Monday, October 29, 2012

A Defence of Causation by Absence

Using David Lewis’s (2000) account of counterfactuals to address metaphysical causation has a significant limitation: It significantly overgenerates cases of causation by absence. Helen Beebee (2004) has used this difficulty in an argument that metaphysically robust (i.e. non-arbitrary, determinate) causation by omission is not possible. In this essay, I offer an alternative definition for causation by absence in response. On my definition, the worlds in which the effect fails cannot be closer to the actual world than those worlds in which the omitted event occurs. This definition is determinate, non-arbitrary, and does not require a metric on the distance between possible worlds.

Causation by omission; Relationism; Experimental philosophy; Possible worlds

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