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Disturbances in the Ether

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posted on 10.11.2021, 07:47 by Smith, Tony Rex

We criticise the current philosophical practice of invoking causation as a solution to various problems in various fields of philosophy. Our specific concern is that many of these solutions to problems rely on the intuition that causation is "the cement of the universe". We question whether several different analyses of causation which are supposed to substantiate this intuition (or at least are treated as if they substantiate this intuition) in fact substantiate this intuition. We begin by establishing a basic desideratum for such an analysis of causation - that causal dependence ought to track physical dependence in this universe. We investigate in turn a Lewis-style counterfactual analysis of causation, the transference analysis developed by Aronson, Fair and Heathcote, and the process analyses developed by Salmon and Dowe. Rather to our surprise, none of the analyses fulfil our basic desideratum. Although this is not in itself conclusive grounds for scepticism about causation, our results speak against casually invoking analyses of causation in order to solve particular varieties of philosophical problems.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Perszyk, Ken