Journal Article

Is There an Independent Principle of Causality in Physics?

John D. Norton

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 475-486
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Is There an Independent Principle of Causality in Physics?

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Mathias Frisch has argued that the requirement that electromagnetic dispersion processes are causal adds empirical content not found in electrodynamic theory. I urge that this attempt to reconstitute a local principle of causality in physics fails. An independent principle is not needed to recover the results of dispersion theory. The use of ‘causality conditions’ proves to be the mere adding of causal labels to an already presumed fact. If instead one seeks a broader, independently formulated grounding for the conditions, that grounding either fails or dissolves into vagueness and ambiguity, as has traditionally been the fate of candidate principles of causality.


Scattering in Classical Electrodynamics

Sufficiency of the Physics

Failure of the Principle of Causality Proposed 4.1

A sometimes principle


The conditions of applicability are obscure


Effects can come before their causes


Vagueness of the relata and of the notion of causal process


Journal Article.  5126 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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