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Causing and Nothingness

In L. A. Paul, E. J. Hall & J. Collins (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. pp. 291--308 (2004)

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  1. Excusas y eximientes.Miranda del Corral - 2015 - Tópicos: Revista de Filosofía 49:231-256.
    Las excusas y las condiciones eximentes tienen como finalidad mitigar la responsabilidad. Este artículo propone una distinción entre excusas y eximentes basada en el tipo distintivo de juicio que cada una trata de responder. Argumento que los eximentes afectan la relevancia causal del acusado, mientras que las excusas lo justifican total o parcialmente, porque afectan al juicio evaluativo implícito en las atribuciones de responsabilidad. Esta distinción apoya una concepción de las atribuciones de responsabilidad como un proceso en dos etapas, donde (...)
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  • Normal Knowledge: Toward an Explanation-Based Theory of Knowledge.Andrew Peet & Eli Pitcovski - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy 115 (3):141-157.
    In this paper we argue that knowledge is characteristically safe true belief. We argue that an adequate approach to epistemic luck must not be indexed to methods of belief formation, but rather to explanations for belief. This shift is problematic for several prominent approaches to the theory of knowledge, including virtue reliabilism and proper functionalism (as normally conceived). The view that knowledge is characteristically safe true belief is better able to accommodate the shift in question.
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  • Omissions, Responsibility, and Symmetry.Randolph Clarke - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (3):594-624.
    It is widely held that one can be responsible for doing something that one was unable to avoid doing. This paper focuses primarily on the question of whether one can be responsible for not doing something that one was unable to do. The paper begins with an examination of the account of responsibility for omissions offered by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, arguing that in many cases it yields mistaken verdicts. An alternative account is sketched that jibes with and (...)
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  • Derivative Culpability.Martin Montminy - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (5):689-709.
    I explore the question of when an agent is derivatively, rather than directly, culpable for an undesirable outcome. The undesirable outcome might be a harmful incompetent or unwitting act, or it might be a harmful event. By examining various cases, I develop a sophisticated account of indirect culpability that is neutral about controversies regarding normative ethical issues and the condition on direct culpability.
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  • Contrastive Explanation and the Many Absences Problem.Jane Suilin Lavelle, George Botterill & Suzanne Lock - 2013 - Synthese 190 (16):3495-3510.
    We often explain by citing an absence or an omission. Apart from the problem of assigning a causal role to such apparently negative factors as absences and omissions, there is a puzzle as to why only some absences and omissions, out of indefinitely many, should figure in explanations. In this paper we solve this ’many absences problem’ by using the contrastive model of explanation. The contrastive model of explanation is developed by adapting Peter Lipton’s account. What initially appears to be (...)
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  • Negative Causation in Causal and Mechanistic Explanation.D. Benjamin Barros - 2013 - Synthese 190 (3):449-469.
    Instances of negative causation—preventions, omissions, and the like—have long created philosophical worries. In this paper, I argue that concerns about negative causation can be addressed in the context of causal explanation generally, and mechanistic explanation specifically. The gravest concern about negative causation is that it exacerbates the problem of causal promiscuity—that is, the problem that arises when a particular account of causation identifies too many causes for a particular effect. In the explanatory context, the problem of promiscuity can be solved (...)
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  • Absence of Action.Randolph Clarke - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (2):361-376.
    Often when one omits to do a certain thing, there's no action that is one's omission; one's omission, it seems, is an absence of any action of some type. This paper advances the view that an absence of an action--and, in general, any absence--is nothing at all: there is nothing that is an absence. Nevertheless, it can result from prior events that one omits to do a certain thing, and there can be results of the fact that one omits to (...)
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  • Omissions as Possibilities.Sara Bernstein - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (1):1-23.
    I present and develop the view that omissions are de re possibilities of actual events. Omissions do not literally fail to occur; rather, they possibly occur. An omission is a tripartite metaphysical entity composed of an actual event, a possible event, and a contextually specified counterpart relation between them. This view resolves ontological, causal, and semantic puzzles about omissions, and also accounts for important data about moral responsibility for outcomes resulting from omissions.
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  • Shifty Talk: Knowledge and Causation.Jessica Brown - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):183-199.
    In this paper, I criticise one main strategy for supporting anti-intellectualism, the view that whether a subject knows may depend on the stakes. This strategy appeals to difficulties with developing contextualist and pragmatic treatments of the shiftiness of our talk about knowledge to motivate anti-intellectualism. I criticise this strategy by drawing an analogy between debates about causation and knowledge. In each case, talk about a phenomenon is shifty and contextualist and pragmatic explanations of the shifty talk face the same objections. (...)
