Causality and Explanation: A Reply to Two Critiques

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Citation: Salmon, Wesley C. Causality and Explanation: A Reply to Two Critiques. Philosophy of Science 64(3) (RSS)
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This paper is a kind of respond to Phil Dowe and Chiristopher Hitchcock and their reviews and counterarguments of the author’s assertion about theory of causality, specifically about the explication of causal process, causal interaction, and causal transmission. In this paper, Salmon introduces several subjects that were mentioned by others, agrees and changes his original assertions in some parts, disagrees and holds on to his in other parts and agrees and develops more in the other parts. I would like to introduce some parts of his response in here.

1. Directionality: About the subject of possibility of existence of a time direction which the mark methods establish, Salmon took a neural position in his previous paper (1994). But now he believes the existence of time direction such as sequence from A to B as following Dowe’s reformulation (two types of asymmetry, causal and temporal).

2. The Conservative of Conserved Quantities: He says this idea is obviously true though application this notion to practical situation (it could be embodied in certain managed condition). And little disagreement is terminology. (However, they disagree with each other about the characteristic of interaction.)

3. Causality and Fields: There are two different mechanisms, Newton’s first law (free from interaction) and electromagnetic phenomena (causal interaction). His example of baseball is more close to Newton’s notion of gravitation but I think he reserves judgment for generalization.

4. Transmission: About the existence of transmission which is related with the amount of quantity, Salmon believes it is indispensable while Dowe says it is unnecessary based on the “gerrymandered aggregate”. Salmon rebuts using the notion of conserved quantities which Dowe disagree with.

5. Gerrymandered Aggregates vs. Objects: (continuing the former subject) Salmon disagree with Dowe’s notion of gerrymandered aggregates. He points about errors in Dowe’s example of the spot of light which does not have time-slice wholly.

6. Transmission vs. Genidentity: According to the idea of conservative of conserved quantities and examples of body and boat which can have various features but the original identity is the same, he cannot agree with Dowe’s notion of genidentity which says CQ could change in some sense.

7. The Mechanical Philosophy: He admits Hichcock’s claim that Salmon’s theoretical premise (conservative of conserved quantities) is limited to cover and explain his example (baseball) and suggests of accepting new mechanical idea.

8. Counterexamples: He acknowledges of Hichcock’s other claim about vagueness in his assertion which does not contain variables abandoning the mark criterion as Dowe does.

9. Counterfactuals and Statistical Relevance: He stresses his thoughts and principles about theory of causal explanation. Which is that causality is basic factor of statistical explanation but the causal relations cannot be explained with statistical relations. Therefore this explanation should be dealt with in two-steps, understanding in statistical relevance relation and in causal process and interactions on the other.

10. Philosophical Methodology: He agrees with Hichcock’s opinion which sticks to mechanical methodology but also suggests possibility of using reductive analyses in the framework of the logical empiricist.