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  • From: "Laszlo E. Szabo" <leszabo AT>
  • To: mafla <mafla AT>, fizinfo <fizinfo AT>, Multiple recipients of list <koglist AT>
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  • Subject: [Fizinfo] TUDOMANYFILOZOFIA SZEMINARIUM, B. B o r s t n e r
  • Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 00:10:23 +0100
  • List-id: ELFT HRAD <>
  • Organization: Eotvos Univ.

ELTE TTK Tudomanytortenet es Tudomanyfilozofia Tanszek
Budapest, Pazmany P. setany 1/A

December 11.
6. em. 6.54

B o j a n B o r s t n e r
Department of Philosophy, University of Maribor, Slovenija


In this lecture we search for a theory that will (at least
implicitly) define
the concept of causation.
1. Ontology
(i)The world contains a number of individuals. Individuals
are first order
particulars, which are things taken along with all their
(ii) Properties and relations are fundamental constituents
of the world.
What properties and relations there are can not be
determinate a priori,
but a posterior, empirically, on the basis of total science.

(iii) Properties and relations are conceived of as
(iv) Individuals, properties and relations are constituents
of states of
(v) There are complex and simple properties.
(vi) Complex properties have constituents that are:
(a) not ultimate - complexity without simple
(b) Ultimate - simple properties that are finite or
infinite in number -
complexity may be finite or infinite.
2. Theory of causation
2.1 We search for a theory that will (at least) implicitly
define the
concept of causation. Our goal is not the theory that is
just contingently
true. A theory of causation must be analytically true and it
must offer an
analysis of the concept of causation that must be true in
all possible
worlds (not just in actual).
2.2 Hume, in the Treatise, famously offered consecutive
pairs of
definitions of causation (Hume, 1975, 170)
2.3 The conclusion that we can derive from Hume's ideas is:
(i) causation is not directly observable
(ii) causation can not be a primitive relation between
(iii) therefore, causation is reducible to some other items
(in Hume's
case to the contiguity and precendency)
3. Basic features
3.1 A causal relation is any relation between states of
affairs that is
irreflexive and asymmetric, which excludes loops, and which
the open sentence T.
3.2 Some relations between states of affairs are genuine
3.3 No relation relates less than two particulars - no
particulars can be
related to itself.
3.4 All genuine relations are necessarily irreflexive:
3.5 If a causal relation is not necessarily antysymmetric
then there is no
distinction between a causal relation and nomic necessity.
3.51 Nomic necessitation:
(i) it is a law that anything with property F also has
property G. The
first thesis is compatible with: it is a law that anything
with property G
has property F.
(ii) If having property F is causally necessary for
having property G,
it must be a law that whatever has property F has property
(iii) If having F is causally sufficient for having G,
it must be a law
that whatever has G also has F.
(iv) If having F is both causally necessarily and
causally sufficient for
having G, it must be a law that something has property F if
and only if it
has property G.
(v) Therefore, the relation of nomic necessitation
cannot be
necessarily asymmetric.
3.52 Causation
There is a popular theory that defines causation as some
sort of
"necessary connection.
3.521 Causal relation:
(i) if SOA S causes SOA U it cannot be the case that U
causes S.
(ii) causal relation is necessarily asymmetric.
3.522 Causal necessitation:
(i) If having property F is a causally sufficient
condition for having
property G, then having property G cannot be a causally
condition for having property F.
(ii) If having F is causally sufficient condition for
having G, then
having G is causally sufficient condition for F iff G is
identical with F.
(iii) causal necessitation is necessarily asymmetric.
If a relation R is a causal relation then it is asymmetric,
transitive and irreflexive.
3.6 Laws of nature and causality
Laws are second order state of affairs. They involve
relations between
universals, which nomically necessitate corresponding
about first order particulars (SOA)
3.61 Causal laws are laws that involve causal relations.
3.62 Causal laws and necessary and sufficient conditions
are global;
causal relation is local.
3.64 The existence of a causal relation does not by itself
the existence of a law.
3.65 Causal explanation subsumes SOAs (events) under the
3.66 Causal explanation (why) is not reduced to nomological

explanation (how).
4. Conclusion
If the singularist theory of causation is correct then it is
possible for there to be causally related SOAs that do no
fall under any
law and it is possible to explicate the theory of causation
without any
reference to laws of nature. However, it does not exclude
possibility that there are laws of nature and singular
causal relation
could be an instantiation of such a law.

A szeminaarium szervez'oje: E. Szaboo Laaszloo.

Laszlo E. Szabo
Department of Theoretical Physics
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Eotvos University, Budapest
H-1518 Budapest, Pf. 32.
Phone/Fax: (36-1)372-2924
Home: (36-1) 200-7318
Mobil/SMS: (36) 20-366-1172

  • [Fizinfo] TUDOMANYFILOZOFIA SZEMINARIUM, B. B o r s t n e r, Laszlo E. Szabo, 12/06/2000

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