Reconsidering Causal Powers: Historical and Conceptual Perspectives

ISBN : 9780198869528

Henrik Lagerlund; Benjamin Hill; Stathis Psillos
304 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Causal powers are returning to the forefront of realist philosophy of science. Once central features of philosophical thinking about the natures of substances and causes, they were banished during the early modern era and the Scientific Revolution. In this volume, distinguished scholars revisit the fortunes of causal powers as scientific explanatory principles within the theories of substance and cause across history. Each chapter focuses on the philosophical roles causal powers were thought to play at the time, and the reasons offered in support, or against, their coherence and ability to perform these roles. By placing rigorous philosophical analyses of thinking about causal powers within their historical contexts, features of their natures which might remain hidden to contemporary practitioners can be more readily identified and more carefully analyzed. The thoughts of such prominent philosophers as Aristotle, Scotus, Ockham, and Buridan are explored, then on through Suarez, Descartes, and Malebranche, to Locke and Hume, and ultimately to contemporary figures like the logical positivists Goodman and Lewis.


Benjamin Hill, Henrik Lagerlund, and Stathis Psillos: Introduction
1 Stathis Psillos: The Inherence and Directedness of Powers
2 Calvin G. Normore: Powers, Possibilities and Time: Notes for a Program
3 Henrik Lagerlund: Aristotelian Powers, Mechanism, and Final Causes in the Late Middle Ages
4 Deborah Brown: Agency, Force, and Inertia in Descartes and Hobbes
5 Benjamin Hill: The Ontological Status of Causal Powers: Substances, Modes, and Humeanism
6 Walter Ott: The Case Against Powers
7 Andreas Huttemann: The Return of Causal Powers?
8 Lisa Downing: Qualities, Powers, and Bare Powers in Locke
9 Peter Millican: Hume on Causation and Causal Powers
10 Jennifer McKitrick: Resurgent Powers and the Failure of Conceptual Analysis
11 Brian Ellis: Causal Powers and Structures
12 Howard Sankey: Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited

About the author: 

Henrik Lagerlund is Professor of the History of Philosophy at Stockholm University. He works primarily on medieval and renaissance philosophy, and has written several articles and books. He is the author of Skepticism in Philosophy: A Comprehensive, Historical Introduction (2020) and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Sixteenth Century Philosophy (2017) and editor of The Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy, second edition (2020). ; Benjamin Hill is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at The University of Western Ontario. His main areas of research are 16th and 17th metaphysics and epistemology, especially regarding the philosophy of mind and language. He is the editor-in-chief of Locke Studies and most recently the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Sixteenth Century Philosophy (2017) and Sourcebook in the History of Philosophy of Language (2017). ; Stathis Psillos is Professor of Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics at the University of Athens. He is an editor of Metascience and a founding member and former President of The European Philosophy of Science Association.

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