Analytical Philosophy - Vol. 1

By R. J. Butler | Go to book overview

CAUSATION
J. R. LUCAS

I

Two separate issues cloud the problem of causation: one is the logical problem of induction, the fact that however many times we have verified a causal sequence or a law of nature, it is still not deductively impossible for a falsifying instance to occur: the other is the question of how we operate our concepts of cause and effect, taking it for granted that any causal sequences or laws of nature that we do discover are omnitemporal and universal in their application, and will not, provided we have formulated them correctly, ever break down or admit of a contrary instance. The first question will not concern us here. It does not seem feasible to construct a deductive justification of induction, that is, a justification by means of a series of deductive inferences from premisses that are analytically true. Experience always could be different; it is not possible to rule out any type of experience on grounds of deductive logic alone. This is not to say that our assumptions of causality and uniformity are as contingent as empiricist philosophers sometimes suggest: although particular break-downs of causality and particular non-conformities in nature are easy to imagine, and would be easy to describe in our language if they were to happen, there is a presumption in all our thinking and all our talking of the continuing validity of causal and natural uniformities; and if this presumption were rebutted, the consequences for the conceptual scheme in which we think would be serious and far-reaching. It is with the second question that we are here concerned: I shall attempt to analyse our concept of cause, and separate out the various storeys of its conceptual edifice. The ground floor is, as is well known, the deductive logic of sufficient and necessary conditions; above this are several floors in which complexities and refinements due to considerations of causal irrelevance, logical economy, limited variability and uniqueness, are in turn introduced; and underneath the whole there is a basement which is seldom explored where problems due to type-token distinctions are generated and surreptitiously

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Analytical Philosophy - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Symposium - Effects, Results and Consequences 1
  • Causation - J. R. Lucas 32
  • Counterfactuals and Causal Laws 66
  • Propositions 81
  • On Some Paradoxes 104
  • Nonentities 120
  • Some Remarks About the Senses 133
  • Symposium - Avowals 154
  • Non-Other Minds 187
  • Dreaming and 'Depth Grammar' 211
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