Philosophy 290-5

Spring 2023

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-5 Graduate Seminar: Causation Campbell M 10-12 Moses 234

One main question of the seminar will be whether we can think of causation as one and the same phenomenon as it relates to the psychological life and as it relates to physical phenomena. That is, is causation the same thing when we’re talking about mental causation as it is when we’re talking about physical causation?

We’ll review a number of models of causation, including interventionist, mechanistic and process models. We’ll look at whether these models can be applied equally well to mental and to physical interactions. And we’ll look at the contrast between general causation (‘credit squeezes cause unemployment’) and singular causation (‘her employer’s inability to borrow money cost Sally her job’).

Finally, we’ll look at how ordinary causal thinking plays a part in (a) our ability to think about time, including the distinctively human ability to think in terms of linear time, (b) ordinary moral or practical thinking – how causal considerations play a role in the trolley problem, for example, and (c) our understanding of natural languages.