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Causation: Philosophy of Science

Hitchcock, Christopher Read (2006) Causation: Philosophy of Science. In: Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol.Second Ed. MacMillan Reference , Farmington Hills, MI, pp. 103-109. ISBN 9780028660721.

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In The Critique of Pure Reason (first published in 1781), the German philosopher Immanuel Kant maintained that causation was one of the fundamental concepts that rendered the empirical world comprehensible to humans. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, psychology was beginning to show just how pervasive human reasoning concerning cause and effect is. Even young children seem to naturally organize their knowledge of the world according to relations of cause and effect. It is hardly surprising, then, that causation has been a topic of great interest in philosophy, and that many philosophers have attempted to analyze the relationship between cause and effect. Among the more prominent proposals are the following: Causation consists in the instantiation of exceptionless regularities (Hume 1975, 1999; Mill1856; Hempel1965; Mackie 1974); causation is to be understood in terms of relations of probabilistic dependence (Reichenbach 1956, Suppes 1970, Cartwright 1983, Eells 1991); causation is the relation that holds between means and ends (Gasking 1955, von Wright 1975, Woodward 2003); causes are events but for which their effects would not have happened (Lewis 1986); causes and effects are connected by physical processes that are capable of transmitting certain types of properties (Salmon 1984, Dowe 2000). It often happens, however, that advances in science force people to abandon aspects of their common sense picture of the world. For example, Einstein's theories of relativity have forced people to rethink their conceptions of time, space, matter, and energy. What lessons does science teach about the concept of causation?

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:Christopher R. Hitchcock (2005).
Subject Keywords:Causation: philosophy of science ; Causation, Metaphysical Issues; Probability and Chance.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140408-144347431
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44798
Deposited By: Susan Vite
Deposited On:29 Oct 2014 18:13
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 06:22

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