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Causality and Explanation$
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Wesley C. Salmon

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195108644

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195108647.001.0001

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An “At‐At” Theory of Causal Influence

An “At‐At” Theory of Causal Influence

Chapter:
(p.193) 12 An “At‐At” Theory of Causal Influence
Source:
Causality and Explanation
Author(s):

Wesley C. Salmon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195108647.003.0013

The propagation of causal influences through space‐time plays a fundamental role in scientific explanation. Taking as point of departure, a basic distinction between causal interactions (which are localized in space‐time) and causal processes (which may extend through vast regions of space‐time), this chapter attempts an analysis of the concept of causal propagation on the basis of the ability of causal processes to transmit “marks.” The analysis rests upon the “at–at” theory of motion that has figured prominently in the resolution of Zeno's arrow paradox. It is argued that this explication does justice to the idea that causal processes can transmit causal influence without invoking anti‐Humean “powers” or “necessary connections.” Although at the time this essay was first written, the author treated causal processes in terms of capacity to transmit marks, the basic concept of transmission works equally well in the conserved quantities theory introduced in Ch. 16.

Keywords:   causal interaction, causal process, Hume, transmission, Zeno's paradox

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