Causal Process Theories

Phil Dowe

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191577246 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Causal Process Theories

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If the core idea of process theories of causation is that causation can be understood in terms of causal processes and interactions, then the approach should be attributed primarily to Wesley Salmon (1925–2001). Salmon takes causal processes and interactions as more fundamental than causal relations between events. To express this Salmon liked to quote John Venn: ‘Substitute for the time honoured “chain of causation”, so often introduced into discussions upon this subject, the phrase a “rope of causation”, and see what a very different aspect the question will wear’. According to the process theory, any facts about causation as a relation between events obtain only on account of more basic facts about causal processes and interactions. Causal processes are the world-lines of objects, exhibiting some characteristic essential for causation.

Keywords: process theories of causation; causal process; causal interaction; Wesley Salmon; causal relations; chain of causation

Article.  9252 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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