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Physical Causation

Cambridge University Press (2000)

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  1. A Matter of Principle: The Principles of Quantum Theory, Dirac’s Equation, and Quantum Information.Arkady Plotnitsky - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (10):1222-1268.
    This article is concerned with the role of fundamental principles in theoretical physics, especially quantum theory. The fundamental principles of relativity will be addressed as well, in view of their role in quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory, specifically Dirac’s work, which, in particular Dirac’s derivation of his relativistic equation of the electron from the principles of relativity and quantum theory, is the main focus of this article. I shall also consider Heisenberg’s earlier work leading him to the discovery of (...)
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  • Being Positive About Negative Facts.Mark Jago & Stephen Barker - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):117-138.
    Negative facts get a bad press. One reason for this is that it is not clear what negative facts are. We provide a theory of negative facts on which they are no stranger than positive atomic facts. We show that none of the usual arguments hold water against this account. Negative facts exist in the usual sense of existence and conform to an acceptable Eleatic principle. Furthermore, there are good reasons to want them around, including their roles in causation, chance-making (...)
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  • Living Causes.John Dupré - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):19-37.
    This paper considers the applicability of standard accounts of causation to living systems. In particular it examines critically the increasing tendency to equate causal explanation with the identification of a mechanism. A range of differences between living systems and paradigm mechanisms are identified and discussed. While in principle it might be possible to accommodate an account of mechanism to these features, the attempt to do so risks reducing the idea of a mechanism to vacuity. It is proposed that the solution (...)
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  • On 'Stabilising' Medical Mechanisms, Truth-Makers and Epistemic Causality: A Critique to Williamson and Russo's Approach.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2012 - Synthese 187 (2):785-800.
    In this paper I offer an anti-Humean critique to Williamson and Russo’s approach to medical mechanisms. I focus on one of the specific claims made by Williamson and Russo, namely the claim that micro-structural ‘mechanisms’ provide evidence for the stability across populations of causal relationships ascertained at the (macro-) level of (test) populations. This claim is grounded in the epistemic account of causality developed by Williamson, an account which—while not relying exclusively on mechanistic evidence for justifying causal judgements—appeals nevertheless to (...)
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  • Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation.Michael Esfeld - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (2):207 - 220.
    The paper argues for four claims: (1) The problem of mental causation and the argument for its solution in terms of the identity of mental with physical causes are independent of the theory of causation one favours. (2) If one considers our experience of agency as described by folk psychology to be veridical, one is committed to an anti-Humean metaphysics of causation in terms of powers that establish necessary connections. The same goes for functional properties in general. (3) A metaphysics (...)
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  • Précis of Depth. [REVIEW]Michael Strevens - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):447-460.
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  • Mechanistic Theories of Causality Part I.Jon Williamson - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (6):421-432.
    Part I of this paper introduces a range of mechanistic theories of causality, including process theories and the complex-systems theories, and some of the problems they face. Part II argues that while there is a decisive case against a purely mechanistic analysis, a viable theory of causality must incorporate mechanisms as an ingredient, and describes one way of providing an analysis of causality which reaps the rewards of the mechanistic approach without succumbing to its pitfalls.
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  • On Spatial and Temporal Ex Mensura Boundaries.Giovanni Boniolo, Rossella Faraldo & Antonio Saggion - 2009 - Foundations of Science 14 (3):181-193.
    In this paper we will propose an empirical analysis of spatial and temporal boundaries. Unlike other proposals, which deal mainly with the commonsense level of the subject, we will ground our explication on well-established scientific practice and language. In this way we show how to reconsider in an innovative way questions such as the distinction between the bona fide boundaries and the fiat boundaries, the thickness and the ownership of the boundaries. At the same time we propose a division between (...)
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  • Functions and Cognitive Bases for the Concept of Actual Causation.David Danks - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):111-128.
    Our concept of actual causation plays a deep, ever-present role in our experiences. I first argue that traditional philosophical methods for understanding this concept are unlikely to be successful. I contend that we should instead use functional analyses and an understanding of the cognitive bases of causal cognition to gain insight into the concept of actual causation. I additionally provide initial, programmatic steps towards carrying out such analyses. The characterization of the concept of actual causation that results is quite different (...)
