Causal foundationalism, physical causation, and difference-making

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Synthese, ISSN: 0039-7857, Vol: 190, Issue: 6, Page: 1017-1037

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Glynn, Luke
Springer Nature; Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Social Sciences; Arts and Humanities
article description
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney's argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.