Mary Shepherd's Metaphysics of Emergence

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Shepherd begins her 1824 Essay upon the Relation of Cause and Effect (ERCE) by arguing for the Causal Maxim: that every beginning of existence requires a cause. She then derives a variety of metaphysical commitments from this: there can be no difference in effects without a difference in their causes; cause and effect are necessarily synchronic; causation requires a union of previous existents; and several others. There is not yet an interpretation of Shepherd’s metaphysics that explains the exact logical connections between these seemingly disparate theses. We can make progress on a systematic understanding of Shepherd’s metaphysical system by considering her concept of cause as a species of the recent concept of metaphysical emergence. I argue that five distinct metaphysical theses in ERCE follow from the Causal Maxim on an emergentist conception of cause, providing a concrete model for a systematic reading of her metaphysics.
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First archival date: 2021-08-30
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