Metaphysics Seminar: Causation
Prof. Janet D. Stemwedel
Department of Philosophy, FOB 232
Office Hours: Monday 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, Thursday 10:00-11:45 AM, or by appointment.
Course website: http://www.stemwedel.org/causation.html
Causation is one of the core issues in metaphysics, and figuring out precisely what causation is – or even what we think it is – has been an enduring project for philosophers. In this seminar, we will consider classic philosophical accounts of cause and effect, as well as more recent developments in philosophy and other fields (such as developmental psychology, computer science, and law).
Essays. Each 10 pages long. One "critical", one "constructive". (More details will be distributed in class.)
a seminar meeting. Doing independent reading on a topic in causation
(consult instructor about appropriate topics, readings). Preparing handouts
for class (annotated bibliography of readings; key points and questions) and
giving a 20 minute presentation to the seminar.
Class participation. Dialogue and discussion will play an important role in our project of analyzing and assessing the central issues of the course raised in reading assignments and lectures. Therefore, I expect that you will come to class with your books, having done the readings and thought about the issues they raise before our class meetings, and ready to participate in all seminar activities.
Your marks on assignments will be converted to percentages (e.g., 15/20 = 75%) and used to compute letter grades as follows:
Academic Honesty. I expect you to be familiar with university policies on plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty. As well, I expect you to understand the difference between proper attribution of the words and ideas of others and plagiarism. If you do not understand the difference, please make an appointment with me to discuss proper attribution as soon as possible. Plagiarism or cheating will result in a failing grade in this course, and offenders may be subject to further administrative sanctions.
academic integrity statement from the Office of Judicial Affairs:
"Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San José State University, and the University's Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Judicial Affairs. The policy on academic integrity can be found at: "
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours.
Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the DRC to establish a record of their disability.
Ernest Sosa and Michael Tooley
(eds.), Causation (Oxford Readings in Philosophy)
James Woodward, Making
Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation
John Collins, Ned Hall, and
L.A. Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals
Additional readings will be available online.
Reading assignments are due on the dates for which they are listed.
Th-Aug. 24 FIRST CLASS; introductory remarks.
Hume, "Of the Idea of a Necessary Connexion"
Mackie, "Causes and Conditions" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Lewis, "Causation" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Anscombe, "Causality and Determination" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Ducasse, "On the Nature and Observability of the Causal Relation" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Salmon, "Causality: Production and Propagation" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Salmon, "Probabilistic Causality" (in Sosa and Tooley)
Russell, "On the Notion of a Cause"
Stemwedel, [Chapter 6]
Mackie, "The Concept of Causation – Conditional Analyses"
Lewis, "Postscripts to 'Causation'"
Schaffer, "Trumping Preemption" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Lewis, "Causation as Influence" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Hall, "Causation and the Price of Transitivity" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Paul, "Aspect Causation" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Hall, "Two Concepts of Causation" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Lewis, "Void and Object" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Beebee, "Causing and Nothingness" (in Collins, Hall, and Paul)
Woodward, Chapter 1, "Introduction and Preview"
Woodward, Chapter 2, "Causation and Manipulation"
Woodward, Chapter 3, "Intervention, Agency, and Counterfactuals"
Th-Nov. 3 RESEARCH DAY (Class will not meet.)
SPECIAL TOPICS 1
SPECIAL TOPICS 2
Th-Nov. 23 THANKSGIVING (Class will not meet.)
SPECIAL TOPICS 3
SPECIAL TOPICS 4