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  1. Aristotle on Causality
  2. Causality and Explanation Research Papers - naficaseardi.tk
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  4. Causality and Explanation
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In this In this article I offer a modest tribute to this great methodologist of science. This paper tackles the uses of explanation in theoretical sciences. In particular it is concerned with the possibility of causal explanations in physics. What I intend to do is to focus on the issue of whether the explanation of Kepler's empirical laws of the planetary motions can be a causal explanation. More specifically my point is: can the deductive subsumption of Kepler's 3rd Law also known as Kepler's law under theoretical principles provide a causal explanation for the planetary motions?

My answer is a definitive no. As a matter of fact, on occasions subsumptions occur under differing theoretical principles that are incompatible with one another. I such cases we would have incompatible scientific explanations. This is precisely the situation facing the scientific explanation of Kepler's laws, in particular the third law.

Since there exist incompatible gravitational theories, it is impossible for the scientific account of Kepler's law to be a causal explanation of the planetary motions. This is just one example of the difficulties faced by causal explanations in sciences such as theoretical physcis. This paper deals with the question of whether Kant's transcendental idealism allows for an explanation of the a posteriori aspects of mental content by the properties of empirical objects. I first show that a phenomenalist interpretation I first show that a phenomenalist interpretation has severe problems with assuming that we perceive an object as being red or as being cubical partly because the perceived object is red and cubical, and then present an interpretation that allows us to save the realistic intuition behind these claims.

According to this interpretation, Kantian phenomenal properties are understood as response-dependent properties of extra-mental objects that also have to have some response-independent in-itself- properties. I show that this interpretation is well supported by Kant's remarks about the transcendental object in the A-edition of the first Critique and that it also makes intelligible why Kant took explanations of mental content by means of empirical properties to imply an explanation by means of nouminal properties without thereby violating his own doctrine of noumenal ignorance.

This allows us to discern the true kernel in Adickes' infamous talk about Kant's theory of double affection. Innovation and Explanation. The two fundamental tasks of theoretical science. The main purpose of this article is to present the idea that science not only does account for the facts of experience but also for theoretical innovation, which is equally important.

CRITICAL THINKING - Fundamentals: Correlation and Causation

Indeed, contemporary science, particularly physics, The double way in which theoretical innovation can occur, namely, at the intra-theoretical level and at the inter-theoretical level, allows me to see that also the scientific explanation can be intra-theoretical and inter-theoretical. Each Aristotelian science consists in the causal investigation of a specific department of reality. If successful, such an investigation results in causal knowledge; that is, knowledge of the relevant or appropriate causes.

The emphasis on the concept of cause explains why Aristotle developed a theory of causality which is commonly known as the doctrine of the four causes.

For Aristotle, a firm grasp of what a cause is, and how many kinds of causes there are, is essential for a successful investigation of the world around us. As will become clear in due course, Aristotle is committed to a form of causal pluralism Stein — For Aristotle, there are four distinct and irreducible kinds of causes.

The focus of this entry is on the systematic interrelations among these four kinds of causes. Aristotle was not the first thinker to engage in a causal investigation of the world around us. From the very beginning, and independently of Aristotle, the investigation of the natural world consisted in the search for the relevant causes of a variety of natural phenomena.

Both in the Physics and in the Metaphysics Aristotle places himself in direct continuity with this tradition.

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Aristotle on Causality

At the beginning of the Metaphysics , Aristotle offers a concise review of the results reached by his predecessors Metaph. I 3—7. From this review we learn that all his predecessors were engaged in an investigation that eventuated in knowledge of one or more of the following causes: material, formal, efficient and final cause.

However, Aristotle makes it very clear that all his predecessors merely touched upon these causes Metaph.

Causality and Explanation Research Papers - naficaseardi.tk

That is to say, they did not engage in their causal investigation with a firm grasp of these four causes. They lacked a complete understanding of the range of possible causes and their systematic interrelations. Put differently, and more boldly, their use of causality was not supported by an adequate theory of causality. According to Aristotle, this explains why their investigation, even when it resulted in important insights, was not entirely successful.

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This insistence on the doctrine of the four causes as an indispensable tool for a successful investigation of the world around us explains why Aristotle provides his reader with a general account of the four causes. In the Posterior Analytics , Aristotle places the following crucial condition on proper knowledge: we think we have knowledge of a thing only when we have grasped its cause APost. That proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause is repeated in the Physics : we think we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause Phys.

Needless to say, not all why-questions are requests for an explanation that identifies a cause, let alone a cause in the particular sense envisioned by Aristotle.

Causality and Explanation

Still, Aristotle is clearly committed to the view that giving the relevant cause or causes is necessary and sufficient for offering a scientific explanation. His conception of a cause has both a metaphysical and an epistemological component. Part of the challenge for us is to do justice to both components.

This account is general in the sense that it applies to everything that requires an explanation, including artistic production and human action. Here Aristotle recognizes four kinds of things that can be given in answer to a why-question:. All the four kinds of causes may enter in the explanation of something. Consider the production of an artifact like a bronze statue. The bronze enters in the explanation of the production of the statue as the material cause. Note that the bronze is not only the material out of which the statue is made; it is also the subject of change, that is, the thing that undergoes the change and results in a statue.


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The bronze is melted and poured in order to acquire a new shape, the shape of the statue. This shape enters in the explanation of the production of the statue as the formal cause. However, an adequate explanation of the production of a statue requires also a reference to the efficient cause or the principle that produces the statue. For Aristotle, this principle is the art of bronze-casting the statue Phys.

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This result is mildly surprising and requires a few words of elaboration. There is no doubt that the art of bronze-casting resides in an individual artisan who is responsible for the production of the statue.

2. Probability and Induction

According to Aristotle, however, all the artisan does in the production of the statue is the manifestation of specific knowledge. This knowledge, not the artisan who has mastered it, is the salient explanatory factor that one should pick as the most accurate specification of the efficient cause Phys. By picking the art, not the artisan, Aristotle is not just trying to provide an explanation of the production of the statue that is not dependent upon the desires, beliefs and intentions of the individual artisan; he is trying to offer an entirely different type of explanation—namely, an explanation that does not make a reference implicit or explicit to these desires, beliefs and intentions.

More directly, the art of bronze-casting the statue enters in the explanation as the efficient cause because it helps us to understand what it takes to produce the statue; that is to say, what steps are required to produce the statue. But can an explanation of this type be given without a reference to the final outcome of the production, the statue? A model is made for producing the statue. A mold is prepared for producing the statue. The bronze is melted and poured for producing the statue. Both the prior and the subsequent stage are for the sake of a certain end, the production of the statue.

Clearly, the statue enters in the explanation of each step of the artistic production as the final cause or that for the sake of which everything in the production process is done. In thinking about the four causes, we have come to understand that Aristotle offers a teleological explanation of the production of a bronze statue; that is to say, an explanation that makes a reference to the telos or end of the process. Moreover, a teleological explanation of the type sketched above does not crucially depend upon the application of psychological concepts such as desires, beliefs and intentions.

This is important because artistic production provides Aristotle with a teleological model for the study of natural processes, whose explanation does not involve beliefs, desires, intentions or anything of this sort. Some have objected that Aristotle explains natural process on the basis of an inappropriately psychological teleological model; that is to say, a teleological model that involves a purposive agent who is somehow sensitive to the end.

This objection can be met if the artistic model is understood in non-psychological terms.