A Review of Lewis’s Counterfactual Theories of Causation
Lewis’s counterfactual (CF) theories of causation are certainly among the most well-known and influential conceptual analyses of causality. David Lewis famously offered two CF theories (or rather two versions of the same, underlying CF theory): Original CF analysis (1973) and Supplemented CF analysis of causation (1986). The aim of my talk is to provide an introductory presentation of these theories with an emphasis on their goals, motivation, problems, and prospects.
I will start by outlining the original CF theory (OCT)– as a theory about singular causation (primarily) in the deterministic world, with datable events as its relata and the CF dependence as its core concept. After that, I would try to highlight what motivates OCT and what makes it a promising analysis of causation. Having fully explicated the theory (by explaining away the early preemption and spurious causation problem), I will conclude that part of the talk by stressing the problems and counterexamples that led to abandoning OCT.
In the second part of the talk, I’ll turn to the aforementioned supplemented analysis of causation (SCT). Naturally, I am planning to present SCT by demonstrating how Lewis’s amendments to the theory (apparently) help avoid the problems faced by OCT. However, the conclusion of this segment of the talk is, yet again, a negative one. With clarification of commitments (about the nature of the causal relation) that those amendments bring into the theory, it will become clear that STC is still not an adequate and satisfactory theory of causation. Restrictions brought by quasi-causation (which depends on the causal relation being intrinsic) directly prohibit the negative causation cases within the theory – which (by own Lewisian standards) are supposed to be a merit of the theory (connected to the theoretical goals and its motivation).
I will conclude the presentation with brief comments about the prospects of CF analysis of causation, and strategies to make it work in spite of mentioned problems and obstacles.
The lecture starts on the 15th of April at 9:45 am
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