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  • Causal Grounds for Negative Truths.Robin Stenwall - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):2973-2989.
    Among truthmaker theorists it is generally thought that we are not able to use the entailment principle to ground negative truths. But these theorists usually only discuss truthmakers for truth-functional complexes, thereby overlooking the fact that there are non-truth-functional complexes whose truth values are not solely determined by the truth or falsity of their atomic propositions. And once we expand the class of truths that require their own bespoke truthmakers to also include these, there is no reason to exempt negative (...)
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  • Moore and Schaffer on the Ontology of Omissions.David Hommen - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):71-89.
    In this paper, I discuss Michael Moore’s and Jonathan Schaffer’s views on the ontology of omissions in context of their stances on the problem of omissive causation. First, I consider, from a general point of view, the question of the ontology of omissions, and how it relates to the problem of omissive causation. Then I describe Moore’s and Schaffer’s particular views on omissions and how they combine with their stances on the problem of omissive causation. I charge Moore and Schaffer (...)
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  • Causal and Constitutive Explanation Compared.Petri Ylikoski - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):277-297.
    This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between building and causal manipulation, causation and constitution are not to be confused. Constitution is a synchronous and (...)
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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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  • Actual Causes and Free Will.Carolina Sartorio - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):147-165.
    In this paper I reexamine the debate between two contrasting conceptions of free will: the classical model, which understands freedom in terms of alternative possibilities, and a more recent family of views that focus only on actual causes, and that were inspired by Frankfurt’s famous attack on the principle of alternative possibilities. I offer a novel argument in support of the actual-causes model, one that bypasses the popular debate about Frankfurt-style cases.
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  • Causation by Absence: Omission Impossible.Lawrence B. Lombard & Tiffany Hudson - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-17.
    In this paper, we argue that, omissions are not events or actions, but rather fact-like entities, and that, insofar as only events and actions can be causes, omissions cannot be causes. Nevertheless, since omissions can, and often do, play a role in the explanations of events, their place in such explanations must be found; and an attempt to find such a place is made.
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  • Explanation in Metaphysics?Johannes Persson - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):165-181.
    Arguments from explanation, i.e. arguments in which the explanatory value of a hypothesis or premise is appealed to, are common in science, and explanatory considerations are becoming more popular in metaphysics. The paper begins by arguing that explanatory arguments in science—even when these are metaphysical explanations— may fail to be explanatory in metaphysics; there is a distinction to be drawn between metaphysical explanation and explanation in metaphysics. This makes it potentially problematic to deploy arguments from explanation in, for instance, metaphysics (...)
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  • On Privations and Their Perception.Casey O’Callaghan - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):175-186.
    Despite its admirable bottom-up methodology, Roy Sorensen's Seeing Dark Things (OUP, 2008) raises difficult theoretical questions concerning the metaphysics and perception of absences. Metaphysical difficulties include how to individuate, count, locate, and classify absences, and what determines their features. Perceptual difficulties include how to distinguish experiences of absences and presences, especially when nonveridical, and what subjects contribute to perceptual experience according to Sorensen's causal theory. In addition to articulating these difficulties, this paper also presents and explores, on Sorensen's terms, an (...)
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  • Mental Causation as Multiple Causation.Thomas Kroedel - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 139 (1):125-143.
    The paper argues that mental causation can be explained from the sufficiency of counterfactual dependence for causation together with relatively weak assumptions about the metaphysics of mind. If a physical event counterfactually depends on an earlier physical event, it also counterfactually depends on, and hence is caused by, a mental event that correlates with (or supervenes on) this earlier physical event, provided that this correlation (or supervenience) is sufficiently modally robust. This account of mental causation is consistent with the overdetermination (...)
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  • Does Anything Hold the Universe Together?Helen Beebee - 2006 - Synthese 149 (3):509-533.
    According to ‘regularity theories’ of causation, the obtaining of causal relations depends on no more than the obtaining of certain kinds of regularity. Regularity theorists are thus anti-realists about necessary connections in nature. Regularity theories of one form or another have constituted the dominant view in analytic Philosophy for a long time, but have recently come in for some robust criticism, notably from Galen Strawson. Strawson’s criticisms are natural criticisms to make, but have not so far provoked much response from (...)
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  • A Model-Invariant Theory of Causation.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    I provide a theory of causation within the causal modeling framework. In contrast to most of its predecessors, this theory is model-invariant in the following sense: if the theory says that C caused (didn't cause) E in a causal model, M, then it will continue to say that C caused (didn't cause) E once we've removed an inessential variable from M. I suggest that, if this theory is true, then we should understand a cause as something which transmits deviant or (...)
