[hist-analytic] Causatives

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun May 24 07:27:22 EDT 2009


A few remarks on 'cause'. Since Grice loved Kiparsky/Kiparsky 'factive',  
I'm introducing the word with 'linguistic' resonance: 'causative'. The word 
is  old, and one cite in the OED goes:
 
"Lay is manifestly the causative of Lie."
        GILCHRIST, Etymol. Interp.  1824.
 
   (The other quotes refer to other languages).
 
My point: it seems that while Davidson aptly considers the analyticity of  
things like "the cause of A caused A", it strikes me that an account of  
causation has to cover cases where the word 'cause' is not even used. To echo  
Gilchrist, words like "lay". 
 
The other point concerns the mentioning of an author I forgot to mention in 
 "Hume is where the heart is", but which I think was operative in at least  
Grice's account of causation: H. L. A. Hart. His _Causation in the law_, a  
classic. Grice wants to (strictly) correct Hart. Hart seems to have 
overlooked  the fact that while it _is_ relevant that an 'event' needs to be 
noticeable to  care for its cause, that needs not be so. "The plant grows" allows 
an  explanation as much as "Why the plant dried." 
 
Considering the remark by S. Bayne on 'events' being either 'after' or  
'before' an event, I do wonder why 'consequentialism' is not more seriously  
developed in common speech. It seems a very practical thing to account for the 
 phenomenon in terms of its _effects_, rather than its _causes_. 
 
Davidson seems to be wanting to say that, for Hume, there is _something_  
*in* the event that must have 'priority' in terms of 'causal efficiency'. And 
 indeed. Davidson's campaign is the very introduction of _event_ as an  
ontological basic. But for Aristotelian it's spatio-temporal continuants. So  
Aristotelians like Romano Harre/Madden ("Causal Powers") it would be 
something  in the 'causative agent' and not necessarily the _event_. 
 
If the bridge collapsed because an agent wickedly bombed it, we know it's  
the _will_ of the agent that 'caused' it. Cfr. "The Bridge on the River", 
the  film. It seems Hume is rejecting not just the "necessity" of the causal 
link but  its dependence on 'other' fictions of a metaphysical kind: 'will', 
or  'substance' --. 
 
As for the 'necessity' itself, it may do to revise Burton-Roberts's  
"Modality and Implicature": the word 'contigent' (as in: all causal explantion  is 
_contingent_: no necessity need to be involved) is just as _modal_ as  
'necessary'.
 
When Grice wrote "The Causal Theory of Perception" he _knew_ what he was  
talking about. In "Meaning" (1948) he is already qualifying Stevenson  (1944) 
as providing a _causal_ theory of meaning itself. Grice never abandoned a  
causalistic approach. Sometimes he was criticised by scientifically-minded  
philosophers in 'dismissing' the details of a relevant causal explanation  
involved.
 
           the  pillar                  ------->                 my 
perception
           box is  red                                     of the pillar box
                                                                       as 
red
 
The link need not concern the philosopher, he writes in Section III of  
"Causal Theory": any filling of the gap will do. 
 
In 1967 he touched on 'causal theories' of knowledge when crediting Gettier 
 (without mentioning) with the counterexample to 'justified true belief'. 
If  'know' is _factive_ it should involve some time of 'causative'. If 'see' 
is  factive, it should involve some 'causative' -- allowing for loose uses: 
"Macbeth  didn't see Banquo: he wasn't there to be seen". "Still we can say 
he saw  him."
 
--- Later on he became inamoured of Aristotle's _final cause" (to heneka,  
to telos). And there is no way to understand Grice on finality (or 'end')  
without this idea of 'causative', I would think. If the _end_ matters it's  
because Aristotle was not being otiose in calling the 'telos' a type of cause 
 (aitia). This would render much of Davidson's fight to re-constitute 
'reasons'  as 'causes' as historically redundant?
 
Cheers,
 
J. L. Speranza



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