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Proportionality and omissions

Analysis 70 (3):446-451 (2010)

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  1. Omissions, Causation, and Responsibility: A Reply to McLachlan and Coggon.Andrew J. McGee - 2011 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 8 (4):351-361.
    In this paper I discuss a recent exchange of articles between Hugh McLachlan and John Coggon on the relationship between omissions, causation, and moral responsibility. My aim is to contribute to their debate by isolating a presupposition I believe they both share and by questioning that presupposition. The presupposition is that, at any given moment, there are countless things that I am omitting to do. This leads both McLachlan and Coggon to give a distorted account of the relationship between causation (...)
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  • Agency as Difference-Making: Causal Foundations of Moral Responsibility.Johannes Himmelreich - 2015 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science
    We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is (...)
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  • What Killed Your Plant? Profligate Omissions and Weak Centering.Johannes Himmelreich - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    This paper is on the problem of profligate omissions. The problem is that counterfactual definitions of causation identify as a cause anything that could have prevented an effect but that did not actually occur, which is a highly counterintuitive result. Many solutions of this problem appeal to normative, epistemic, pragmatic, or metaphysical considerations. These existing solutions are in some sense substantive. In contrast, this paper concentrates on the semantics of counterfactuals. I propose to replace Strong Centering with Weak Centering. This (...)
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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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  • A Defense of Causal Invariantism.Martin Montminy & Andrew Russo - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):49-75.
    Causal contextualism holds that sentences of the form ‘c causes e’ have context-sensitive truth-conditions. We consider four arguments invoked by Jonathan Schaffer in favor of this view. First, he argues that his brand of contextualism helps solve puzzles about transitivity. Second, he contends that how one describes the relata of the causal relation sometimes affects the truth of one’s claim. Third, Schaffer invokes the phenomenon of contrastive focus to conclude that causal statements implicitly designate salient alternatives to the cause and (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Two Problems for Proportionality About Omissions.Sara Bernstein - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (3):429-441.
    Theories of causation grounded in counterfactual dependence face the problem of profligate omissions: numerous irrelevant omissions count as causes of an outcome. A recent purported solution to this problem is proportionality, which selects one omission among many candidates as the cause of an outcome. This paper argues that proportionality cannot solve the problem of profligate omissions for two reasons. First: the determinate/determinable relationship that holds between properties like aqua and blue does not hold between negative properties like not aqua and (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Omissions.Sara Bernstein - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (3):208-218.
    Omissions – any events, actions, or things that do not occur – are central to numerous debates in causation and ethics. This article surveys views on what omissions are, whether they are causally efficacious, and how they ground moral responsibility.
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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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  • 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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  • A Defense of Nonreductive Mental Causation.Andrew Russo - 2013 - Dissertation, The University of Oklahoma
    Mental causation is a problem and not just a problem for the nonphysicalist. One of the many lessons learned from Jaegwon Kim’s writings in the philosophy of mind is that mental causation is a problem for the nonreductive physicalist as well. A central component of the common sense picture we have of ourselves as persons is that our beliefs and desires causally explain our actions. But the completeness of the “brain sciences” threatens this picture. If all of our actions are (...)
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  • Counterfactuals and Counterparts: Defending a Neo-Humean Theory of Causation.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Dissertation, Macquarie University and University of Glasgow
    Whether there exist causal relations between guns firing and people dying, between pedals pressed and cars accelerating, or between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, is typically taken to be a mind-independent, objective, matter of fact. However, recent contributions to the literature on causation, in particular theories of contrastive causation and causal modelling, have undermined this central causal platitude by relativising causal facts to models or to interests. This thesis flies against the prevailing wind by arguing that we must pay (...)
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  • Identifying Privative Causes.J. Haldane - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):611-619.
    Next SectionCausation by and of absences, omissions or privations, seems to be implied by common styles of description and explanation. Allowing that absences are actuality-dependent, one may yet maintain that they are ineliminable. Against the idea of privative causes stand the objections that there is no principled way to individuate them, or that any account of their identity is objectionally normative. Here I respond to these objections and provide an account of the conditions for identifying privative causes and effects. This (...)
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  • Omissions as Events and Actions.Kenneth Silver - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (1):33-48.
    We take ourselves to be able to omit to perform certain actions and to be at times responsible for these omissions. Moreover, omissions seem to have effects and to be manifestations of our agency. So, it is natural to think that omissions must be events. However, very few people writing on this topic have been willing to argue that omissions are events. Such a view is taken to face three significant challenges: (i) omissions are thought to be somehow problematically negative, (...)
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