Causes, Laws, and Ontology

Michael Tooley

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

Causes, Laws, and Ontology

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Different approaches to causation often diverge very significantly on ontological issues, in the case of both causal laws, and causal relations between states of affairs. This article sets out the main alternatives with regard to each. Causal concepts have surely been present from the time that language began, since the vast majority of action verbs involve the idea of causally affecting something. Thus, in the case of transitive verbs describing physical actions, there is the idea of causally affecting something external to one — one finds food, builds a shelter, sows seed, catches fish, and so on — while in the case of intransitive verbs describing physical actions, it is very plausible that they involve the idea of causally affecting one's own body — as one walks, runs, jumps, hunts, and so on.

Keywords: causal laws; ontology; causal relations; causal concepts; physical actions; transitive verbs; intransitive verbs

Article.  8034 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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