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Efficient CausationA History$
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Tad M. Schmaltz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782185

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782185.001.0001

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Efficient Causation in

Efficient Causation in

Malebranche and Berkeley

(p.198) Chapter Seven Efficient Causation in
Efficient Causation

Lisa Downing

Oxford University Press

Both Nicholas Malebranche and George Berkeley maintained that what was becoming a paradigmatic example of efficient causation—body-body causation at impact—is in fact not that at all, that God must be the efficient cause of such corporeal change. On some recent interpretations, they secure this conclusion by maintaining that only volitions, or beings with wills, are legitimate candidates to be efficient causes. This chapter argues against these interpretations. Malebranche does not rule out corporeal causes by fiat, but rather (and rightly) sees bodily impact as a serious challenge to his occasionalism, one which motivates him to emphasize his argument from continuous creation. And Berkeley does not rule in spiritual causes by fiat, nor by conflating efficient with final causation. The chapter also considers the extent to which their occasionalist conclusions overlap, and their divergence when it comes to drawing implications for physics from their metaphysical results.

Keywords:   Berkeley, bodily impact, continuous creation, efficient causation, Malebranche, occasionalism, volition

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