Causation and its Basis in Fundamental Physics

Hardcover | September 18, 2013

byDouglas Kutach

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This book is the first comprehensive attempt to solve what Hartry Field has called "the central problem in the metaphysics of causation": the problem of reconciling the need for causal notions in the special sciences with the limited role of causation in physics. If the world evolvesfundamentally according to laws of physics, what place can be found for the causal regularities and principles identified by the special sciences? Douglas Kutach answers this question by invoking a novel distinction between fundamental and derivative reality and a complementary conception ofreduction. He then constructs a framework that allows all causal regularities from the sciences to be rendered in terms of fundamental relations. By drawing on a methodology that focuses on explaining the results of specially crafted experiments, Kutach avoids the endless task of catering topre-theoretical judgments about causal scenarios.This volume is a detailed case study that uses fundamental physics to elucidate causation, but technicalities are eschewed so that a wide range of philosophers can profit. The book is packed with innovations: new models of events, probability, counterfactual dependence, influence, and determinism.These lead to surprising implications for topics like Newcomb's paradox, action at a distance, Simpson's paradox, and more. Kutach explores the special connection between causation and time, ultimately providing a never-before-presented explanation for the direction of causation. Along the way,readers will discover that events cause themselves, that low barometer readings do cause thunderstorms after all, and that we humans routinely affect the past more than we affect the future.

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This book is the first comprehensive attempt to solve what Hartry Field has called "the central problem in the metaphysics of causation": the problem of reconciling the need for causal notions in the special sciences with the limited role of causation in physics. If the world evolvesfundamentally according to laws of physics, what plac...

Douglas Kutach is a philosopher of physics who has published on time's arrows, time travel, and more general metaphysical issues. He is the founder of Empirical Fundamentalism, a philosophical program dedicated to addressing traditional philosophical problems using a distinction between fundamental and derivative reality.

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Kobo ebook|Aug 26 2014

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 18, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019993620X

ISBN - 13:9780199936205

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Table of Contents

1. Empirical Analysis and the Metaphysics of Causation1.1 Empirical Analysis1.1.1 The Distinctive Features of Empirical Analysis1.2 Empirical Analysis of the Metaphysics of Causation1.2.1 Effective Strategies1.3 Empirical Analysis of the Non-metaphysical Aspects of Causation1.4 Causation as Conceptually Tripartite1.5 A Sketch of the Metaphysics of Causation1.6 Fundamental and Derivative1.6.1 The Kinetic Energy Example1.6.2 Some Constitutive Principles of Fundamentality1.7 Abstreduction1.8 STRICT Standards and RELAXED Standards1.9 Limitations on the Aspirations of Empirical Analysis1.10 Comparison between Empirical Analysis and Orthodox Analysis1.11 SummaryPart I: The Bottom Conceptual Layer of Causation2. Fundamental Causation2.1 Preliminaries2.1.1 Events2.1.2 Laws2.2 Terminance2.2.1 Causal Contribution2.2.2 Trivial Terminance2.3 The Space-time Arena2.4 Classical Gravitation2.4.1 Galilean Space-time2.4.2 Terminants in Classical Gravitation2.4.3 Overdetermination in Classical Gravitation2.4.4 Instantaneous Causation2.5 Relativistic Electromagnetism2.5.1 Minkowski Space-time2.5.2 Minimal Terminants in Relativistic Electromagnetism2.5.3 Classical Unified Field Theory2.6 Content Independence2.7 Continuity and Shielding2.8 Transitivity2.9 Determinism2.10 Stochastic Indeterminism2.10.1 Stochastic Lattices2.10.1 Stochastic Lattices2.11 Non-stochastic Indeterminism2.11.1 Newtonian Indeterminism2.11.2 Contribution Extended2.12 General Relativity2.12.1 Spatio-temporal Indeterminism2.12.2 Closed Time-like Curves2.13 Quantum Mechanics2.13.1 The Quantum Arena and its Contents2.13.2 Bohmian Mechanics2.13.3 Spontaneous Collapse Interpretations2.13.4 Other Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics2.14 SummaryPart II: The Middle Conceptual Layer of Causation3. Counterfactuals and Difference-making3.1 General Causation3.2 Counterfactuals3.3 Goodman's Account of Counterfactuals3.4 The Nomic Conditional3.5 Comparison to Ordinary Language Conditionals3.6 Prob-dependence3.7 Contrastive Events3.8 Summary4. Derivative Causation4.1 Influence4.2 Prob-influence4.3 General Causation4.4 Temporally Extended Events4.5 Idiomatic Differences between Promotion and Causation4.6 Aspect Promotion4.7 Promotion by Omission4.8 Contrastivity4.9 Transitivity4.10 Continuit4.11 Shielding4.12 Partial Influence4.13 Summary5. The Empirical Content of Promotion5.1 The Promotion Experiment5.2 Insensitivity Considerations5.3 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics5.4 The Asymmetry of Bizarre Coincidences5.5 The Analogy to Thermal and Mechanical Energy5.6 Broad and Narrow Promotion5.7 Inferences from Empirical Data to Claims of Promotion5.7.1 Simpson's Paradox5.8 Why There are Effective Strategies5.9 Mechanistic Theories of Causation6. Backtracking Influence6.1 The Direction of Influence6.2 Proof of Causal Directness6.3 A Search for Empirical Phenomena Behind Causal Directness6.4 'Past-directed then Future-directed' Influence7. Causal Asymmetry7.1 The Empirical Content of the Causal Asymmetry7.2 Causation and Advancement7.3 An Explanation of the Advancement Asymmetry7.3.1 Prob-influence through Backtracking7.3.2 Directly Past-directed Prob-influence7.3.3 Summary7.4 Pseudo-backtracking Prob-influence7.5 The Entropy Asymmetry and Causal Directionality7.6 Recent Alternative Explanations of Causal Asymmetry7.6.1 The Albert-Kutach-Loewer Approach7.6.2 The Price-Weslake Approach7.6.3 The Fork Asymmetry Approach7.7 Fundamental Influence Asymmetry7.7.1 Fundamental Influence Asymmetry by Fiat7.7.2 Fundamental Influence Asymmetry by Happenstance7.8 SummaryPart III: The Top Conceptual Layer of Causation8. Culpable Causation8.1 The Empirical Insignificance of Culpability8.1.1 Part I: Singular Causation8.1.2 Part II: General Causation8.2 Culpability as a Heuristic for Learning about Promotion8.3 Culpability as an Explanatory Device8.4 Culpable Causes as Proxies for Terminants and Promoters8.5 Commentary9. The Psychology of Culpable Causation9.1 The Toy Theory of Culpable Causation9.2 Culpability19.2.1 Salience9.2.2 Irreflexivity9.2.3 Asymmetry9.2.4 Significant Promotion9.3 Shortcomings of Culpability19.3.2 Overlapping Causation9.3.3 Probability-Lowering Causes9.4 Culpability29.5 Shortcomings of Culpability29.5.1 Saved Fizzles9.5.2 Early Cutting Preemption9.5.3 Late Cutting Preemption9.6 Culpability39.7 Culpability49.8 Summary10. Causation in a Physical World10.1 Summary10.2 Future DirectionsReferences