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Metaphysical Causation

Noûs:723-751 (2018)

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  1. Causality Without Counterfactuals.Wesley C. Salmon - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (2):297-312.
    This paper presents a drastically revised version of the theory of causality, based on analyses of causal processes and causal interactions, advocated in Salmon (1984). Relying heavily on modified versions of proposals by P. Dowe, this article answers penetrating objections by Dowe and P. Kitcher to the earlier theory. It shows how the new theory circumvents a host of difficulties that have been raised in the literature. The result is, I hope, a more satisfactory analysis of physical causality.
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  • Wesley Salmon's Process Theory of Causality and the Conserved Quantity Theory.Phil Dowe - 1992 - Philosophy of Science 59 (2):195-216.
    This paper examines Wesley Salmon's "process" theory of causality, arguing in particular that there are four areas of inadequacy. These are that the theory is circular, that it is too vague at a crucial point, that statistical forks do not serve their intended purpose, and that Salmon has not adequately demonstrated that the theory avoids Hume's strictures about "hidden powers". A new theory is suggested, based on "conserved quantities", which fulfills Salmon's broad objectives, and which avoids the problems discussed.
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  • Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow.David K. Lewis - 1979 - Noûs 13 (4):455-476.
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  • Causality and Properties.Sydney Shoemaker - 1980 - In Peter van Inwagen (ed.), Time and Cause. D. Reidel. pp. 109-35.
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  • Void and Object.David K. Lewis - 2004 - In John Collins, Ned Hall & L. A. Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press. pp. 277-290.
    The void is deadly. If you were cast into a void, it would cause you to die in just a few minutes. It would suck the air from your lungs. It would boil your blood. It would drain the warmth from your body. And it would inflate enclosures in your body until they burst}.
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  • Many, but Almost One.David K. Lewis - 1993 - In Keith Cambell, John Bacon & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays on the Philosophy of D. M. Armstrong. Cambridge University Press. pp. 23-38.
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  • Causation.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
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  • Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
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  • Metaphysical Interdependence.Naomi Thompson - 2016 - In Mark Jago (ed.), Reality Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 38-56.
    It is commonly assumed that grounding relations are asymmetric. Here I develop and argue for a theory of metaphysical structure that takes grounding to be nonsymmetric rather than asymmetric. Even without infinite descending chains of dependence, it might be that every entity is grounded in some other entity. Having first addressed an immediate objection to the position under discussion, I introduce two examples of symmetric grounding. I give three arguments for the view that grounding is nonsymmetric (I call this view (...)
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  • Illusions of Gunk.J. Robert G. Williams - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):493–513.
    Worlds where things divide forever ("gunk" worlds) are apparently conceivable. The conceivability of such scenarios has been used as an argument against "nihilist" or "near-nihilist" answers to the special composition question. I argue that the mereological nihilist has the resources to explain away the illusion that gunk is possible.
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  • Counterfactuals and Causation: History, Problems, and Prospects.John Collins, Ned Hall & L. A. Paul - 2004 - In John Collins, Ned Hall & Laurie Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press. pp. 1--57.
    Among the many philosophers who hold that causal facts1 are to be explained in terms of—or more ambitiously, shown to reduce to—facts about what happens, together with facts about the fundamental laws that govern what happens, the clear favorite is an approach that sees counterfactual dependence as the key to such explanation or reduction. The paradigm examples of causation, so advocates of this approach tell us, are examples in which events c and e— the cause and its effect— both occur, (...)
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  • Are There Non-Causal Explanations (of Particular Events)?Brdford Skow - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axs047.
    Philosophers have proposed many alleged examples of non-causal explanations of particular events. I discuss several well-known examples and argue that they fail to be non-causal. 1 Questions2 Preliminaries3 Explanations That Cite Causally Inert Entities4 Explanations That Merely Cite Laws I5 Stellar Collapse6 Explanations That Merely Cite Laws II7 A Final Example8 Conclusion.
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  • Causation: One Word, Many Things.Nancy Cartwright - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):805-819.
