Presentism and Causal Processes

Argumenta 4 (1):159-176 (2018)
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Presentism is the view that only present temporal entities (tenselessly) exist. A widely-discussed problem for presentism concerns causation and, more specifically, the supposed cross-temporally relational character of it. I think that the best reply to this problem can already be found in the literature on temporal ontology: it consists, roughly, in showing that (at least) some of the main approaches to causation can be rephrased so as to avoid commitment to any cross-temporal relation, including the causal relation itself. The main purpose of this paper is to extend this reply to the process view, an approach to causation that has not been considered within this debate until now. I shall do this by taking into account Dowe’s conserved quantity theory—a recent and prominent theory of this sort— and employing it as a proxy for the other major process theories of causation. In dealing with Dowe’s process theory of causation, however, two additional problems must be faced: one concerns the four-dimensional spacetime framework on which its formulation relies; the other concerns the very notion of causal process (and the companion notion of causal interaction). While the presentistic account of Dowe’s theory (and, virtually, of the process view of causation in general) put forth in this paper is intended primarily as a contribution to the mentioned paraphrase- based enterprise of reconciliation between presentism and causation, I shall also offer some reasons for presentists to prefer the process view of causation to the other views of causation that have already been reconciled with presentism.

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Ernesto Graziani
Università di Macerata


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