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  • Causation, Norms, and Omissions: A Study of Causal Judgments.Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):279-293.
    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 (...)
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  • Conciliatory Metaontology and the Vindication of Common Sense.Matthew McGrath - 2008 - Noûs 42 (3):482-508.
    This paper is a critical response to Eli Hirsch’s recent work in metaontology. Hirsch argues that several prominent ontological disputes about physical objects are verbal, a conclusion he takes to vindicate common sense ontology. In my response, I focus on the debate over composition (van Inwagen’s special composition question). I argue that given Hirsch’s own criterion for a dispute’s being verbal – a dispute is verbal iff charity requires each side to interpret the other sides as speaking the truth in (...)
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  • Overdetermination in Intuitive Causal Decision Theory.Esteban Céspedes - 2013 - In Miguel Hoeltje, Thomas Spitzley & Wolfgang Spohn (eds.), Was dürfen wir glauben? Was sollen wir tun? Sektionsbeiträge des achten internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie e.V.
    Causal decision theory defines a rational action as the one that tends to cause the best outcomes. If we adopt counterfactual or probabilistic theories of causation, then we may face problems in overdetermination cases. Do such problems affect Causal decision theory? The aim of this work is to show that the concept of causation that has been fundamental in all versions of causal decision theory is not the most intuitive one. Since overdetermination poses problems for a counterfactual theory of causation, (...)
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  • Causal After All : A Model of Mental Causation for Dualists.Bram Vaassen - 2019 - Dissertation,
    In this dissertation, I develop and defend a model of causation that allows for dualist mental causation in worlds where the physical domain is physically complete. -/- In Part I, I present the dualist ontology that will be assumed throughout the thesis and identify two challenges for models of mental causation within such an ontology: the exclusion worry and the common cause worry. I also argue that a proper response to these challenges requires a thoroughly lightweight account of causation, i.e. (...)
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  • Proportionality and Omissions.Phil Dowe - 2010 - Analysis 70 (3):446-451.
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  • Causation: Empirical Trends and Future Directions.David Rose & David Danks - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):643-653.
    Empirical research has recently emerged as a key method for understanding the nature of causation, and our concept of causation. One thread of research aims to test intuitions about the nature of causation in a variety of classic cases. These experiments have principally been used to try to resolve certain debates within analytic philosophy, most notably that between proponents of transference and dependence views of causation. The other major thread of empirical research on our concept of causation has investigated the (...)
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  • Causality in Medicine with Particular Reference to the Viral Causation of Cancers.Brendan Clarke - 2011 - Dissertation, University College London
    In this thesis, I give a metascientific account of causality in medicine. I begin with two historical cases of causal discovery. These are the discovery of the causation of Burkitt’s lymphoma by the Epstein-Barr virus, and of the various viral causes suggested for cervical cancer. These historical cases then support a philosophical discussion of causality in medicine. This begins with an introduction to the Russo- Williamson thesis (RWT), and discussion of a range of counter-arguments against it. Despite these, I argue (...)
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  • The Talk I Was Supposed to Give….Achille C. Varzi - 2006 - In Andrea Bottani & Richard Davies (eds.), Modes of Existence: Papers in Ontology and Philosophical Logic. Ontos Verlag. pp. 131–152.
    Assuming that events form a genuine ontological category, shall we say that a good inventory of the world ought to include “negative” events—failures, omissions, things that didn’t happen—along with positive ones? I argue that we shouldn’t. Talk of non-occurring events is like talk of non-existing objects and should not be taken at face value. We often speak as though there were such things, but deep down we want our words to be interpreted in such a way as to avoid serious (...)
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  • Cause by Omission and Norm: Not Watering Plants.Paul Henne, Ángel Pinillos & Felipe De Brigard - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):270-283.
    People generally accept that there is causation by omission—that the omission of some events cause some related events. But this acceptance elicits the selection problem, or the difficulty of explaining the selection of a particular omissive cause or class of causes from the causal conditions. Some theorists contend that dependence theories of causation cannot resolve this problem. In this paper, we argue that the appeal to norms adequately resolves the selection problem for dependence theories, and we provide novel experimental evidence (...)
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  • Folk Intuitions of Actual Causation: A Two-Pronged Debunking Explanation.David Rose - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1323-1361.
    How do we determine whether some candidate causal factor is an actual cause of some particular outcome? Many philosophers have wanted a view of actual causation which fits with folk intuitions of actual causation and those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation are often charged with the task of providing a plausible account of just how and where the folk have gone wrong. In this paper, I provide a range of empirical evidence aimed at showing just (...)
