Chapter

Passing Powers Around

Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum

in Getting Causes from Powers

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695614
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731952 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695614.003.0001
Passing Powers Around

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There is a close connection between the properties of a thing and its role in causation. This chapter explains this by accepting the view that properties are clusters of powers and thus that it is the powerful properties of a thing, event or fact that enable it to participate in causation. This enables the chapter to base a theory of causation on the ontology of powers but does not offer it as a reductive analysis. The notions of power and cause are too close for that. The chapter thinks it important to revive Mill’s notion of total cause because this allows us to understand causation as complex and context-sensitive. Both particular and general causal truths will be about the operation or exercise of powers. It is known that some recommend the elimination of the notion of cause, accepting that the world of microphysics has dispensed with it. The chapter thinks that is premature and buys into a reductionism for which we see no conclusive argument. Causation could be a macroscopic feature of the world even if it disappears below a certain level of reality.

Keywords: power; disposition; cause; reduction; complexity

Chapter.  7962 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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