Journal Article

Causality and Dispersion: A Reply to John Norton

Mathias Frisch

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 487-495
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:

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Classical dispersion relations are derived from a time-asymmetric constraint. I argue that the standard causal interpretation of this constraint plays a scientifically legitimate role in dispersion theory, and hence provides a counterexample to the causal skepticism advanced by John Norton and others. Norton ([2009]) argues that the causal interpretation of the time-asymmetric constraint is an empty honorific and that the constraint can be motivated by purely non-causal considerations. In this paper I respond to Norton's criticisms and argue that Norton's skepticism derives its force partly by holding causal principles to a standard too high to be met by other scientifically legitimate constraints.


Non-causal Foundations?

Other Grounds for Skepticism

The Principle of Energy Conservation

Journal Article.  3399 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics