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Ideas of D.H. Mellor, by Text

[British, b.1938, Professor at Cambridge University.]

1991 Properties and Predicates
'Intro' p.255 There is obviously a possible predicate for every property
     Full Idea: To every property there obviously corresponds a possible predicate applying to all and only those particulars with that property.
     From: D.H. Mellor (Properties and Predicates [1991], 'Intro')
     A reaction: This doesn't strike me as at all obvious. If nature dictates the properties, there may be vastly more than any human language could cope with. It is daft to say that a property can only exist if humanity can come up with a predicate for it.
'Props' p.257 If properties were just the meanings of predicates, they couldn't give predicates their meaning
     Full Idea: One reason for denying that properties just are the meanings of our predicates is that, if they were, they could not give our predicates their meanings.
     From: D.H. Mellor (Properties and Predicates [1991], 'Props')
     A reaction: Neither way round sounds quite right to me. Predicate nominalism is wrong, but what is meant by a property 'giving' a predicate its meaning? It doesn't seem to allow room for error in our attempts to name the properties.
'Props' p.258 We need universals for causation and laws of nature; the latter give them their identity
     Full Idea: I take the main reason for believing in contingent universals to be the roles they play in causation and in laws of nature, and those laws are what I take to give those universals their identity.
     From: D.H. Mellor (Properties and Predicates [1991], 'Props')
     A reaction: He agrees with Armstrong. Sounds a bit circular - laws are built on universals, and universals are identified by laws. It resembles a functionalist account of mental events. I think it is wrong. A different account of laws will be needed...
'Props' p.259 Singular causation requires causes to raise the physical probability of their effects
     Full Idea: Singular causation entails physical probabilities or chances. ...Causal laws require causes to raise their effects' chances, as when fires have a greater chance of occurring when explosions do.
     From: D.H. Mellor (Properties and Predicates [1991], 'Props')
     A reaction: It seems fairly obvious that a probability can be increased without actually causing something. Just after a harmless explosion is a good moment for arsonists, especially if Mellor will be the investigating officer.
'Props' p.260 A property is merely a constituent of laws of nature; temperature is just part of thermodynamics
     Full Idea: Being a constituent of probabilistic laws of nature is all there is to being a property. There is no more to temperature than the thermodynamics and other laws they occur in.
     From: D.H. Mellor (Properties and Predicates [1991], 'Props')
     A reaction: How could thermodynamics be worked out without a prior concept of temperature? I think it is at least plausible to deny that there are any 'laws' of nature. But even Quine can't deny that some things are too hot to touch.
1995 The Facts of Causation
p.5 We might use 'facta' to refer to the truth-makers for facts
     Full Idea: Mellor offers a distinction between 'facts' and 'facta' (the latter being the truth-makers for facts).
     From: report of D.H. Mellor (The Facts of Causation [1995]) by Jonathan Schaffer - The Metaphysics of Causation 1.1
     A reaction: The idea is that 'facta' can do the work in causation, because 'facts' are not part of the world. This seems a very helpful terminology, which should be encouraged, since 'fact' is plainly ambiguous in current usage.
p.79 Causal statements relate facts (which are whatever true propositions express)
     Full Idea: Mellor argues that causal statements relate facts, where facts may be seen as whatever true propositions express.
     From: report of D.H. Mellor (The Facts of Causation [1995]) by Stathis Psillos - Causation and Explanation 2.6
     A reaction: Choose between 'facts', 'objects', 'conserved quantities, 'events' (the usual one) or 'processes'. I rather like processes (Salmon) as they are a better prospect as the building blocks of an ontology.
p.412 Probabilistic causation says C is a cause of E if it increases the chances of E occurring
     Full Idea: The basic idea of probabilistic causation is that a sufficient condition of C's being a cause of E is that C and E are actual, individual events, and the objective chance of E's occurring is greater given the occurrence of C than it would be without C.
     From: report of D.H. Mellor (The Facts of Causation [1995]) by Michael Tooley - Causation and Supervenience 5.3
     A reaction: Mellor has to include objective 'chances' in his ontology to support his theory. As it stands this looks like a weak theory, since the event might not occur despite C happening, and some less likely event might turn out to be the actual cause.