Prof. Max Kistler (Univ. Paris): Causality in a Physical World?

Datum / Uhrzeit:
29.01.19   /  18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Theoretische Philosophie

24.53.01 Raum 81



Most philosophers of physics are eliminativists about causation. Following Bertrand Russell’s lead, they think that causation is a folk concept that cannot be rationally reconstructed within a worldview informed by contemporary physics. Against this thesis, I argue that physics can contribute to shaping the concept of causation, in two ways. 1. Special relativity is a physical theory that expresses causal constraints. 2. The physical concept of a conserved quantity can be used in the functional reduction of the folk notion of causation. In order to show that physics provides means to elaborate the concept of causation it is important to avoid certain misunderstandings. In particular, the claim that there is causation in a physical world does not mean that causation is an additional ingredient of the “furniture” of the world, over and above the ingredients identified by physics.



Max Kistler is professor at the department of philosophy at université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and member of IHPST (Institut d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences et des techniques). His research topics include causation, powers and dispositions, laws of nature, natural kinds, and reduction. He is the author of Causation and Laws of Nature (Routledge, 2006), L’esprit matériel. Réduction et émergence (Ithaque, 2016), co-author (with A. Bar-berousse et P. Ludwig), of La philosophie des sciences au XXe siècle, Flammarion, 2000, co-editor (with B. Gnassounou) of Dispositions and Causal Powers (Ashgate, 2007),  editor of special issues of Philosophie (Causalité, 2006), Synthese (New Perspectives on Reduction and Emergence in Physics, Biology, and Psychology, 2006), Philosophical Psychology (Cognition and Neurophysiology: Mechanism, Reduction, and Pluralism, 2009), Synthese (New Trends in the Metaphysics of Science, 2018).


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