SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Counterexample to (the most charitable reading of) Influence Theory of Causation
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

After abandoning his counterfactual analysis of causation, David Lewis had proposed a theory that defines causation in terms of influence (Lewis 2004). That theory, Influence theory of causation (ITC), has been heavily criticised and there are more than a few counterexamples (CEs) offered against it (e.g. Schaffer 2001, Bigaj 2012). However, since the central notion of the theory -- the notion of influence -- is defined in a complex way and by using vague qualifications (namely: ''a substantial range of not-too-distant alterations''), there is a valid concern about whether the theory itself is committed to the implicit assumptions of the given CEs. The aim of my talk is to offer a CE to ITC which avoids excessive and controversial commitments and which, instead, rests upon a (probably: extremely) charitable reading of the theory. I will start by analysing the vagueness within the definition of influence, and by pointing out what are the desiderata for its resolution. Then, I will propose a ''context-sensitive threshold'' reading of the influence definition. After that, I will turn to the re-evaluation of some proposed CEs to ITC, with respect to this proposed interpretation of ITC. I will there argue that specific resolutions of vagueness, presupposed by these CEs, are not easy to justify, which in turn affects the plausibility of the given CEs. Finally, I will introduce new CE, which -- as I shall argue -- avoids the problems of those previously mentioned. Moreover, since it does not depend on some potentially controversial reading of the theory (one that ITC defender might not feel committed to), I consider this new CE to be more plausible and more diagnostically relevant (as an argument against ITC).

Chair:
Time: 19:00-19:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Milan Jovanović 
(University of Nis, Serbia)

Milan Z. Jovanović is a Ph.D. student (University of Belgrade, Serbia) and teaching assistant in the Philosophy Department at the University of Niš. He is currently working on his doctoral thesis with the title ''Counterfactual Theory of Causation and Causal Pluralism''. Beside conceptual analysis of causation, his research interests include epistemic contextualism and formal semantics for conditionals. Prior to his appointment at the University of Niš, he had worked as a high school teacher for two years, teaching Logic and Philosophy.

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