Dissertation, University of Campinas, Brazil (2018
I present Aristotle’s theory of causation in a way that privileges a comparison with
contemporary discussion on causation. I do so by selecting in Aristotle’s theory points that are
interesting to contemporary discussion and by translating Aristotle in the contemporary
philosophical terminology. I compare Aristotle’s views with Mackie’s (1993/1965) and Sosa’s
(1993/1980). Mackie is a humean regularist regarding the metaphysics of causal necessity, but his theory postulates some formal aspects of the causal relation which are similar to the Aristotelian theory. By introducing the notion of causal field as a third causal relatum – a sample in which the cause must be picked out as a explanation coextensive to the effect –, Mackie holds a point very similar to Aristotle, inasmuch as both defend that the causal relation is triadic and both have the extensional desideratum. Sosa (1993/1980) defends that every cause necessitates its effect, arguing against classical Humeanism, and he also proposes a causal pluralism. Both these theses are clearly Aristotelian. Aristotle comprehends that the causal relation has three relata: a subjacent C, a property of that subjacent A and a cause B that explains why such property is attributed to that subjacent. The subjacent is similar to Mackie’s notion of causal field, for in regard to it the cause must be coextensive to the property. But Aristotle also says that for each explanandum (property attributed to a subjacent of which one aims to investigate a cause) there is only one cause, which necessitates it. Sosa and Aristotle are similar because both develop a causal pluralism from a theory of causes as having intrinsic necessitation. For Aristotle, causes/explanations [aitiai] are central for attaining scientific knowledge, and its triadic structure determines the syllogistic structure of scientific demonstrations. Aristotle’s theory of causation also involves comprehending the
actualisation of capacities (dispositional properties of objects) affirming that the causal relation is resultant from intrinsic properties of the objects, and the cause B is the essence of the explanandum.