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  • What is an Empirical Analysis of Causation?Thomas D. Bontly - 2006 - Synthese 151 (2):177-200.
    Philosophical accounts of causation have traditionally been framed as attempts to analyze the concept of a cause. In recent years, however, a number of philosophers have proposed instead that causation be empirically reduced to some relation uncovered by the natural sciences: e.g., a relation of energy transfer. This paper argues that the project of empirical analysis lacks a clearly defined methodology, leaving it uncertain how such views are to be evaluated. It proposes several possible accounts of empirical analysis and argues (...)
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  • Grounding Causal Closure.Justin Tiehen - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3):501-522.
    What does it mean to say that mind-body dualism is causally problematic in a way that other mind-body theories, such as the psychophysical type identity theory, are not? After considering and rejecting various proposals, I advance my own, which focuses on what grounds the causal closure of the physical realm. A metametaphysical implication of my proposal is that philosophers working without the notion of grounding in their toolkit are metaphysically impoverished. They cannot do justice to the thought, encountered in every (...)
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  • Scientific W-Explanation as Ampliative, Specialized Embedding: A Neo-Hempelian Account.José Díez - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S8):1413-1443.
    The goal of this paper is to present and defend an empiricist, neo-Hempelian account of scientific explanation as ampliative, specialized embedding. The proposal aims to preserve what I take to be the core of Hempel’s empiricist account, by weakening it in some respects and strengthening it in others, introducing two new conditions that solve most of Hempel’s problems without abandoning his empiricist strictures. According to this proposal, to explain a phenomenon is to make it expectable by introducing new conceptual/ontological machinery (...)
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  • Presentism and Absence Causation: An Exercise in Mimicry.Brannon McDaniel - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):323-332.
    If _presentism_ is true, then no wholly non-present events exist. If _absence orthodoxy_ is true, then no absences exist. I discuss a well-known causal argument against presentism, and develop a very similar argument against absence orthodoxy. I argue that solutions to the argument against absence orthodoxy can be adopted by the presentist as solutions to the argument against presentism. The upshot is that if the argument against absence orthodoxy fails, then so does the argument against presentism.
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  • Unifying Biology Under the Search for Mechanisms.David Kalkman - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (3):447-458.
    In Search Of Mechanisms is a book about the methodology of biology. It is a work by Carl Craver and Lindley Darden, both of whom are well-known individually for their advocacy of mechanistic explanation—in the neurosciences and in the fields of genetics, cytology and molecular biology . Here, the two join forces to give a unified model of biological explanation, not limited to a particular area of biological enquiry, as rooted in the search for mechanisms.The objectives of the book are (...)
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  • Top-Down Causation Without Top-Down Causes.Carl F. Craver & William Bechtel - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563.
    We argue that intelligible appeals to interlevel causes (top-down and bottom-up) can be understood, without remainder, as appeals to mechanistically mediated effects. Mechanistically mediated effects are hybrids of causal and constitutive relations, where the causal relations are exclusively intralevel. The idea of causation would have to stretch to the breaking point to accommodate interlevel causes. The notion of a mechanistically mediated effect is preferable because it can do all of the required work without appealing to mysterious interlevel causes. When interlevel (...)
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  • Why Theories of Causality Need Production : An Information Transmission Account.Phyllis Illari - 2011 - Philosophy and Technology 24 (2):95-114.
    In this paper, I examine the comparatively neglected intuition of production regarding causality. I begin by examining the weaknesses of current production accounts of causality. I then distinguish between giving a good production account of causality and a good account of production. I argue that an account of production is needed to make sense of vital practices in causal inference. Finally, I offer an information transmission account of production based on John Collier’s work that solves the primary weaknesses of current (...)
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  • Explanation and Understanding.Angela Potochnik - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):29-38.
