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Proportionality and the Metaphysics of Causation

Maslen, Cei (2009) Proportionality and the Metaphysics of Causation. In: [2009] Metaphysics of Science (Melbourne, July 2-5, 2009).

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    Abstract

    This paper reexamines the case for a proportionality constraint on causation. The general idea behind the proportionality constraint is that causes need the right amount of detail. The cause needs to be detailed enough to be sufficient for the effect yet general enough to be fully relevant to the effect. The case for the proportionality constraint mainly rests on some examples. Suppose we are searching for the cause of an injury: “being hit by a red bus” is too detailed, “being hit” isn't detailed enough, but “being hit by a bus” is about right. This sort of example has undeniable intuitive appeal. However, this intuitive appeal needs to be examined with more care before jumping to conclusions about the metaphysics of causation and the mereology of causal relata. Here, I reexamine the case for a proportionality constraint on causation and compare several pragmatic explanations of our intuitions about Yablo’s examples, in particular a pragmatic explanation that notices the loose use in our naming of causal relata and a pragmatic explanation that appeals to a contrastivist account of causation.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: contrastivism causation proportionality
    Subjects: General Issues > Causation
    Conferences and Volumes: [2009] Metaphysics of Science (Melbourne, July 2-5, 2009)
    Depositing User: Cei Maslen
    Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:18
    Item ID: 4852
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4852

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