Philosophia

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 327–354 | Cite as

Regularity Theories Reassessed

Article

Abstract

For a long time, regularity accounts of causation have virtually vanished from the scene. Problems encountered within other theoretical frameworks have recently induced authors working on causation, laws of nature, or methodologies of causal reasoning – as e.g. May (Kausales Schliessen. Eine Untersuchung über kausale Erklärungen und Theorienbildung. Ph.D. thesis, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, 1999), Ragin (Fuzzy-set social science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Graßhoff and May (Causal regularities. In W. Spohn, M. Ledwig, & M. Esfeld (Eds.), Current issues in causation (pp. 85–114). Paderborn: Mentis, 2001), Swartz (The concept of physical law (2nd ed.). http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/physical-law/, 2003), Halpin (Erkenntnis, 58, 137–168, 2003) – to direct their attention back to regularity theoretic analyses. In light of the latest proposals of regularity theories, the paper at hand therefore reassesses the criticism raised against regularity accounts since the INUS theory of causation of Mackie (The cement of the universe. A study of causation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974). It is shown that most of these objections target strikingly over-simplified regularity theoretic sketches. By outlining ways to refute these objections it is argued that the prevalent conviction as to the overall failure of regularity theories has been hasty.

Keywords

Causation Regularity theory Determinism David Hume John L. Mackie 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Timm Lampert and Gerd Graßhoff for valuable discussions about the issues addressed in this paper and three anonymous referees for this journal for very helpful comments on an earlier draft. Moreover, I am grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation for generous support of this work (Grant 1114-066803.01/1).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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