Is Powerful Causation an Internal Relation?

In Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (eds.), The Metaphysics of Relations. Oxford University Press. pp. 138-156 (2016)
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In this paper I consider whether a powers ontology facilitates a reduction of causal relations to intrinsic powers of the causal relata. I first argue that there is a tension in the view that powerful causation is an internal relation in this sense. Powers are ontologically dependent on other powers for their individuation, but in that case—given an Aristotelian conception of properties as immanent universals—powers will not be intrinsic on several extant analyses of ‘intrinsic’, since to possess a given power P requires the existence of other concrete particulars as bearers of the powers that individuate P. I suggest several ways for Aristotelians to resolve this tension, but all tenable options involve individuative type-level causal relations between powers. While these individuative relations between powers are internal in the sense that the powers are essentially related, this is a different sense of ‘ internal ’ to the one that entails reducibility. The proposed reduction of token-causal relations to powers succeeds only at the cost of irreducible type-level causal relations between the powers themselves.

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David Yates
Universidade de Lisboa


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