A Ranking-theoretic Account of Deterministic Causation

Note from the organiser: The technical background for this talk will be the paper "Causation: An Alternative" (British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57, 2006).

Abstract of "Causation: An Alternative"

The paper builds on the basically Humean general idea that A is a cause of B iff A and B both occur, A precedes B, and A raises the metaphysical or epistemic status of B given the obtaining circumstances. It argues that in pursuit of a theory of deterministic causation this 'status raising' is best explicated not in regularity or counterfactual terms, but in terms of ranking functions. On this basis, it constructs a rigorous theory of deterministic causation that successfully deals with cases of overdetermination and preemption. It finally indicates how the account's profound epistemic relativization induced by ranking theory can be undone.

July 9, 2010 / 4.00 p.m. / LMU Munich (M210)