes versus background conditions7.4 Bogus prevention7.5 Causal chains7.6 Legal doctrines of intervening causes7.7 Pre-emption and short circuits8 Conclusion. (shrink)
Consensus in the contemporary philosophical literature has it that conserved quantity theories of causation such as that of Dowe —according to which causation is to be analysed in terms of the exchange of conserved quantities (e.g., energy)—face damning problems when confronted with contemporary physics, where the notion of conservation becomes delicate. In particular, in general relativity it is often claimed that there simply are no conservation laws for (say) total-stress energy. If this claim is correct, it is difficult to see (...) how conserved quantity theories of causation could survive. In this article, we resist the above consensus and defend conserved quantity theories from this conclusion, at least when focusing on the apparent problems posed by general relativity. We argue that this approach to causation can continue to be defended in general relativity, once one appreciates (a) the availability of approximate symmetries in generic general relativistic spacetimes, and (b) the role of modelling and idealisation in that theory. Given these points, conserved quantity theories of causation must stand or fall on other grounds. (shrink)
Weak emergence has been offered as an explication of the ubiquitous notion of emergence used in complexity science (Bedau 1997). After outlining the problem of emergence and comparing weak emergence with the two other main objectivist approaches to emergence, this paper explains a version of weak emergence and illustrates it with cellular automata. Then it explains the sort of downward causation and explanatory autonomy involved in weak emergence.
Which country, politician, or policy is more of a cause of the Covid-19 pandemic death toll? Which of the two factories causally contributed more to the pollution of the nearby river? A wide-ranging portion of our everyday thought and talk, and attitudes rely on a graded notion of causation. However, it is sometimes highlighted that on most contemporary accounts, causation is on-off. Some philosophers further question the legitimacy of talk of degrees of causation and suggest that we avoid it. Some (...) hold that the notion of degrees of causation is an illusion. In this paper, I’ll argue that causation does come in degrees. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle or antinomy about the role of properties in causation. In theories of properties, a distinction is often made between determinable properties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinable properties are cited in causal explanations, as when we say that someone stopped at the traffic light because it was red. If we accept that properties can be among the relata of causation, then it can be argued that there are (...) good reasons for allowing that some of these are determinable properties. On the other hand, there are strong arguments in the metaphysics of properties to treat properties as sparse in David Lewis’s (1983) sense. But then it seems that we only need to believe in the most determinate properties: particular shades of colour, specific masses, lengths and so on. And if we also agree with Lewis that sparse properties are ‘the ones relevant to causal powers’ (1983: 13) it seems we must conclude that if properties are relevant to causation at all, then all of these are determinate properties. I call this ‘the antinomy of determinable causation’. On the one hand, we have a good argument for the claim that determinable properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Thesis. But on the other hand, we have a good argument for the claim that only the most determinate properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Antithesis. Clearly, we need to reject either the Thesis or the.. (shrink)
What would it be for a process to happen backwards in time? Would such a process involve different causal relations? It is common to understand the time-reversal invariance of a physical theory in causal terms, such that whatever can happen forwards in time can also happen backwards in time. This has led many to hold that time-reversal symmetry is incompatible with the asymmetry of cause and effect. This article critiques the causal reading of time reversal. First, I argue that the (...) causal reading requires time-reversal-related models to be understood as representing distinct possible worlds and, on such a reading, causal relations are compatible with time-reversal symmetry. Second, I argue that the former approach does, however, raise serious sceptical problems regarding the causal relations of paradigm causal processes and as a consequence there are overwhelming reasons to prefer a non-causal reading of time reversal, whereby time reversal leaves causal relations invariant. On the non-causal reading, time-reversal symmetry poses no significant conceptual nor epistemological problems for causation. _1_ Introduction _1.1_ The directionality argument _1.2_ Time reversal _2_ What Does Time Reversal Reverse? _2.1_ The B- and C-theory of time _2.2_ Time reversal on the C-theory _2.3_ Answers _3_ Does Time Reversal Reverse Causal Relations? _3.1_ Causation, billiards, and snooker _3.2_ The epistemology of causal direction _3.3_ Answers _4_ Is Time-Reversal Symmetry Compatible with Causation? _4.1_ Incompatibilism _4.2_ Compatibilism _4.3_ Answers _5_ Outlook. (shrink)
This paper explores and defends the idea that mental properties and their physical bases jointly cause their physical effects. The paper evaluates the view as an emergentist response to the exclusion problem, comparing it with a competing nonreductive physicalist solution, the compatibilist solution, and argues that the joint causation view is more defensible than commonly supposed. Specifically, the paper distinguishes two theses of closure, Strong Closure and Weak Closure, two causal exclusion problems, the overdetermination problem and the supervenience problem, and (...) argues that emergentists can avoid the overdetermination problem by denying Strong Closure and respond to the supervenience problem by accepting the joint causation view. (shrink)
Bradford Skow examines important philosophical questions about causation and explanation. His answers rely on a pair of connected distinctions: the distinction between acting and not acting, and that between situations in which an event happens and when something is in some state.
