Counterfactuals and counterparts: defending a neo-Humean theory of causation

McDonnell, Neil (2015) Counterfactuals and counterparts: defending a neo-Humean theory of causation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Whether there exist causal relations between guns firing and people dying, between pedals pressed and cars accelerating, or between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, is typically taken to be a mind-independent, objective, matter of fact. However, recent contributions to the literature on causation, in particular theories of contrastive causation and causal modelling, have undermined this central causal platitude by relativising causal facts to models or to interests. This thesis flies against the prevailing wind by arguing that we must pay greater attention to which elements of our causal talk vary with context and which elements track genuine features of the world around us. I will argue that once these elements are teased apart we will be in a position to better understand some of the most persistent problems in the philosophy of causation: pre-emption cases, absence causation, failures of transitivity and overdetermination. The result is a naturalist account of causation, concordant with the contextual variability we find in our ordinary causal talk, and parsimonious with respect to the theoretical entities posited.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Counterfactuals, counterparts, causation, Lewis, pre-emption, overdetermination, events, absence causation, transitivity, contrastive causation, causal modelling.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Leuenberger, Dr. Stephan and Smith, Dr. Martin and Menzies, Professor Peter
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mr Neil L T McDonnell
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6183
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2015 11:30
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2015 11:51

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