causal properties; dispositions; laws; special sciences; causation; philosophy of mind; philosophy of science; physics; psychology
Hubert Mario (2014), Anchoring causal connections in physical concepts, in Galavotti Maria Carla (ed.), Springer, Dordrecht, 501-509.
Esfeld Michael (2013), Reductionism today, in Galavotti Maria Carla (ed.), Springer, Cham, 89-101.
Esfeld Michael, Lazarovici Dustin, Hubert Mario, Dürr Detlef (2013), The ontology of Bohmian mechanics, in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
, 64, 19.
Esfeld Michael (2012), Causal realism, in Dennis Dieks et al. (ed.), Springer, Dordrecht, 157-168.
Esfeld Michael, Sachse Christian, Soom Patrice (2012), Marrying the merits of Nagelian reduction and functional reduction, in Acta Analytica
, 27(2), 217-230.
Sprickerhof Jakob, The conserved quantity theory of causation and entangled states, in Tilman Sauer (ed.), Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge, Berlin.
Esfeld Michael, Lazavorici Dustin, Lam Vincent, Hubert Mario, The physics and metaphysics of primitive stuff, in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
According to the causal theory of properties, it is essential for a property to play a certain causal role. In brief, insofar as properties are certain qualities, they are dispositions or powers to produce certain specific effects. Based on earlier SNF projects of the applicant, this project starts from recalling the main arguments for the causal theory of properties, applied to all properties, including the fundamental physical ones. These are purely metaphysical as well as scientific arguments.The central aim of the project is to enquire into the relationship between properties and laws of nature. There are two conflicting positions discussed in the current literature: according to the one position, conceiving the properties as being causal in themselves makes a realism about laws superfluous. According to the other position, laws supervene on or are derived from the properties, revealing what the properties can do. We shall side with the latter position and develop in the first place the following argument: causal properties (dispositions, powers) constitute the ontological ground floor. Nonetheless, we have a cognitive access to the properties only through the salient regularities which we observe, that is, only through our hypotheses about laws of nature. In other words, we discern the identity conditions of properties through the laws in which we take them to figure.Against this background, we shall work out how adopting a realist attitude towards laws paves the way for strengthening the connection between the causal theory of properties, which is a metaphysical position in the first place, and scientific practice. Laws are central to science, notably to fundamental science. The causal theory of properties answers the question where the laws of nature come from, instead of simply accepting them as primitive, namely as supervening on the fundamental dispositions or powers by revealing what they can do. No subjective criteria enter into this supervenience claim. By stating what the properties can do, the laws explain why the distribution of the fundamental properties develops in the way in which it develops in fact (causal explanation and explanation by unification), thereby taking the position of laws in scientific practice into account.The second aim of the project is to go into the issue of determinism and objective probabilities. Laws reveal the power to produce something that properties bestow on their bearers (objects or events). We will examine the significance of deterministic laws as well as probabilistic laws on this basis, going notably into the ontological grounding of the propensity theories of probabilities.The third aim is to link the philosophy of fundamental science with the philosophy of the special sciences as regards causal properties and laws. Drawing on the results of the first SNF ProDoc project of the applicant, we shall notably focus on the philosophy of psychology. Our intention is to make a case for realism with respect to the special sciences, including psychology, in the following manner: if the dispositions in which the special sciences trade do not have a categorical basis, but are identical with configurations of physical dispositions (causal properties), then we are in the position to firmly establish their reality. By the same token, we thereby have a basis for making a case for there really being laws in the special sciences and accounting for their specific character qua ceteris paribus laws.