University of Tasmania
whole_ForrestPeter1979_thesis.pdf (11.35 MB)

The metaphysics of causation : causation, conditionals and regularities.

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:47 authored by Forrest, Peter, 1948-
In this thesis I am concerned not with immanent causation, but with transeunt causation. In the Introduction I show how the Conditional Analysis and the Regularity Account of causation can be used to defend Causal Anti-realism and to supplement the Manipulability Account. I also mention three theses about Metaphysics which my discussion of causation illustrates. In Chapter One, I discuss some preliminaries. In Section One, I consider the method to be used for testing the permissibility of accounts of causation. I provide a stricter and a less strict criterion: the Analysis-criterion and the Reduction-criterion. The former is used in Chapter Two, the latter is used in Chapter Three. In Section Two, I argue for a distinction between two kinds of transeunt causation : explanatory and producing causation. I concentrate on producing causation in this thesis. I also argue that the class of particulars which can be producing causes - I call this the class of quasi-events - is larger than the class of events. Quasi-events are defined in terms of the notion of a causal field, which I discuss and defend. In Section Three, I briefly expound the kinds of conditional required for the Conditional Analysis. Chapter Two has two parts. In Part One, I defend the Conditional Analysis of causation. I begin with Mackie's account in The Cement of the Universe and I successively modify this account to meet various objections. The objections considered include the problems raised by collateral effects, overdetermination and simultaneous causation. I also briefly consider Lewis' account of causation. In Part Two, I discuss what account might be given of the conditionals used in the Conditional Analysis. I conclude that these conditionals should be treated as meta-inference conditionals based on a special kind of non-deductive inference. Chapter Three also has two parts. In Fart One, I defend the possibility of a regularity account, provided it is to satisfy only the Reduction-criterion. In Part Two, I provide a regularity account based on Mackie's account of causal regularities in The Cement of the Universe. Objections similar to those of Chapter Two are discussed. Finally, in Chapter Four, I discuss backwards causation, which I ignore in Chapters Two and Three. I argue that a causal anti-realist can quite rationally hold the position that backwards causation is logically possible but metaphysically impossible. More precisely, there are no coherent examples, described in non-causal terms, which a causal anti-realist need interpret as cases of backwards causation.


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The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1979. Bibliography: l. 228-230

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