    Michael Strevens offers an account of causal explanation according to which explanatory practice is shaped by counterbalanced commitments to representing causal influence and abstracting away from overly specific details. In this paper, I challenge a key feature of that account. I argue that what Strevens calls explanatory frameworks figure prominently in explanatory practice because they actually improve explanations. This suggestion is simple but has far-reaching implications. It affects the status of explanations that cite multiply realizable properties; changes the explanatory role (...)
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  • Conservation of Energy is Relevant to Physicalism.Ole Koksvik - 2007 - Dialectica 61 (4):573-582.
    I argue against Barbara Montero's claim that Conservation of Energy has nothing to do with physicalism. I reject her reconstruction of the argument for physicalism from CoE, and offer an alternative reconstruction that better captures the intuitions of those who believe that there is a conflict between interactionist dualism and CoE.
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  • A Causal Model Theory of the Meaning of Cause, Enable, and Prevent.Steven Sloman, Aron K. Barbey & Jared M. Hotaling - 2009 - Cognitive Science 33 (1):21-50.
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  • Carnap on Concept Determination: Methodology for Philosophy of Science. [REVIEW]James Justus - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (2):161-179.
    Abstract Recent criticisms of intuition from experimental philosophy and elsewhere have helped undermine the authority of traditional conceptual analysis. As the product of more empirically informed philosophical methodology, this result is compelling and philosophically salutary. But the negative critiques rarely suggest a positive alternative. In particular, a normative account of concept determination—how concepts should be characterized—is strikingly absent from such work. Carnap's underappreciated theory of explication provides such a theory. Analyses of complex concepts in empirical sciences illustrates and supports this (...)
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  • What Causally Insensitive Events Tell Us About Overdetermination.Sara Bernstein - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):1-18.
    Suppose that Billy and Suzy each throw a rock at window, and either rock is sufficient to shatter the window. While some consider this a paradigmatic case of causal overdetermination, in which multiple cases are sufficient for an outcome, others consider it a case of joint causation, in which multiple causes are necessary to bring about an effect. Some hold that every case of overdetermination is a case of joint causation underdescribed: at a maximal level of description, every cause is (...)
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  • The Frustrating Problem For Four-Dimensionalism.A. P. Taylor - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):1097-1115.
    I argue that four-dimensionalism and the desire satisfaction account of well-being are incompatible. For every person whose desires are satisfied, there will be many shorter-lived individuals (‘person-stages’ or ‘subpersons’) who share the person’s desires but who do not exist long enough to see those desires satisfied; not only this, but in many cases their desires are frustrated so that the desires of the beings in whom they are embedded as proper temporal parts may be fulfilled. I call this the frustrating (...)
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  • Interventionism, Control Variables and Causation in the Qualitative World.John Campbell - 2008 - Philosophical Issues 18 (1):426-445.
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  • Mechanisms Revisited.James Woodward - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):409-427.
    This paper defends an interventionist treatment of mechanisms and contrasts this with Waskan (forthcoming). Interventionism embodies a difference-making conception of causation. I contrast such conceptions with geometrical/mechanical or “actualist” conceptions, associating Waskan’s proposals with the latter. It is argued that geometrical/mechanical conceptions of causation cannot replace difference-making conceptions in characterizing the behavior of mechanisms, but that some of the intuitions behind the geometrical/mechanical approach can be captured by thinking in terms of spatio-temporally organized difference-making information.
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  • The Role Functionalist Theory of Absences.Justin Tiehen - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (3):505-519.
    Functionalist theories have been proposed for just about everything: mental states, dispositions, moral properties, truth, causation, and much else. The time has come for a functionalist theory of nothing. Or, more accurately, a role functionalist theory of those absences that are causes and effects.
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  • What's the Role of Spatial Awareness in Visual Perception of Objects?John Campbell - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (5):548–562.
    I set out two theses. The first is Lynn Robertson’s: (a) spatial awareness is a cause of object perception. A natural counterpoint is: (b) spatial awareness is a cause of your ability to make accurate verbal reports about a perceived object. Zenon Pylyshyn has criticized both. I argue that nonetheless, the burden of the evidence supports both (a) and (b). Finally, I argue conscious visual perception of an object has a different causal role to both: (i) non-conscious perception of the (...)
