Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Introduction to Causation With A Human Face

Stephen Downes

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The goal of science is to find underlying causes and natural laws. But what if there are no underlying causes? That's the question philosophy has been wrestling with for 300 years. This article suggests that "causal reasoning should be understood in 'functional' terms– that is in terms of the role that it plays in human life and the human goals and purposes that it serves." It's the sort of principle in light of David Hume's characterization of causation as a 'useful fiction' we create to explain things to each other. And it's distinct from what might be called an 'interventionist' account of causation, where it's a principle we appeal to in the name of 'making things happen'.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: Jul 25, 2024 09:38 a.m.

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