Chapter

Modelling Causes as Vectors

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/9780199695614.003.0002
Modelling Causes as Vectors

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The way we represent a phenomenon may influence the way we think about it. Neuron diagrams seem particularly suited to a Humean metaphysics of discrete, distinct existences. We want a way of representing powers as causes and a model that reflects the complexity of causal situations. This chapter proposes to model causes as vectors within a quality space. The chapter uses vectors because they have a direction, as powers do, and an intensity, which we argue powers also have. Powers can dispose towards outcomes in varying degrees. A further idea that we could make use of is vector addition, which could give us a model for the composition of causes. The model shows us how multiple powers can combine together to produce an effect. It also allows the chapter to explain the special case of causation where nothing is happening (equilibrium cases). The position accepts the reality of component powers and could be extended to multi-dimensional cases where change is caused in more than one quality space.

Keywords: vectors; neuron diagrams; quality space; components; intensity; dimensions

Chapter.  10454 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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