Causing in Some Way

  • David-Hillel Ruben


This chapter will attempt to show that there are no particulars that are causings, no acts or events of causing. As in the chapters on trying, it is important to show (a) some of the negative consequences of introducing causing-particulars; (b) that there is no need to reify causings in that way; and (c) that there is an alternative to their introduction.

There is however one adverbial modification that needs special examination: ‘with instrument i’. Does (1) ‘P openedt the door with a crowbar’ imply (2) ‘P caused the door to openi with a crowbar’? If so, it seems that (2) attributes ‘with a crowbar’ either to an openingi or to a causing. What other options might there be? The second option would give us causing particulars.

According to a rule of Terence Parsons’, the first option is ruled out. Instrumentals must be attributed to actions, not events, and so, extrapolating this to the case of causing something, one seems to need an act of causing to which the instrumental could be attributed. I look at an ‘ingenious’ solution due to Maria Alvarez that accepts that rule, but would still not require any quantification over causings. I then consider a reply to her by Erasmus Mayr that shows that her solution will not work. I end by showing how one-particularism solves the problem, but at the cost of denying Parsons’ rule.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David-Hillel Ruben
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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