    We currently have on offer a variety of different theories of causation. Many are strikingly good, providing detailed and plausible treatments of exemplary cases; and all suffer from clear counterexamples. I argue that, contra Hume and Kant, this is because causation is not a single, monolithic concept. There are different kinds of causal relations imbedded in different kinds of systems, readily described using thick causal concepts. Our causal theories pick out important and useful structures that fit some familiar cases—cases we (...)
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  • Of Humean Bondage.Christopher Hitchcock - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (1):1-25.
    There are many ways of attaching two objects together: for example, they can be connected, linked, tied or bound together; and the connection, link, tie or bind can be made of chain, rope, or cement. Every one of these binding methods has been used as a metaphor for causation. What is the real significance of these metaphors? They express a commitment to a certain way of thinking about causation, summarized in the following thesis: ‘In any concrete situation, there is an (...)
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  • Nonreductive Physicalism and the Limits of the Exclusion Principle.Christian List & Peter Menzies - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (9):475-502.
    It is often argued that higher-level special-science properties cannot be causally efficacious since the lower-level physical properties on which they supervene are doing all the causal work. This claim is usually derived from an exclusion principle stating that if a higherlevel property F supervenes on a physical property F* that is causally sufficient for a property G, then F cannot cause G. We employ an account of causation as differencemaking to show that the truth or falsity of this principle is (...)
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  • Contrastive Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.
    Causation is widely assumed to be a binary relation: c causes e. I will argue that causation is a quaternary, contrastive relation: c rather than C* causes e rather than E*, where C* and E* are nonempty sets of contrast events. Or at least, I will argue that treating causation as contrastive helps resolve some paradoxes.
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  • Two Conceptions of Sparse Properties.Schaffer Jonathan - 2004 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (1):92–102.
    Are the sparse properties drawn from all the levels of nature, or only the fundamental level? I discuss the notion of sparse property found in Armstrong and Lewis, show that there are tensions in the roles they have assigned the sparse properties, and argue that the sparse properties should be drawn from all the levels of nature.
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  • Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
    Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
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  • Impossible Worlds: A Modest Approach.Daniel Nolan - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):535-572.
    Reasoning about situations we take to be impossible is useful for a variety of theoretical purposes. Furthermore, using a device of impossible worlds when reasoning about the impossible is useful in the same sorts of ways that the device of possible worlds is useful when reasoning about the possible. This paper discusses some of the uses of impossible worlds and argues that commitment to them can and should be had without great metaphysical or logical cost. The paper then provides an (...)
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  • Counterfactuals.D. Lewis - 1973 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 27 (4):403-405.
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  • Interventionist Counterfactuals.Rachael Briggs - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):139-166.
    A number of recent authors (Galles and Pearl, Found Sci 3 (1):151–182, 1998; Hiddleston, Noûs 39 (4):232–257, 2005; Halpern, J Artif Intell Res 12:317–337, 2000) advocate a causal modeling semantics for counterfactuals. But the precise logical significance of the causal modeling semantics remains murky. Particularly important, yet particularly under-explored, is its relationship to the similarity-based semantics for counterfactuals developed by Lewis (Counterfactuals. Harvard University Press, 1973b). The causal modeling semantics is both an account of the truth conditions of counterfactuals, and (...)
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  • A Counterfactual Account of Essence.Berit Brogaard & Joe Salerno - 2007 - The Reasoner.
    Kit Fine (1994. “Essence and Modality”, Philosophical Perspectives 8: 1-16) argues that the standard modal account of essence as de re modality is ‘fundamentally misguided’ (p. 3). We agree with his critique and suggest an alternative counterfactual analysis of essence. As a corollary, our counterfactual account lends support to non-vacuism the thesis that counterpossibles (i.e., counterfactual conditionals with impossible antecedents) are not always vacuously true.
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  • Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable and How, Just Maybe, to Tract It.Karen Bennett - 2003 - Noûs 37 (3):471-97.
    The basic form of the exclusion problem is by now very, very familiar. 2 Start with the claim that the physical realm is causally complete: every physical thing that happens has a sufficient physical cause. Add in the claim that the mental and the physical are distinct. Toss in some claims about overdetermination, give it a stir, and voilá—suddenly it looks as though the mental never causes anything, at least nothing physical. As it is often put, the physical does all (...)