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  • Metaphysically Reductive Causation.Ned Hall & L. A. Paul - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):9-41.
    There are, by now, many rival, sophisticated philosophical accounts of causation that qualify as ‘metaphysically reductive’. This is a good thing: these collective efforts have vastly improved our understanding of causation over the last 30 years or so. They also put us in an excellent position to reflect on some central methodological questions: What exactly is the point of offering a metaphysical reduction of causation? What philosophical scruples ought to guide the pursuit of such a reduction? Finally, how should answers (...)
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  • Moore's Truths About Causation and Responsibility: A Reply to Alexander and Ferzan. [REVIEW]Michael S. Moore - 2012 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 6 (3):445-462.
    In this response to the review of Moore, Causation and Responsibility, by Larry Alexander and Kimberly Ferzan, previously published in this journal, two issues are discussed. The first is whether causation, counterfactual dependence, moral blame, and culpability, are all scalar properties or relations, that is, matters of more-or-less rather than either-or. The second issue discussed is whether deontological moral obligation is best described as a prohibition against using another as a means, or rather, as a prohibition on an agent strongly (...)
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  • A Physical Critique of Physical Causation.Tracy Lupher - 2009 - Synthese 167 (1):67 - 80.
    The conserved quantities theory of causation (CQTC) attempts to use physics as the basis for an account of causation. However, a closer examination of the physics involved in CQTC reveals several critical failures. Some of the conserved quantities in physics cannot be used to distinguish causal interactions. Other conserved quantities cannot always be the properties of fields or particles. Finally, CQCT does not account for causal interactions that are static.
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  • Connection and Influence: A Process Theory of Causation.Alexander Rueger - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (1):77-97.
    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.
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  • The Causal Closure Principle.Sophie Gibb - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):626-647.
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  • Causation Without Influence.Tomasz Bigaj - 2012 - Erkenntnis 76 (1):1-22.
    David Lewis’s latest theory of causation defines the causal link in terms of the relation of influence between events. It turns out, however, that one event’s influencing another is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for its being a cause of that event. In the article one particular case of causality without influence is presented and developed. This case not only serves as a counterexample to Lewis’s influence theory, but also threatens earlier counterfactual analyses of causation by admitting a particularly (...)
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  • A Contextual Approach to Scientific Understanding.Henk Regt & Dennis Dieks - 2005 - Synthese 144 (1):137-170.
    Achieving understanding of nature is one of the aims of science. In this paper we offer an analysis of the nature of scientific understanding that accords with actual scientific practice and accommodates the historical diversity of conceptions of understanding. Its core idea is a general criterion for the intelligibility of scientific theories that is essentially contextual: which theories conform to this criterion depends on contextual factors, and can change in the course of time. Our analysis provides a general account of (...)
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  • A Force-Theoretic Framework for Event Structure.Bridget Copley & Heidi Harley - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):103-158.
    We propose an account of dynamic predicates which draws on the notion of force, eliminating reference to events in the linguistic semantics. We treat dynamic predicates as predicates of forces, represented as functions from an initial situation to a final situation that occurs ceteris paribus, that is, if nothing external intervenes. The possibility that opposing forces might intervene to prevent the transition to a given final situation leads us to a novel analysis of non-culminating accomplishment predicates in a variety of (...)
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  • “Explain” in Scientific Discourse.James A. Overton - 2013 - Synthese 190 (8):1383-1405.
    The philosophical literature on scientific explanation contains a striking diversity of accounts. I use novel empirical methods to address this fragmentation and assess the importance and generality of explanation in science. My evidence base is a set of 781 articles from one year of the journal Science, and I begin by applying text mining techniques to discover patterns in the usage of “explain” and other words of philosophical interest. I then use random sampling from the data set to develop and (...)
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  • Michael Esfeld und Christian Sachse: Kausale Strukturen. Einheit und Vielfalt in der Natur und den Naturwissenschaften. [REVIEW]Matthias Neuber - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):415-419.
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