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  • Causality in the McDowellian World.Alan Charles McKay - 2014 - Dissertation, Queen's University Belfast
    The thesis explores and suggests a solution to a problem that I identify in John McDowell’s and Lynne Rudder Baker’s approaches to mental and intention-dependent (ID) causation in the physical world. I begin (chapter 1) with a brief discussion of McDowell’s non-reductive and anti-scientistic account of mind and world, which I believe offers, through its vision of the unbounded conceptual and the world as within the space of reasons, to liberate and renew philosophy. However, I find an inconsistency in McDowell’s (...)
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  • Dispositional Explanations in Dualism.Janko Nesic - 2013 - Filozofija I Društvo 24 (4):218-241.
    In order to defend mental explanations dualists may appeal to dispositions (powers). By accepting a powers theory of causation, a dualist can more plausibly defend mental explanations that are given independently of physical explanations. Accepting a power-based theory still comes with a price. Absences and double preventers are not causes in a powers theory, and solutions based on them can only defend their explanatory relevance in mental explanations. There is still a chance that such mental explanations can be causal explanations, (...)
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  • Absence Causation for Causal Dispositionalists.Randolph Clarke - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (3):323-331.
    Several theories of causation reject causation of or by absences. They thereby clash with much of what we think and say about what causes what. This paper examines a way in which one kind of theory, causal dispositionalism, can be modified so as to accept absence causation, while still retaining a fundamental commitment of dispositionalism. The proposal adopts parts of a strategy described by David Lewis. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the problem of the proliferation of causes.
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  • Chance-Changing Causal Processes.Helen Beebee - 2004 - In Phil Dowe & Paul Noordhof (eds.), Cause and Chance. London: Routledge. pp. 39-57.
    Scepticism concerning the idea of causation being linked to contingent chance-raising is articulated in Beebee’s challenging chapter. She suggests that none of these approaches will avoid the consequence that spraying defoliant on a weed is a cause of the weed’s subsequent health. We will always be able to abstract away enough of the healthy plant processes so all that’s left is the causal chain involving defoliation and health. In those circumstances, there will be contingent chance-raising. Beebee’s conclusion is that we (...)
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  • Interventionism and the Exclusion Problem.Yasmin Bassi - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
    Jaegwon Kim (1998a, 2005) claims that his exclusion problem follows a priori for the non-reductive physicalist given her commitment to five apparently inconsistent theses: mental causation, non-identity, supervenience, causal closure and non-overdetermination. For Kim, the combination of these theses entails that mental properties are a priori excluded as causes, forcing the non-reductive physicalist to accept either epiphenomenalism, or some form of reduction. In this thesis, I argue that Kim’s exclusion problem depends on a particular conception of causation, namely sufficient production, (...)
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  • Mancanze, omissioni e descrizioni negative.Achille C. Varzi - 2006 - Rivista di Estetica 32 (2):109-127.
    Assuming that events form a genuine ontological category, shall we say that a good inventory of the world ought to include “negative” events—failures, omissions, things that didn’t happen—along with positive ones? I argue that we shouldn’t. Talk of non-occurring events is like talk of non-existing objects and should not be taken at face value. We often speak as though there were such things, but deep down we want our words to be interpreted in such a way as to avoid serious (...)
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  • Of Humean Bondage.Christopher Hitchcock - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (1):1-25.
    There are many ways of attaching two objects together: for example, they can be connected, linked, tied or bound together; and the connection, link, tie or bind can be made of chain, rope, or cement. Every one of these binding methods has been used as a metaphor for causation. What is the real significance of these metaphors? They express a commitment to a certain way of thinking about causation, summarized in the following thesis: ‘In any concrete situation, there is an (...)
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  • The Folk Probably Don't Think What You Think They Think: Experiments on Causation by Absence.Jonathan Livengood & Edouard Machery - 2007 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 31 (1):107–127.
    Folk theories—untutored people’s (often implicit) theories about various features of the world—have been fashionable objects of inquiry in psychology for almost two decades now (e.g., Hirschfeld and Gelman 1994), and more recently they have been of interest in experimental philosophy (Nichols 2004). Folk theories of psy- chology, physics, biology, and ethics have all come under investigation. Folk meta- physics, however, has not been as extensively studied. That so little is known about folk metaphysics is unfortunate for (at least) two reasons. (...)
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  • Sensitive and Insensitive Causation.James Woodward - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (1):1-50.
