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Causes need not be physically connected to their effects: The case for negative causation

In Christopher Read Hitchcock (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science. Blackwell. pp. 197--216 (2004)

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  1. 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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  • Mechanisms Are Real and Local.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
    Mechanisms have become much-discussed, yet there is still no consensus on how to characterise them. In this paper, we start with something everyone is agreed on – that mechanisms explain – and investigate what constraints this imposes on our metaphysics of mechanisms. We examine two widely shared premises about how to understand mechanistic explanation: (1) that mechanistic explanation offers a welcome alternative to traditional laws-based explanation and (2) that there are two senses of mechanistic explanation that we call ‘epistemic explanation’ (...)
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  • A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation.Alexander Mebius - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45:43-48.
    Much contemporary debate on the nature of mechanisms centers on the issue of modulating negative causes. One type of negative causability, which I refer to as "causation by absence," appears difficult to incorporate into modern accounts of mechanistic explanation. This paper argues that a recent attempt to resolve this problem, proposed by Benjamin Barros, requires improvement as it overlooks the fact that not all absences qualify as sources of mechanism failure. I suggest that there are a number of additional types (...)
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  • Four Friendly Critics: A Response.Michael S. Moore - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (4):491-542.
    In this reply, I seek to summarize fairly the criticisms advanced by each of my four critics, Jonathan Schaffer, Gideon Yaffe, John Gardner, and Carolina Sartorio. That there is so little overlap either in the aspects of the book on which they focus or in the arguments they advance about those issues has forced me to reply to each of them separately. Schaffer focuses much of his criticisms on my view that absences cannot serve as causal relata and argues that (...)
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  • An Idealist Critique of Naturalism.Robert Smithson - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1 (Online):1-23.
    According to many naturalists, our ordinary conception of the world is in tension with the scientific image: the conception of the world provided by the natural sciences. But in this paper, I present a critique of naturalism with precedents in the Kantian idealist tradition. I argue that, when we consider our actual linguistic behavior, there is no evidence that the truth of our ordinary judgments hinges on what the scientific image turns out to be like. I then argue that the (...)
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  • Causal Truthmaking.Robin Stenwall - 2010 - Metaphysica 11 (2):211-222.
    This paper provides an outline of a theory of causal truthmaking according to which contingent truths are made true by causal facts and dispositional mechanisms. These facts and mechanisms serve to account for the truth of propositions by explaining in a non-epistemic fashion why they have come about as truths. Given that negative causation is allowed for, we are able to provide truthmakers for negative truths without making appeal to negative facts, lacks or absences. The paper takes its starting point (...)
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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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  • Can Determinable Properties Earn Their Keep?Robert Schroer - 2011 - Synthese 183 (2):229-247.
    Sydney Shoemaker's "Subset Account" offers a new take on determinable properties and the realization relation as well as a defense of non-reductive physicalism from the problem of mental causation. At the heart of this account are the claims that (1) mental properties are determinable properties and (2) the causal powers that individuate a determinable property are a proper subset of the causal powers that individuate the determinates of that property. The second claim, however, has led to the accusation that the (...)
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  • How to Evaluate Counterfactuals in the Quantum World.Tomasz Bigaj - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):619-637.
    In the article I discuss possible amendments and corrections to Lewis’s semantics for counterfactuals that are necessary in order to account for the indeterministic and non-local character of the quantum world. I argue that Lewis’s criteria of similarity between possible worlds produce incorrect valuations for alternate-outcome counterfactuals in the EPR case. Later I discuss an alternative semantics which rejects the notion of miraculous events and relies entirely on the comparison of the agreement with respect to individual facts. However, a controversy (...)
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  • Epistemic/Non‐Epistemic Dependence.Nick Zangwill - 2018 - Noûs:836-857.
    I foreground the principle of epistemic dependence. I isolate that relation and distinguish it from other relations and note what it does and does not entail. In particular, I distinguish between dependence and necessitation. This has many interesting consequences. On the negative side, many standard arguments in epistemology are subverted. More positively, once we are liberated from the necessary and sufficient conditions project, many fruitful paths for future epistemological investigation open up. I argue that that not being defeated does not (...)
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  • Causal Reasoning.Christoph Hoerl - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (2):167-179.
    The main focus of this paper is the question as to what it is for an individual to think of her environment in terms of a concept of causation, or causal concepts, in contrast to some more primitive ways in which an individual might pick out or register what are in fact causal phenomena. I show how versions of this question arise in the context of two strands of work on causation, represented by Elizabeth Anscombe and Christopher Hitchcock, respectively. I (...)
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  • Double Prevention and Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2009 - Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3):277-293.
