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Real Materialismand Other Essays$
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Galen Strawson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267422.001.0001

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Realism and Causation

Realism and Causation

(p.387) 16 Realism and Causation
Real Materialism

Galen Strawson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Regularity realism (‘r’) is indefensible: the regularity theory of causation is not cotenable with any ordinary realism about the physical world. The first main argument of this chapter is that rr is not logically incoherent, only rationally indefensible. It acknowledges (1) that the world behaves in a highly regular way, and then asserts (2) that there is absolutely no reason why this is so, since (3) as far as causation is concerned, there is nothing but regularity. Rr does not just claim (4) that we can never know whether or not there is some reason why there is regularity. It asserts positively (5) (= (2)) that the world has no feature(s) in virtue of which it is a regular world. So it asserts positively that the whole thing is an amazing fluke. This is unacceptable. The second main argument is that rr is actually incoherent. An ordinary realist understanding of matter as something that persists in time and has a certain nature is incompatible with any merely regularity theory of causation.

Keywords:   causation, regularity theory, natural necessity, brute fact, laws of nature, constant conjunction

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