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The Ontology of MindEvents, Processes, and States$
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Helen Steward

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250647.001.0001

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Particulars, Facts, and Causal Explanations

Particulars, Facts, and Causal Explanations

Chapter:
(p.135) 5 Particulars, Facts, and Causal Explanations
Source:
The Ontology of Mind
Author(s):

Helen Steward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250647.003.0006

This chapter argues that the distinction between particulars and facts is crucial to the understanding of the workings of our causal explanations; and that we need to recognize two rather different varieties of causal statement: ‘singular’ and ‘sentential’. The chapter attempts to explain the difference between the two kinds of explanation, and argues that the idea that token states must be recognized as a variety of causally efficacious particular stems from the existence of a certain class of sentential causal explanations in which the explanans is a stative predication. It is a mistake to think that these explanations have their basis in interactive or productive relationships in which token states figure. Rather, they involve us in commitment to causal relationships between facts and effects of various kinds. There is therefore no need at all to recognize token states as a class of particulars. In so far as the category is legitimate, the entities it subsumes are not particular but rather fact-like, hence the claim that events and states are not close relations but rather species very different from one another.

Keywords:   causal explanation, causal statements, causation, singular causal claim, sentential causal claim

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