Particulars, Facts, and Causal Explanations

Helen Steward

in The Ontology of Mind

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250647
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681318 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs

Particulars, Facts, and Causal Explanations

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This chapter argues that the distinction between particulars and facts is crucial to the understanding of the workings of our causal explanations; and that we need to recognize two rather different varieties of causal statement: ‘singular’ and ‘sentential’. The chapter attempts to explain the difference between the two kinds of explanation, and argues that the idea that token states must be recognized as a variety of causally efficacious particular stems from the existence of a certain class of sentential causal explanations in which the explanans is a stative predication. It is a mistake to think that these explanations have their basis in interactive or productive relationships in which token states figure. Rather, they involve us in commitment to causal relationships between facts and effects of various kinds. There is therefore no need at all to recognize token states as a class of particulars. In so far as the category is legitimate, the entities it subsumes are not particular but rather fact-like, hence the claim that events and states are not close relations but rather species very different from one another.

Keywords: causal explanation; causal statements; causation; singular causal claim; sentential causal claim

Chapter.  14532 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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