John Heil

in The Universe As We Find It

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596201
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741876 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses the ‘received view’ of causation as a relation among events that is asymmetrical (effects follow causes), nonreflexive (no event can cause itself), transitive (if A causes B, and B causes C, A causes C), and backed by laws. The suggestion is that, although elements of the received view reflect aspects of the phenomenon of causation, it might be beneficial to consider the causal nexus, particular causings. Causings are manifestings of powers or dispositions. Causings are symmetrical and continuous, instances of interactions. Playing cards propped up against one another provide a more representative, less misleading model than do colliding billiard balls. Causing is fully deterministic. Indeterminacy can be introduced into the universe via spontaneous manifestations of certain properties (as in the decay of a radium atom). The causal efficacy of absences is discussed along with talk of preventers, antidotes, blockers, inhibitors, and finks.

Keywords: cause; causing; effect; law; event; interaction; absence; fink; antidote; power; disposition; indeterminacy

Chapter.  6770 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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