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  • Relative Necessity Reformulated.Bob Hale & Jessica Leech - 2017 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 46 (1):1-26.
    This paper discusses some serious difficulties for what we shall call the standard account of various kinds of relative necessity, according to which any given kind of relative necessity may be defined by a strict conditional - necessarily, if C then p - where C is a suitable constant proposition, such as a conjunction of physical laws. We argue, with the help of Humberstone, that the standard account has several unpalatable consequences. We argue that Humberstone’s alternative account has certain disadvantages, (...)
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  • Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
    Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and show that grounding (...)
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  • Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Ronald N. Giere & Wesley C. Salmon - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (3):444.
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  • On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (2):333-352.
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  • Fiction and Metaphysics.Amie L. Thomasson - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (207):282-284.
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  • Propositional Objects.W. V. Quine - 1968 - Critica 2 (5):3.
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  • Statistical Mechanics and the Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence.Adam Elga - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):313-324.
    In "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow", David Lewis defends an analysis of counterfactuals intended to yield the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence: that later affairs depend counterfactually on earlier ones, and not the other way around. I argue that careful attention to the dynamical properties of thermodynamically irreversible processes shows that in many ordinary cases, Lewis's analysis fails to yield this asymmetry. Furthermore, the analysis fails in an instructive way: it teaches us something about the connection between the asymmetry of overdetermination (...)
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  • The No-No Paradox Is a Paradox.Roy T. Cook - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):467-482.
    The No-No Paradox consists of a pair of statements, each of which ?says? the other is false. Roy Sorensen claims that the No-No Paradox provides an example of a true statement that has no truthmaker: Given the relevant instances of the T-schema, one of the two statements comprising the ?paradox? must be true (and the other false), but symmetry constraints prevent us from determining which, and thus prevent there being a truthmaker grounding the relevant assignment of truth values. Sorensen's view (...)
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  • Towards Non-Being: The Logic and Metaphysics of Intentionality.Graham Priest - 2005 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 14 (1):116-118.
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  • The Question of Realism.Kit Fine - 2001 - Philosophers' Imprint 1:1-30.
    This paper distinguishes two kinds of realist issue -- the issue of whether the propositions of a given domain are factual and the issue of whether they are fundamental. It criticizes previous accounts of what these issues come to and suggests that they are to be understood in terms of a basic metaphysical concept of reality. This leaves open the question of how such issues are to be resolved; and it is argued that this may be done through consideration of (...)
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  • Maximality and Intrinsic Properties.Theodore Sider - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):357 - 364.
    A property, F, is maximal iff, roughly, large parts of an F are not themselves Fs.' Maximality makes trouble for a recent analysis of intrinsicality by Rae Langton and David Lewis.
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  • Are There Non-Causal Explanations ?Brdford Skow - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):445-467.
    Philosophers have proposed many alleged examples of non-causal explana- tions of particular events. I discuss several well-known examples and argue that they fail to be non-causal.
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  • Where’s the Biff?Toby Handfield, Charles R. Twardy, Kevin B. Korb & Graham Oppy - 2008 - Erkenntnis 68 (2):149-68.
    This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other cases (...)
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  • Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
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  • The Unity and Priority Arguments for Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Basinstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 171-204.
    Grounding, understood as a primitive posit operative in contexts where metaphysical dependence is at issue, is not able on its own to do any substantive work in characterizing or illuminating metaphysical dependence---or so I argue in 'No Work for a Theory of Grounding' (Inquiry, 2014). Such illumination rather requires appeal to specific metaphysical relations---type or token identity, functional realization, the determinable-determinate relation, the mereological part-whole relation, and so on---of the sort typically at issue in these contexts. In that case, why (...)
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  • No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
    It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation— ‘Grounding’—is ultimately at issue in contexts in which some goings-on are said to hold ‘in virtue of’’, be ‘metaphysically dependent on’, or be ‘nothing over and above’ some others. Grounding is supposed to do good work in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, Grounding alone cannot do this work, for bare claims of Grounding leave open such basic questions as whether (...)
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  • Causality Reunified.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):299-320.
