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Causal necessitarianism and the monotonicity objection

ContributorsHireche, Salim
Published inSynthese, 31
Publication date2020
Abstract

Do causes necessitate their effects? Causal necessitarianism (CN) is the view that they do. One major objection — the “monotonicity objection” — runs roughly as follows. For many particular causal relations, we can easily find a possible “blocker” — an additional causal factor that, had it also been there, would have prevented the cause from producing its effect. However — the objection goes on —, if the cause really necessitated its effect in the first place, it would have produced it anyway — despite the blocker. Thus, CN must be false. Though different from Hume's famous attacks against CN, the monotonicity objection is no less important. In one form or another, it has actually been invoked by various opponents to CN, past and present. And indeed, its intuitive appeal is quite powerful. Yet, this paper argues that, once carefully analysed, the objection can be resisted — and should be. First, I show how its success depends on three implicit assumptions concerning, respectively, the notion of cause, the composition of causal factors, and the relation of necessitation. Second, I present general motivations for rejecting at least one of those assumptions: appropriate variants of them threaten views that even opponents to CN would want to preserve — in particular, the popular thesis of grounding necessitarianism. Finally, I argue that the assumption we should reject is the one concerning how causes should be understood: causes, I suggest, include an element of completeness that excludes blockers. In particular, I propose a way of understanding causal completeness that avoids common difficulties.

Keywords
  • Causation
  • Necessitation
  • Grounding
  • Blockers
  • Totality Facts
Citation (ISO format)
HIRECHE, Salim. Causal necessitarianism and the monotonicity objection. In: Synthese, 2020, p. 31. doi: 10.1007/s11229-020-02902-x
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ISSN of the journal0039-7857
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