The problem of mental causation is discussed by taking into account some recent developments in the philosophy of science. The problem is viewed from the perspective of the new interventionist theory of causation developed by Woodward. The import of the idea that causal claims involve contrastive classes in mental causation is also discussed. It is argued that mental causation is much less a problem than it has appeared to be.
Causation and the laws of nature are nothing over and above the pattern of events, just like a movie is nothing over and above the sequence of frames. Or so I will argue. The position I will argue for is broadly inspired by Hume and Lewis, and may be expressed in the slogan: what must be, must be grounded in what is.
In this paper, I argue that causal theories of memory are typically committed to two independent, non-mutually entailing theses. The first thesis pertains to the necessity of appropriate causation in memory, specifying a condition token memories need to satisfy. The second pertains to the explanation of memory reliability in causal terms and it concerns memory as a type of mental state. Post-causal theories of memory can reject only the first (weak post-causalism) or both (strong post-causalism) theses. Upon this backdrop, I (...) examine Werning’s (2020) causalist argument from probabilistic correlation. I argue that it doesn’t establish the necessity of appropriate causation and thus it can only target strong post-causalist theories. I end up by presenting some general considerations, suggesting that memories may not always be causally linked to past experiences. (shrink)
The reduction of grounding to causation, or each to a more general relation of which they are species, has sometimes been justified by the impressive inferential capacity of structural equation modelling, causal Bayes nets, and interventionist causal modelling. Many criticisms of this assimilation focus on how causation is inadequate for grounding. Here, I examine the other direction: how treating grounding in the image of causation makes the resulting view worse for causation. The distinctive features of causal modelling that make this (...) connection appealing are distorted beyond use by forcing them to fit onto grounding. The very inferential strength that makes causation attractive is only possible because of a narrow construal of what counts as a causal relation; as soon as that broadens, the inferential capacity markedly diminishes. Making causation suitable for application to grounding spoils what was appealing about causation for this task in the first place. However, grounding need not appeal to causation: causal modelling does not have exclusive claim to structural equation modeling or other formal techniques of modelling structure. I offer a case in favour of a different kind of metaphysical frugality, which tend towards narrow, more restrictive construals of relations like causation or grounding, because then each relation behaves more homogenously. This more homogenous behavior delivers stronger inferential power per relation even though there may be more relations to which one is committed. (shrink)
We claim that if a complete philosophy of evidence-based practice is intended, then attention to the nature of causation in health science is necessary. We identify how health science currently conceptualises causation by the way it prioritises some research methods over others. We then show how the current understanding of what causation is serves to constrain scientific progress. An alternative account of causation is offered. This is one of dispositionalism. We claim that by understanding causation from a dispositionalist stance, many (...) of the processes within an evidence-based practice framework are better accounted for. Further, some of the problems associated with the health research, e.g. external validity of causal findings, dissolve. (shrink)
This paper explores the prospects of employing a functional approach in order to improve our concept of actual causation. Claims of actual causation play an important role for a variety of purposes. In particular, they are relevant for identifying suitable targets for intervention, and they are relevant for our practices of ascribing responsibility. I argue that this gives rise to the challenge of purpose. The challenge of purpose arises when different goals demand adjustments of the concept that pull in opposing (...) directions. More specifically, I argue that a common distinction between certain kinds of preempted and preempting factors is difficult to motivate from an interventionist viewpoint. This indicates that an appropriately revised concept of actual causation would not distinguish between these two kinds of factors. From the viewpoint of retributivist responsibility, however, the distinction between preempted and preempting factors sometimes is important, which indicates that the distinction should be retained. (shrink)
Three general accounts of causation stand out in early modern philosophy: Cartesian interactionism, occasionalism, and Leibniz's preestablished harmony. The contributors to this volume examine these theories in their philosophical and historical context. They address them both as a means for answering specific questions regarding causal relations and in their relation to one another, in particular, comparing occasionalism and the preestablished harmony as responses to Descartes's metaphysics and physics and the Cartesian account of causation. Philosophers discussed include Descartes, Gassendi, Malebranche, Arnauld, (...) Leibniz, Bayle, La Forge, and other, less well-known figures. (shrink)
