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Action at a distance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2017

Extract

In the broadest sense of the phrase, there is action at a distance whenever there is a spatial or temporal gap (or both) between a cause and its effect. In this sense, it is not at all controversial that there is action at a distance. To cite a few instances: the page a few inches in front of you is impinging on your senses; the Sun is now warming the Earth; we are still living with the consequences of the Second World War. What is controversial is the idea of unmediated action at a distance, where there is both a gap between cause and effect and no intermediate causes and effects to fill it. The three examples just mentioned are cases of action at a distance, certainly, but not, surely, unmediated action at a distance. What we expect to find, in each case, is a spatially and temporally continuous causal series stretching across time and space.

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Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2007

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