Thursday, September 23, 2010

Causality, Intrinsic Connection, and Necessity

So the view which denies any intrinsic connection to causality and reduces it to conjunction is false. There must be some intrinsic connection. And the insight that between cause and effect there is an intrinsic connection shows that it's also a necessary connection.

If the meaning of 'same cause, same effect', which is the principle of all inductive causal argument, is taken as expressing conjunction only, no evidence or argument for it are possible. And if it's accepted anyway, it's because we have an insight that is felt to justify it.

Think of a state of affairs in which there is causation but no uniformity. Everything now has a cause, but the causes vary. Everything produces effects, but the effects vary. The blow of the hammer sinks the nail today, but tomorrow under the same conditions, it does not, and produces instead the Melody in F or a case of measles in Kiev. We can talk that way, but we can't think that way, because to say this implies that when a produces x, the nature of had nothing to do with the result. Taht result could equally have appeared if nothing resembling a had been on the scene. Therefore, to say that anything may produce anything is to render the word "produce" meaningless. If a, because of its nature, had no constraining influence, there is no reason to say it produced anything. It is a thing of special character. This character makes it what it is. And we would be talking idly if we said that it produced something when this character was not engaged in any way.

To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is. For the causal relation which connects a with x connects a cause of the nature a with an effect of the nature x, and therefore must hold between any and any x.
When is said to produce x because of its nature as a, the connection referred to is not only an intrinsic relation but a necessary relation. First, reflection shows that necessity is part of our meaning when we call such relations intrinsic. If we lay down a yellow card, then to the right of it an orange card, and to the right of that a red one, they have spatial relations to each other, but those relations are not prima facie intrinsic, because as far as we can see there is nothing about a card of one color as such to demand space relations to cards of other colors.

Furthermore, regarded as mere color, orange comes between red and yellow. And that relation is intrinsic in the present sense, since it is determined by the natures of the three colors. But it's also necessary. Yellow, orange, and red being what they are, orange must come between the other two, and could not possibly fall elsewhere. And this is the case with all relation that turn on the content or character of the terms.

Necessity is not seen with equal purity or clearness in all such cases, but whenever a relation depends on a's being what it is, we see that the relation is necessary whether we can isolate the nexus or not. For example, whether the tendency to gratitude follows from the nature of modesty we may not be sure, but if we are, we are certain that modesty must carry with it this tendency. In fact, to say that something follows from the nature of a, but not necessarily, is meaningless.

And this is necessity in the logical sense. To say that a produces x in virtue of being a, and yet that, given ax might not follow, is inconsistent with the laws of identity and contradiction. Of course if a were a cluster of qualities abstracted from their relations, and its modes of causal behavior were another set of qualities conjoined with the former externally, then one could deny the externally conjoined qualities and retain the relationally abstracted qualities consistently.

But when we say a causes x, we do not mean that kind of conjunction. We mean an intrinsic relation, that is, a relation in which a's behavior is the outgrowth or expression of a's nature. And to assert that a's behavior, could be different while a was the same, would be to assert that something both did and did not come from the nature of a, which is self-contradictory.

That statement would also conflict with the law of identity. It implies that a thing may remain itself when you have taken away from it everything which it is such as to be and do. To strip it of these things would be to strip it of what makes it what it is, that is, to say that it is other than it is.

You're confusing two different statements:
A has some causal property because it has it.
A must have some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A.
The first statement is a truism, but the second one is not obviously true, and can even be frequently false.
You're either saying the first statement, which is trivial, or the second statement, which begs the question.
I'm not making the first statement because I hold that in 'A causes B' I do not assert merely that B accompanies A, but that it does so because of A's nature.

And I'm not making the second statement. Even if I were, no begging of the question would be involed.

"A has some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A"

asserts a material implication:

"A has some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A"

is equivalent to the assertion that it is not the case that

"A has some causal property"
is true while
"Anything that does not have that property must be other than A"
is false.
But this is not saying merely that A has some property and that X's not having that property entails its not being A. It is saying that A has that property because of its nature as A, so that it entails and is not merely accompanied by, the truth of this second assertion.

But aside from this point, there is no begging the question. To say that A produces something because of its nature as A entails the statement that X's not having that property entails its not bieng A. It would be absurd to deny this.

The statement that anything produces anything because of its nature must be questionbegging.
But in that case it's question-begging to adopt any position on any issue. When we consider what we mean by saying A causes B or has the property of causing B, part of the meaning is that A acts in this way or has this property because of its nature. Therefore, the statement is not question-begging.


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