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A Variety of Causes

A Variety of Causes

by Paul Noordhof


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This is the first book length defence of a counterfactual theory of causation. The analysis defended is new. It expresses the idea that, independent of its competitors, a cause raises the chance of an effect over its mean background chance by a complete causal chain. The analysis depends upon a novel development of David Lewis's Theory of Counterfactuals. One consequence of the analysis is that causation is not transitive. Causation is also nonsymmetric. The counterfactual basis of causal nonsymmetry is the result of a number of different, and sometimes interacting, nonsymmetries. The analysis allows for the development of a novel theory of events whose nature is independent of their role in causation and the identification of one other important causal relationship: property causation. Although compatible with Hume's denial of necessary connections between distinct existences, a key feature of the theory is that it benefits from being independent of the Humean framework. There are two ways in which something may be metaphysically fundamental: vertically and horizontally. Many metaphysicians emphasise vertical fundamentality and focus on truth making. The book rejects this emphasis and the truth making approach in particular. Horizontally fundamental metaphysical entities are those that are necessary components in different possible universes. Causation has a claim to be horizontally fundamental: the cement of any universe. Laws are patterns of causation realised in different metaphysical frameworks such as those articulated by Lewis, Armstrong and the powers ontologists. The book recognises varieties of causation both in, for example, counting cases of double prevention and causation by genuine processes as types of causation, and allowing that the analysis identifies causes across these different metaphysical frameworks.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199251469
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Pages: 592
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Paul Noordhof, Anniversary Professor of Philosophy, University of York

Paul Noordhof is Anniversary Professor of Philosophy at the University of York, having previously been a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He was an Associate Editor of Mind from 1991-2015, and its Reviews Editor from 2000-2015. He has published in Analysis, British Journal
for the Philosophy Science, Mind, Mind and Language, Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research on topics in belief, causation, emergence, imagination, perceptual content and self-deception. He had a Research Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge from
1992-1994, and a Major Leverhulme Research Fellowship from 2006-2009. He has co-edited books on Causation and Art and Belief for Routledge and OUP.

Table of Contents

1. The Analysis of Causation
2. Humean Supervenience and the Possibility of Necessitation
3. Counterfactuals and Closeness
4. A Counterfactual Analysis of Causation
5. The Nontransitivity of Causation
6. Causal Circumstances
7. The Ontological Categories of Causes
8. Negative Causation and the Relationality of Causation
9. Property Causation
10. Non-Causal Counterfactual Dependence and Intrinsicality
11. Processes and Prevention
12. Causal nonsymmetry
13. Agency, Intervention, and the Past
14. Causation and Laws
15. The Ontoloty of Chance
16. Humean Supervenience and Possible Worlds

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