Causation is the main foundation upon which the possibility of science rests. Without causation, there would be no scientific understanding, explanation, prediction, nor application in new technologies. How we discover causal connections is no easy matter, however. Causation often lies hiddenfrom view and it is vital that we adopt the right methods for uncovering it. The choice of methods will inevitably reflect what one takes causation to be, making an accurate account of causation an even more pressing matter. This enquiry (...) informs the correct norms for an empirical study of the world. In Causation in Science and the Methods of Scientific Discovery, Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford propose nine new norms of scientific discovery. A number of existing methodological and philosophical orthodoxies are challenged as they argue that progress in science is being held back by an overlysimplistic philosophy of causation. (shrink)
Manipulablity theories of causation, according to which causes are to be regarded as handles or devices for manipulating effects, have considerable intuitive appeal and are popular among social scientists and statisticians. This article surveys several prominent versions of such theories advocated by philosophers, and the many difficulties they face. Philosophical statements of the manipulationist approach are generally reductionist in aspiration and assign a central role to human action. These contrast with recent discussions employing a broadly manipulationist framework for understanding causation, (...) such as those due to the computer scientist Judea Pearl and others, which are non-reductionist and rely instead on the notion of an intervention. This is simply an appropriately exogenous causal process; it has no essential connection with human action. This interventionist framework manages to avoid at least some of these difficulties faced by traditional philosophical versions of the manipulability theory and helps to clarify the content of causal claims. (shrink)
We currently have on offer a variety of different theories of causation. Many are strikingly good, providing detailed and plausible treatments of exemplary cases; and all suffer from clear counterexamples. I argue that, contra Hume and Kant, this is because causation is not a single, monolithic concept. There are different kinds of causal relations imbedded in different kinds of systems, readily described using thick causal concepts. Our causal theories pick out important and useful structures that fit some familiar cases—cases we (...) discover and ones we devise to fit. (shrink)
The concept of causation is fundamental to ascribing moral and legal responsibility for events. Yet the precise relationship between causation and responsibility remains unclear. This book clarifies that relationship through an analysis of the best accounts of causation in metaphysics, and a critique of the confusion in legal doctrine. The result is a powerful argument in favour of reforming the moral and legal understanding of how and why we attribute responsibility to agents.
This paper discusses some issues concerning the relationship between the mental and the physical, including the so-called causal exclusion argument, within the framework of a broadly interventionist approach to causation.
In this book, Reiss argues in favor of a tight fit between evidence, concept and purpose in our causal investigations in the sciences. There is no doubt that the sciences employ a vast array of techniques to address causal questions such as controlled experiments, randomized trials, statistical and econometric tools, causal modeling and thought experiments. But how do these different methods relate to each other and to the causal inquiry at hand? Reiss argues that there is no "gold standard" in (...) settling causal issues against which other methods can be measured. Rather, the various methods of inference tend to be good only relative to certain interpretations of the word "cause", and each interpretation, in turn, helps to address some salient purpose but not others. The main objective of this book is to explore the metaphysical and methodological consequences of this view in the context of numerous cases studies from the natural and social sciences. (shrink)
I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to loose and varying collections of causal notions that form folk sciences of causation. This (...) recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces. (shrink)
Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...) apply equally to actions and omissions. (shrink)
I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science of causation. This (...) recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces. (shrink)
The Problems of Mental Causation. Functionalism in the philosophy of mind identifies mental states with their dispositional connections with other mental states, perceptions and actions. Many theories of the mind have sailed under the Functionalist flag. But what I take to be essential to Functionalism is that mental states are individuated causally: the reality of mental states depends essentially on their causal efficacy.
There have recently been a number of strong claims that normative considerations, broadly construed, influence many philosophically important folk concepts and perhaps are even a constitutive component of various cognitive processes. Many such claims have been made about the influence of such factors on our folk notion of causation. In this paper, we argue that the strong claims found in the recent literature on causal cognition are overstated, as they are based on one narrow type of data about a particular (...) type of causal cognition; the extant data do not warrant any wide-ranging conclusions about the pervasiveness of normative considerations in causal cognition. Of course, almost all empirical investigations involve some manner of ampliative inference, and so we provide novel empirical results demonstrating that there are types of causal cognition that do not seem to be influenced by moral considerations. (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)