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
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
the pillar -------> my
box is red of the pillar box
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?
J. L. Speranza
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