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  • Conservation Laws and Interactionist Dualism.Ben White - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):387–405.
    The Exclusion Argument for physicalism maintains that since (1) every physical effect has a sufficient physical cause, and (2) cases of causal overdetermination are rare, it follows that if (3) mental events cause physical events as frequently as they seem to, then (4) mental events must be physical in nature. In defence of (1), it is sometimes said that (1) is supported if not entailed by conservation laws. Against this, I argue that conservation laws do not lend sufficient support to (...)
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  • For Want of a Nail: How Absences Cause Events.Phillip Wolff, Aron K. Barbey & Matthew Hausknecht - 2010 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 139 (2):191-221.
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  • Determinism.Terrance Tomkow & Kadri Vihvelin - manuscript
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  • On the Dispensability of Grounding: Ground-Breaking Work on Metaphysical Explanation.James Norton - 2017 - Dissertation, The University of Sydney
    Primitive, unanalysable grounding relations are considered by many to be indispensable constituents of the metaphysician’s toolkit. Yet, as a primitive ontological posit, grounding must earn its keep by explaining features of the world not explained by other tools already at our disposal. Those who defend grounding contend that grounding is required to play two interconnected roles: accounting for widespread intuitions regarding what is ontologically prior to what, and forming the backbone of a theory of metaphysical explanation, in much the same (...)
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  • The Difference Between Cause and Condition.Alex Broadbent - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3):355-364.
    Commonly we distinguish the strike of a match, as a cause of the match lighting, from the presence of oxygen, as a mere condition. In this paper I propose an account of this phenomenon, which I call causal selection. I suggest some reasons for taking causal selection seriously, and indicate some shortcomings of the popular contrastive approach. Chief among these is the lack of an account of contrast choice. I propose that contrast choice is often just the counterfactual scenario in (...)
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  • Causes, Counterfactuals, and Non-Locality.Mathias Frisch - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):655-672.
    In order to motivate the thesis that there is no single concept of causation that can do justice to all of our core intuitions concerning that concept, Ned Hall has argued that there is a conflict between a counterfactual criterion of causation and the condition of causal locality. In this paper I critically examine Hall's argument within the context of a more general discussion of the role of locality constraints in a causal conception of the world. I present two strategies (...)
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  • An Anatomy of Moral Responsibility.M. Braham & M. van Hees - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):601-634.
    This paper examines the structure of moral responsibility for outcomes. A central feature of the analysis is a condition that we term the ‘avoidance potential’, which gives precision to the idea that moral responsibility implies a reasonable demand that an agent should have acted otherwise. We show how our theory can allocate moral responsibility to individuals in complex collective action problems, an issue that sometimes goes by the name of ‘the problem of many hands’. We also show how it allocates (...)
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  • Disconnection and Responsibility.Jonathan Schaffer - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (4):399-435.
    Michael Moore’s Causation and Responsibility offers an integrated conception of the law, morality, and metaphysics, centered on the notion of causation, grounded in a detailed knowledge of case law, and supported on every point by cogent argument. This is outstanding work. It is a worthy successor to Harte and Honoré’s classic Causation in the Law, and I expect that it will guide discussion for many years to come.
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  • Capturing Shadows: On Photography, Causation, and Absences.Mikael Pettersson - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):256-269.
    Many photographs seem to be images of absences: for instance, a photograph of a shadow seems to be an image of an absence, as shadows are plausibly thought of as being absences of light. Absence photography is puzzling, however, as, first, it is a common idea that photographs can only be images of things that have caused them, and, second, it is unclear whether absences can cause anything. In this paper, I look at various ways to unravel the puzzle. Along (...)
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  • Absence Causation and a Liberal Theory of Causal Explanation.Zhiheng Tang - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):688-705.
    For the framework of event causation—i.e. the framework according to which causation is a relation between events—absences or omissions pose a problem. Absences, it is generally agreed, are not events; so, under the framework of event causation, they cannot be causally related. But, as a matter of fact, absences are often taken to be causes or effects. The problem of absence causation is thus how to make sense of causation that apparently involves absences as causes or effects. In an influential (...)
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  • Proportionality, Contrast and Explanation.Brad Weslake - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797.
    If counterfactual dependence is sufficient for causation and if omissions can be causes, then all events have many more causes than common sense tends to recognize. This problem is standardly addressed by appeal to pragmatics. However, Carolina Sartorio [2010] has recently raised what I shall argue is a more interesting problem concerning omissions for counterfactual theories of causation—more interesting because it demands a more subtle pragmatic solution. I discuss the relationship between the idea that causes are proportional to their effects, (...)
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