The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Nov 5, 2009
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Ned Hall (Harvard University)
In Praise of Causal Mechanisms

Consider two theses about causation: (1) Causes are connected to their effects by way of mediating causal mechanisms or processes; (2) Scientific inquiry aims (at least in part) at discerning and describing the causal structure of our world. Some of the best contemporary work on causation claims—often implicitly, but sometimes quite explicitly—that, in giving an account of causation, we should sacrifice (1) for the sake of producing an account that makes the best sense of (2). I will first try to show why this claim is quite attractive, and then obstreperously argue against it: I will aim to show that the best way to make sense of (2) is, in fact, by means of an account of causal structure that fully vindicates (1).