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Causation as Folk Science

Norton, John D (2003) Causation as Folk Science. Philosopher's Imprint, 3 (4). 1 - 22. (Unpublished)

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I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science of causation. This recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Norton, John Djdnorton@pitt.eduJDNORTON
Date: November 2003
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Philosopher's Imprint
Volume: 3
Number: 4
Publisher: Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library
Page Range: 1 - 22
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: No
Uncontrolled Keywords: cause, causation, causality, determinism, skepticism, reduction
Official URL:
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2009 17:53
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 18:55


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