Here is an annotated bibliography for each week. Start at the beginning and get as far as you can.
Some weeks have guest speakers: their contributions are starred.
Week 1 (Apr 25): Reducing Causation to Counterfactuals
We start this week with Lewis’s classic counterfactual account of causation (which will hopefully be familiar to many of you):
- Lewis, D. (1973). Causation. Journal of Philosophy 70(17), 556-567.
If causation is to be analysed in terms of counterfactuals, we need an analysis of counterfactuals that doesn’t itself appeal to causation. Here is Lewis’s attempt to do that:
- Lewis, D. (1979). Counterfactual dependence and time’s arrow. Noûs 13(4), 455-476.
And here is a criticism of Lewis’s attempt:
- Elga, A. (2001). Statistical mechanics and the asymmetry of counterfactualdependence. Philosophy of Science 68(3), 313-324.
A different strategy is suggested in this passage:
- Paul, L. A. and Hall, N. (2013). Causation: A user’s guide, pp. 43-48. Oxford: OUP.
Woodward simply accepts that we cannot analyse the relevant counterfactuals in non-causal terms, but denies that the resulting circularity is problematic; see:
- Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation, sections 1.4 [motivation of the approach], 2.2, 2.3, 2.7 [the analysis of causation in terms of interventions], 3.1 [the analysis of interventions in terms of causation] and 3.6 [comparison with Lewis’s view], Oxford: OUP.
Week 2 (May 2): Reducing Counterfactuals to Causation
Last week we looked at different attempts to analyse counterfactuals in non-causal terms. Here is a general argument to the effect that this cannot be done:
- Edgington, D. (2011). Causation first: Why causation is prior to counterfactuals. In C. Hoerl, T. McCormack and S. R. Beck (eds.), Understanding counterfactuals, understanding causation, Oxford: OUP.
Perhaps, then, we should be analysing counterfactuals in terms of causation. Here is one attempt to do that:
- Kment, B. (2014). Modality and Explanatory Reasoning, ch. 1 [motivation for the approach], chs. 8-9 [the analysis of closeness], ch. 11 [making fully explicit the role of causation and its link with counterfactuals], Oxford: OUP.
Handout - expanded on the basis of the discussion we had in class.
Week 3 (May 9): The Third Factor - GUEST SPEAKER: Michael Strevens
Rather than analysing causation in terms of counterfactuals or vice versa, perhaps we should be analysing both of them in terms of some third concept, such as laws of nature. Here’s a nice initial motivation of this idea:
- Maudlin, T. (2004). Causation, counterfactuals, and the third factor. In J. Collins, N. Hall and L. A. Paul (eds.), Causation and counterfactuals, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
For one attempt to reduce causation to laws of nature, start by reading this:
- Mackie, J. L. (1965). Causes and conditions. American Philosophical Quarterly 2(4), 245-264.
Then read this:
- * Strevens, M. (2007). Mackie remixed. In J. Keim Campbell, M. O’Rourke and H. S.Silverstein (eds.), Causation and explanation, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 2.
To see how such an approach might be able to capture the connections between causation and counterfactuals, see:
- Kment, B. (2010). Causation: determination and difference-making. Noûs 44(1), 80- 111.
This is a classic critique of the idea that there is a law-like connection between causes and effects:
- Anscombe, G. E. M. (1981). Causality and determination. In G. E. M. Anscombe, Metaphysics and the philosophy of mind: Collected philosophical papers Vol. 2. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. [Link is to the abridged version.]
And finally – a view that says we have two different concepts of causation, namely counterfactual dependence and production:
- Hall, N. (2004). Two concepts of causation. J. Collins, N. Hall and L. A. Paul (eds.),Causation and counterfactuals, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Week 4 (May 16): Dispositions and Modality - GUEST SPEAKER: Barbara Vetter
Some people try to analyse dispositions in counterfactual terms; for example:
- Lewis, D. (1997). Finkish dispositions. The Philosophical Quarterly 47(187), 143-158.
But here is a general argument that this cannot be done:
- Vetter, B. (2015). Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, Oxford: OUP, ch. 2.
