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David asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 7 years ago

Counterfactual Theories of Causation?

Can someone explain in reasonably simple terms the basic idea of counterfactual theories of causation.

4 Answers

  • 7 years ago
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    I have read David K. Lewis' profound work on counterfactuals (called Counterfactuals, actually).

    My sense is that counterfactualism grapples with the two primary forces of a posteriori and what Lewis I believe calls a priori experiences, in an unconventional usage. These are identical with what some call ontological and deontological conditions (of reality), which are also forwards and backwards aspects of time.

    Does Lewis do anything original with ontology or deontology? Some intellectuals have observed that Lewis is doing little more than elaborating a 'theory' of reality, which depends on the ASSUMPTION that multiple dimensions exist to explain alternate points of view. Under this view, Lewis is not standing on anything more than what theological theorists are standing on when they give a metaphysical theory.

    With that said, I will try to clarify the core of the answer to your question (if I have not answered it already).

    Lewis brings up numerous examples like black swans and colorless flamingoes to illustrate the difference between categories or truth-conditions called counterfactuals, between different 'universes' (or 'multiverses'). The example most familiar in the case of causation is the example of Murdering the Grandfather. Apparently it's impossible, and Lewis believes this illustrates that there are objective structures of ontology and deontology. However, for the most part he leaves the implications unresolved, saying that there is 'something to know' but that he cannot 'resolve them so quickly in so concise a way'.

    I hope I have resolved some of the concerns you have. Lewis did not address causality as explcitly as some might like in the one major text of his that I read. Meanwhile, Lewis has passed away, so I'm afraid his contribution to philosophy was ironically rather generic (considering he taught at Harvard).

    I may add that I doubt you will find a better answer in so concise a form from anyone else.

  • 7 years ago

    The only way that you can believe any theory of 'causality', is by ignoring the 'facts' as presented by quantum mechanics!

    All 'theories of causation' are counterfactual!

    'Cause' and 'effect' is a clumsy way to say two mutually arising opposite Perspectives of the same (event) One (unchanging, ALL inclusive) Reality!

    "For every Perspective, there is an equal and opposite Perspective!" - The First Law of Soul Dynamics (Book of Fudd)

  • 7 years ago

    causes become effects and effects become causes?

    would you have us to believe in theoretical abstract-idealism , a non-causal- reality; rather than reason and existence?

    here is a link to the lotus sutra which explains the law of causation in buddhist religion/philosophy.

    lotus sutra: chapter 2

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