Causal Powers and Capacities

Stephen Mumford

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 Powers and Capacities

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A dispositional ontology, admitting a category of power or capacity, is thought by some to offer a vital insight into the nature of causation. Proponents believe that other ontologies lack the metaphysical resources to capture this insight. At its most ambitious, a causal powers ontology purports to offer a solution to, or dissolution of, the problem of causation. The argument is that the traditional problem of causation is generated by a faulty Humean ontology in which the world is described as a sum of ‘loose and separate’ distinct existences. Once the main Humean premise is accepted, of there being no necessary connections between distinct existences, then the notion of causation becomes immediately problematic.

Keywords: dispositional ontology; causal power; causal capacities; nature of causation; Humean ontology; metaphysical resources

Article.  6310 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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