    Does A cause B simply if A prevents what would have prevented B? Such a case is known as double prevention: where we have the prevention of a prevention. One theory of causation is that A causes B when B counterfactually depends on A and, as there is such a dependence, proponents of the view must rule that double prevention is causation.<br><br>However, if double prevention is causation, it means that causation can be an extrinsic matter, that the cause and effect (...)
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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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  • Dispositions, Causes, Persistence As Is, and General Relativity.Joel Katzav - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):41-57.
    I argue that, on a dispositionalist account of causation and indeed on any other view of causation according to which causation is a real relation, general relativity does not give causal principles a role in explaining phenomena. In doing so, I bring out a surprisingly substantial constraint on adequate views about the explanations and ontology of GR, namely the requirement that such views show how GR can explain motion that is free of disturbing influences.
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  • Kim’s Dilemma: Why Mental Causation is Not Productive.Andrew Russo - 2015 - Synthese.
    Barry Loewer (2001, 2002, 2007) has argued that the nonreductive physicalist should respond to the exclusion problem by endorsing the overdetermination entailed by their view. Jaegwon Kim’s (2005, 2007) argument against this reply is based on the premise that mental causation is a productive relation involving the “flow” or “transfer” of some conserved quantity from cause to effect. In this paper, I challenge this premise by appealing to the underlying double prevention structure of the physiological mechanisms of human action. Since (...)
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  • Reconciling Omissions and Causalism.Fabio Bacchini - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (3):627-645.
    If causalism is a complete theory of what it is to behave intentionally, it also has to account for intentional omissions. Carolina Sartorio, 513–530, 2009) has developed a powerful argument, the Causal Exclusion for Omissions, showing that intentional omissions cannot be explained by causalism. A crucial claim in the argument is that there is a causal competition between a mental omission and the mental action performed instead. In this paper I reject the argument by demonstrating that there is no causal (...)
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  • Contrastive Causation in the Law.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Legal Theory 16 (4):259-297.
    What conception of causation is at work in the law? I argue that the law implicitly relies on a contrastive conception. In a liability case where the defendant's breach of duty must be shown to have caused the plaintiff's damages, it is not enough to consider what would have happened if the cause had not occurredthe law requires us to look to a specific replacement for the effect, which in this case is the hypothetical outcome in which the plaintiff came (...)
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  • Aboutness and Negative Truths: A Modest Strategy for Truthmaker Theorists.Arthur Schipper - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3685-3722.
    A central problem for any truthmaker theory is the problem of negative truths. In this paper, I develop a novel, piecemeal strategy for solving this problem. The strategy puts central focus on a truth-relevant notion of aboutness within a metaphysically modest version of truthmaker theory and uses key conceptual tools gained by taking a deeper look at the best attempts to solve the problem of intentionality. I begin this task by critically discussing past proposed solutions to P-NEG in light of (...)
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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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  • The Causal Criterion of Property Identity and the Subtraction of Powers.Sophie C. Gibb - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (1):127-146.
    According to one popular criterion of property identity, where X and Y are properties, X is identical with Y if and only if X and Y bestow the same conditional powers on their bearers. In this paper, I argue that this causal criterion of property identity is unsatisfactory, because it fails to provide a sufficient condition for the identification of properties. My argument for this claim is based on the observation that the summing of properties does not entail the summing (...)
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  • The Twin Towers Riddle.Roy Sorensen - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (1):109-117.
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  • An Idealist Critique of Naturalism.Robert Smithson - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.
    According to many naturalists, our ordinary conception of the world is in tension with the scientific image: the conception of the world provided by the natural sciences. But in this paper, I present a critique of naturalism with precedents in the post-Kantian idealist tradition. I argue that, when we consider our actual linguistic behavior, there is no evidence that the truth of our ordinary judgments hinges on what the scientific image turns out to be like. I then argue that the (...)
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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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  • Processes, Pre-Emption and Further Problems.Andreas Hüttemann - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    In this paper I will argue that what makes our ordinary judgements about token causation (‘actual causation’) true can be explicated in terms of interferences into quasi-inertial processes. These interferences and quasi-inertial processes can in turn be fully explicated in scientific terms. In this sense the account presented here is reductive. I will furthermore argue that this version of a process-theory of causation can deal with the traditional problems that process theories have to face, such as the problem of misconnection (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Lockean Essentialism and the Possibility of Miracles.Nathan Rockwood - 2018 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 56 (2):293-310.
    If the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary, then it appears that miracles are metaphysically impossible. Yet Locke accepts both Essentialism, which takes the laws to be metaphysically necessary, and the possibility of miracles. I argue that the apparent conflict here can be resolved if the laws are by themselves insufficient for guaranteeing the outcome of a particular event. This suggests that, on Locke’s view, the laws of nature entail how an object would behave absent divine intervention. While other views (...)
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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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