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The Universe As We Find It$
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John Heil

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199596201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596201.001.0001

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(p.117) Chapter 6 Causing
The Universe As We Find It

John Heil

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the ‘received view’ of causation as a relation among events that is asymmetrical (effects follow causes), nonreflexive (no event can cause itself), transitive (if A causes B, and B causes C, A causes C), and backed by laws. The suggestion is that, although elements of the received view reflect aspects of the phenomenon of causation, it might be beneficial to consider the causal nexus, particular causings. Causings are manifestings of powers or dispositions. Causings are symmetrical and continuous, instances of interactions. Playing cards propped up against one another provide a more representative, less misleading model than do colliding billiard balls. Causing is fully deterministic. Indeterminacy can be introduced into the universe via spontaneous manifestations of certain properties (as in the decay of a radium atom). The causal efficacy of absences is discussed along with talk of preventers, antidotes, blockers, inhibitors, and finks.

Keywords:   cause, causing, effect, law, event, interaction, absence, fink, antidote, power, disposition, indeterminacy

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