Getting Causes from Powers

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OUP Oxford, Sep 29, 2011 - Philosophy - 254 pages
Causation is everywhere in the world: it features in every science and technology. But how much do we truly understand it? Do we know what it means to say that one thing is a cause of another and do we understand what in the world drives causation? Getting Causes from Powers develops a new and original theory of causation based on an ontology of real powers or dispositions. Others have already suggested that this ought to be possible, but no one has yet performed the detailed work. Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum argue here that the completed theory will not look exactly as anyone has yet anticipated, and that a thoroughly dispositional theory of causation has some surprising features, for instance with respect to modality. The book is not restricted to the metaphysics of causation, but treats a variety of topics such as explanation, perception, modelling, the logic of causal claims, transitivity, and nonlinearity, and the empirical credentials of the theory are tested with reference to biology.
 

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Contents

1 Passing Powers Around
1
2 Modelling Causes as Vectors
19
3 Against Necessity
47
4 Reductionism Holism and Emergence
86
5 Simultaneity
106
6 Explanation Absences and Counterfactuals
130
7 The Logic of Causation
156
8 Primitive Modality
175
9 Perceiving Causes
195
10 A Biologically Disposed Theory of Causation
214
Conclusion of This Book
236
Bibliography
238
Index
249
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About the author (2011)

Stephen Mumford is a Professor of Metaphysics and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Nottingham. He gained his PhD from Leeds in 1994 and then wrote Dispositions (OUP 1998), Laws in Nature (Routledge 2004), and David Armstrong (Acumen 2007), as well as editing Russell onMetaphysics (Routledge 2003) and George Molnar's Powers (OUP 2003). He was co-investigator in the AHRC-funded project Metaphysics of Science and has been Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association. He is currently writing a book on sport: Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotions.Rani Lill Anjum is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Project Leader of 'CauSci - Causation in Science', a 4 year research project funded by the FRIHUM program at the Research Council of Norway (NFR). She received her doctorate from the University of Tromso onthe logic of conditionals, followed by a 3 year postdoctoral project at Tromso and Nottingham on causation and dispositions, both funded by NFR's FRIHUM program.

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