Chapter

An “At‐At” Theory of Causal Influence

Wesley C. Salmon

in Causality and Explanation

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195108644
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833627 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195108647.003.0013
An “At‐At” Theory of Causal Influence

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The propagation of causal influences through space‐time plays a fundamental role in scientific explanation. Taking as point of departure, a basic distinction between causal interactions (which are localized in space‐time) and causal processes (which may extend through vast regions of space‐time), this chapter attempts an analysis of the concept of causal propagation on the basis of the ability of causal processes to transmit “marks.” The analysis rests upon the “at–at” theory of motion that has figured prominently in the resolution of Zeno's arrow paradox. It is argued that this explication does justice to the idea that causal processes can transmit causal influence without invoking anti‐Humean “powers” or “necessary connections.” Although at the time this essay was first written, the author treated causal processes in terms of capacity to transmit marks, the basic concept of transmission works equally well in the conserved quantities theory introduced in Ch. 16.

Keywords: causal interaction; causal process; Hume; transmission; Zeno's paradox

Chapter.  4079 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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