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The Divine Order, the Human Order, and the Order of NatureHistorical Perspectives$
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Eric Watkins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199934409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199934409.001.0001

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Malebranche’s Causal Concepts

Malebranche’s Causal Concepts

Chapter:
(p.67) { 4 } Malebranche’s Causal Concepts
Source:
The Divine Order, the Human Order, and the Order of Nature
Author(s):

Robert Merrihew Adams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199934409.003.0004

In this chapter, Robert Adams offers a sophisticated interpretation of the complex causal notions that are involved in Malebranche's occasionalism. Specifically, Adams argues that Malebranche is best understood as holding that God is a genuine cause of non-miraculous events solely by a general volition, where the specific effect follows from the causal efficacy that is attributed to the laws of nature. Further, Adams argues against understanding Malebranche to be defining a genuine cause in terms of the perception of a necessary connection, since necessary connections are neither sufficient for genuine causality, nor the only necessary condition for a genuine cause, since such a cause must also act by its own efficacy. Adams then shows how careful descriptions of the power of freely self-determining action and inclinations can be used to explain how Malebranche accounts for free will without contradicting his occasionalism; since the power to consent or to refrain from consenting is neither a genuine nor an occasional cause, no inconsistency arises with occasionalism, and since inclinations are dispositions rather than free acts, they can have a genuine cause in God.

Keywords:   Malebranche, occasionalism, general volition, particular volition, laws of nature, free will, genuine cause

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