    Hall has recently argued that there are two concepts of causality, picking out two different kinds of causal relation. McGrath, and Hitchcock and Knobe, have recently argued that the facts about causality depend on what counts as a “default” or “normal” state, or even on the moral facts. In the light of these claims you might be tempted to agree with Skyrms that causal relations constitute, metaphysically speaking, an “amiable jumble”, or with Cartwright that ‘causation’, though a single word, encompasses (...)
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  • Construction Area (No Hard Hat Required).Karen Bennett - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (1):79-104.
    A variety of relations widely invoked by philosophers—composition, constitution, realization, micro-basing, emergence, and many others—are species of what I call ‘building relations’. I argue that they are conceptually intertwined, articulate what it takes for a relation to count as a building relation, and argue that—contra appearances—it is an open possibility that these relations are all determinates of a common determinable, or even that there is really only one building relation.
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  • Schaffer on Laws of Nature.Alastair Wilson - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (3):653-667.
    In ‘Quiddistic Knowledge’ (Schaffer in Philos Stud 123:1–32, 2005), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism—the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds—can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer’s objections. It also has certain (...)
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  • Causation and the Canberra Plan.David Liebesman - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (2):232-242.
    David Lewis has a general recipe for analysis: the Canberra Plan. His analyses of mind, color, and value all proceed according to the plan. What is curious is that his analysis of causation – one of his seminal analyses – doesn't. It doesn't and according to Lewis it can't. Lewis has two objections against using the Canberra Plan to analyze causation. After presenting Lewis' objections I argue that they both fail. I then draw some lessons from their failure.
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  • On Empirically Equivalent Systems of the World.Willard V. Quine - 1975 - Erkenntnis 9 (3):313-28.
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  • An Extended Lewis-Stalnaker Semantics and The New Problem of Counterpossibles.Jeffrey Goodman - 2004 - Philosophical Papers 33 (1):35-66.
    Closest-possible-world analyses of counterfactuals suffer from what has been called the ‘problem of counterpossibles’: some counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents seem plainly false, but the proposed analyses imply that they are all (vacuously) true. One alleged solution to this problem is the addition of impossible worlds. In this paper, I argue that the closest possible or impossible world analyses that have recently been suggested suffer from the ‘new problem of counterpossibles’: the proposed analyses imply that some plainly true counterpossibles (viz., (...)
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  • Probability, Explanation, and Information.Peter Railton - 1981 - Synthese 48 (2):233 - 256.
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  • Causal and Metaphysical Necessity.Sydney Shoemaker - 1998 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (1):59–77.
    Any property has two sorts of causal features: “forward-looking” ones, having to do with what its instantiation can contribute to causing, and ldquo;backward-looking” ones, having to do with how its instantiation can be caused. Such features of a property are essential to it, and properties sharing all of their causal features are identical. Causal necessity is thus a special case of metaphysical necessity. Appeals to imaginability have no more force against this view than they do against the Kripkean view that (...)
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  • Interventionism and Causal Exclusion.James Woodward - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):303-347.
    A number of writers, myself included, have recently argued that an “interventionist” treatment of causation of the sort defended in Woodward, 2003 can be used to cast light on so-called “causal exclusion” arguments. This interventionist treatment of causal exclusion has in turn been criticized by other philosophers. This paper responds to these criticisms. It describes an interventionist framework for thinking about causal relationships when supervenience relations are present. I contend that this framework helps us to see that standard arguments for (...)
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  • Causation and the Flow of Energy.David Fair - 1979 - Erkenntnis 14 (3):219 - 250.
    Causation has traditionally been analyzed either as a relation of nomic dependence or as a relation of counterfactual dependence. I argue for a third program, a physicalistic reduction of the causal relation to one of energy-momentum transference in the technical sense of physics. This physicalistic analysis is argued to have the virtues of easily handling the standard counterexamples to the nomic and counterfactual analyses, offering a plausible epistemology for our knowledge of causes, and elucidating the nature of the relation between (...)
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  • Critical Notice.Review author[S.]: Kit Fine - 1975 - Mind 84 (335):451-458.
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