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Higher seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Bram Vaassen (Umeå)


Date: Thursday 24 February 2022

Time: 13.15 – 15.00

Location: D700

Higher-Level Causes and Freaky Realizations


Building on observations by Fodor (1974, 1991), Schiffer (1991), and Hoefer (2004), Fenton-Glynn (2017) has recently argued that the possibility of thermodynamically abnormal realizations speaks in favour of probability-raising accounts of causation. Such ‘freaky’ realizations suggest that the main competitors of probability-raising accounts cannot allow for higher-level causes such as infections and hurricanes. By contrast, probability-raising accounts appear to have no problems allowing higher-level causation in the face of freaky realizations. In this talk, I push back against Fenton-Glynn’s case for probability-raising accounts and argue that sufficiency accounts (e.g., Mackie 1974, Bennett 2017, Vivhelin and Tomkow ms), counterfactual accounts (e.g., Lewis 1973, Loewer 2007, Albert 2015), and interventionist accounts (e.g., Woodward 2003) can all allow for higher-level causation in the face of freaky realizations. Contrary to appearances, such case will do little to help us decide between any of these accounts and a probability-raising view.