Causation and Explanation (Central Problems of Philosophy) by Stathis Psillos

By Stathis Psillos

Within the part on legislation of nature, Psillos considers either the regularity view of legislation and legislation as kin between universals in addition to replacement ways to legislation. within the ultimate part on clarification he examines intimately the problems bobbing up from deductive-nomological clarification and statistical rationalization sooner than contemplating the reason of legislation and the metaphysics of clarification. obtainable to scholars of all degrees the writer offers a very good creation to at least one of the main enduring difficulties of philosophy.

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The reason why constant conjunction is important (even though it cannot directly account for the idea of necessary connection by means of an impression) is that it is the source of the inference we make from causes to effects. So, looking more carefully at this inference might cast some new light on what exactly is involved when we call a sequence of events causal. As Hume put it: “Perhaps ’twill appear in the end, that the necessary connexion depends on the inference, instead of the inference’s depending on the necessary connexion” (T: 88).

2 The AP property Mackie’s second complaint against Hume is precisely that there are good arguments to defend the view that a past constant conjunction between Cs and Es is reason enough to make the belief in their future constant conjunction reasonable, provided that we allow for reasonable probabilistic inferences. Let’s, following Strawson (1989: 111), call “AP property” a property such that if it could be detected in a causal sequence, it would bring with it “the possibility of making a priori certain causal inferences”.

It says: “like objects have always been plac’d in like relations of contiguity and succession” (T: 88). So ascriptions (“pronouncements”) of causation cannot be made of single sequences: we first need to see whether a certain sequence instantiates a constant conjunction. Does that simply mean that a sequence is causal (if and) only if it instantiates a constant conjunction among the relevant event types? There is no straightforward answer to this question – at least, not yet. Hume has been describing the inferential procedure by which we move from causes to effects and has noted that this procedure is activated when (and only when) constant conjunction is present (has been observed).

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