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Must a Cause Be Contingently Related to Its Effects?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Jig-chuen Lee*
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara

Extract

Most writers on causation have distinguished causal relations or natural necessities from mere correlations or accidental generalizations. I shall assume that this is a valid distinction. However, a "Dogma" of empiricism has been that natural necessity does not amount to logical necessity and that causes are contingently related to effects. In this paper I shall argue that this Dogma is mistaken.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Authors 1979

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References

1 Enquiries, ed. Selby-Bigge, L.A., 2nd ed. (Oxford at the Clarendon Press), p. 30.Google Scholar

2 “Actions, Reasons, and Causes,” reprinted in Readings in the Theory of Action, ed. Care, ZN.S. and Landesman, C. (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1968), p. 191.Google Scholar

3 William Kneale writes: “It is no doubt true to say that the number 12 is necessarily composite, but it is certainly not correct to say that the number of the apostles is necessarily composite, unless the remark is to be understood as an elliptical statement of relative necessity. And again, it is no doubt correct to say that this at which I am pointing is contingently white, but it is certainly not correct to say that the white paper at which I am looking is contingently white …. “ Kneale, “Modality De Dicto and De Re,” in Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, ed. Nagel, ,Suppes, , and Tarski, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1962), p. 629.Google Scholar W.V. Quine writes: “In a word, to be necessarily greater than 7 is not a trait of a number but depends on the manner of referring to the number …. Being necessarily or possibly thus and so is in general not a trait of the object concerned, but depends on the manner of referring to the object.” Quine, , “Reference and Modality,” in From a Logical Point of View, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), p. 148.Google Scholar

4 See Kripke, Saul, “Naming and Necessity,” in Semantics for Natural Languages, ed. Davidson, D. and Harman, G. (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1972)Google Scholar, and Plantinga, Alvin, The Nature of Necessity (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1974).Google Scholar

5 Kripke, op. cit., pp. 319-21.

6 Ibid., pp. 274-75.

7 “A Revised ‘Logical Connection’ Argument,” Philosophical Studies 27(1975), p. 218.Google Scholar

8 Kripke writes: “Any world in which we imagine a substance which does not have these properties is a world in which we imagine a substance which is not gold, provided these properties form the basis of what substance is. In particular, then, present scientific theory is such that it is part of the nature of gold as we have it to be an element with atomic number 79. It will therefore be necessary and not contingent that gold be an element with atomic number 79.” Kripke, op. cit., pp. 320-21. Putnam writes: “In fact, once we have discovered the nature of water, nothing counts as a possible world in which water doesn't have that nature. Once we have discovered that water (in the actual world) is H20, nothing counts as a possible world in which water isn't H20.” Putnam, , “Meaning and Reference,” The journal of Philosophy 70 (1973), p. 709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9 See the quotes in footnote 8. The phrase ‘hidden structure’ occurred in “The Meaning of Meaning” in Putnam's Philosophical Papers, vol. 2, Mind, Language and Reality Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).Google Scholar

10 See the quote from Putnam in footnote 8.

11 In “Naming and Necessity” Kripke writes: “But once we know that this is a thing composed of molecules- that this is the very nature of the substance of which it is made -we can't then, at least if the way I see it is correct, imagine that this thing might have failed to have been composed of molecules” (p. 322).

12 5 stands for the conditions where no interfering factors are present.

13 I am very grateful to Professor Francis W. Dauer for his extremely helpful comments and suggestions. Also I want to thank the referee for his comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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