Causation_ Determination

Causation_ Determination - Notes on Causation and...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1 Notes on Causation and Determination Richard Johns University of British Columbia These notes are intended to provide you with some useful background ideas, on the topic of freedom and determinism. In order to make any sense of this problem, I think it’s essential to realise that causation and determination are quite different relations. Some philosophers talk as if determination and causation are the same thing. See, for example, Gary Kessler’s definition of determinism, quoted below. Determinism (sometimes called simple determinism in order to distinguish it from other types) refers to the idea that all events are caused. For every event there is a set of conditions such that if the conditions were repeated, the event would recur. Simple determinism implies that the universe and what happens in it is lawful, that is, that the law of causality (or law of cause and effect) governs events. Hence, we can assume that any given event is determined (caused) by some set of antecedent events even if we are not fully aware of what those antecedent events are. This definition seems to take it for granted that, if event A caused event B, then A determined B as well. In other words, a cause always determines its effects . This claim leads to serious philosophical difficulties however, and there is (fortunately) no reason to believe it. We find a similar assumption in our own textbook, p. 388. Louis Pojman defines determinism as follows: Determinism is the theory that everything in the universe (or at least the macroscopic universe) is entirely determined by causal laws, so that whatever happens at any given moment is the effect of some antecedent cause. Specialists in this area, on the other hand, now (almost) all distinguish sharply between the two relations. (See, for example, the start of Carl Hoefer’s entry “Causal Determinism” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .)
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
2 1. Causation and Entailment There is an important difference between efficient causation and logical entailment. Consider, for example, the following two sentences, that both involve the word ‘because’. Charlie is sick because he ate lobster yesterday Charlie is sick, because he is still in bed. The first sentence makes a claim of cause and effect, namely that Charlie’s present sickness was caused by his eating lobster yesterday. Charlie may be allergic to seafood, or perhaps the lobster had sat in the sun for too long and gone bad. The second claim, however, does not concern cause and effect. The speaker doesn’t claim that Charlie’s remaining in bed longer than usual caused him to become sick. Rather, his remaining in bed is evidence for his being sick. From the fact that Charlie remains in bed, at time when he would usually be up and about, we are invited to infer that Charlie is sick. Causing is a physical process that happens in the world, whereas inference is a mental process
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

Page1 / 8

Causation_ Determination - Notes on Causation and...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online