Singular Causation without Dispositions

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THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 2171-679X, Vol: 26, Issue: 1, Page: 35-50

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García-Encinas, María José
Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
article description
Is singular causation best understood within a dispositionalist framework? Although a positive answer has not yet been wholly developed, different philosophers have made some positive contributions suggesting that it is. Against these suggestions, I claim that any possible account of singular causation in terms of real, irreducible, dispositions conveys unsolvable flaws in its very metaphysical foundations. First, I present two main constituents that I take to be necessary for any possible dispositional account of singular causation: (i) the possibility of causation without laws, which is a necessary condition for causal singularism, and (ii) a conception of dispositions as real, irreducible entities or properties. This results in a minimal dispositionalist view of singular causation. Second, I argue that, even if minimal, this view already has to face up to serious difficulties: (i) an ontological problem concerning the individuating conditions for dispositions in causal contexts, (ii) an instance of infinite regress, (iii) the loss of the relational character of causation and, as a corollary, (iv) the loss of the asymmetry of causation. Third, I argue that dispositional and dispositionalism that is becoming commonplace but which, I claim, is in fact a false choice. Finally, I sketch a possible picture of causality without laws and without disposition.