Vetter thinks that disposition ascriptions are equivalent either to standard possibility claims, or to something a bit stronger, which she calls easy possibility; see:
- * Vetter, B. (2014). Dispositions without conditionals. Mind 123(489), 129-156.
- * Vetter, B. (2015). Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, Oxford: OUP, ch. 3. [A slightly revised version of Vetter (2014).]
This paper engages with Vetter but develops the view that all disposition ascriptions are semantically equivalent to standard possibility claims:
- Aimar, S. (2018). Disposition Ascriptions. Philosophical Studies, 1-26.
When it comes to the metaphysics, Vetter thinks that modality should be analysed in terms of dispositions; see:
- Vetter, B. (2015). Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, Oxford: OUP, remaining chapters [see esp. the first half of ch.6].
Week 5 (May 23): Dispositions and Causation - GUEST SPEAKER: Ralf Bader
This week will focus on recent explorations into the relationship between dispositions, modality and causation. Start with this piece by Bader:
- * Bader, R. (ms). Dispositionality, Intrinsicality and Causation. [Circulated via email -- check your mailbox :)]
Then read the following chapters of McKitrik’s forthcoming book:
- McKitrik, J. (forthcoming), Dispositional Pluralism, chs 9-10. [Circulated via email -- check your mailbox :)]
For an attempt to ground causation in dispositions, see:
- Hutterman, A. (2013). A disposition-based process theory of causation. In S. Mumford and M. Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and science, Oxford: OUP.
Week 6 (May 30): Causal Contextualism and Modal Contextualism
There are two different kinds of contextualism about modal talk. According to the first, modal claims are relativized to a set of facts we’re ‘holding fixed’:
- Kratzer, A. (1977). What ‘must’ and ‘can’ must and can mean. Linguistics and Philosophy 1(3), 337-355.
According to the second, de re modal claims are relativized to a choice of counterpart relation:
- Lewis, D. (1986). On the Plurality of Worlds, section 4.5. Oxford: Blackwell.
Insofar as there are connections between causation and modality, one might expect causal claims to be context-sensitive in the same sorts of ways. Here are two arguments to that effect:
Kaiserman, A. (2017). Necessary connections in context. Erkenntnis 82(1), 45-64.
Kaiserman, A. (2017). Causes and counterparts. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95(1), 17-28.
Others have proposed different contextualist semantics of causal claims; for a summary, see:
- Schaffer, J. (2012). Causal Contextualism. In M. Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in philosophy, London: Routledge.
And for a defense of invariantism about causal claims, see:
- Montminy, M. and Russo, A. (2016). A defense of causal invariantism. Analytic Philosophy 57(1), 49-75.
Week 7 (June 6): Degrees of Causation and Degrees of Possibility - GUEST SPEAKER: Boris Kment
Do causation and possibility come in degrees? Some think yes. Here is a summary of different ways an event might be ‘more of a cause’ of some effect:
- Kaiserman, A. (2018). ‘More of a cause’: Recent work on degrees of causation and responsibility. Philosophy Compass.
For an approach to modality that naturally lends itself to a notion of ‘degrees of possibility’, see:
- *Kment, B. (2014). Modality and explanatory reasoning, Oxford: OUP, ch. 2 (esp. 2.4-2.6).
Linguists also focus on degrees of modality. They ask how to account for the gradability of modal claims. Kratzer, as we saw last week, does it in terms of ordering sources. Lassiter thinks that we need to appeal to probability instead:
- Lassiter, D. (2017). Graded modality: Qualitative and quantitative perspectives, Oxford: OUP, esp. ch. 5.
Whereas Klecha thinks that only some modals are gradable and thus puts forward a hybrid approach:
- Klecha, P. (2012). Positive and conditional semantics for gradable modals. Proceedings of sinn und bedeutung, Vol. 16.
Week 8: Mini-conference
On-line guest: Adam Harwood :)
GROUP 1 (2.00-2.30): Degrees of Modality - Oxford
GROUP 2 (2.30-3.00): Causation & History - UCL
GROUP 3 (3.00-3.30): Degrees of Causation - Oxford
GROUP 4 (3.30-4.00): Dispositions - UCL
Thanks everyone for a great seminar!