Ideas of Stathis Psillos, by Theme

[Greek, b.1965, Formerly at the London School of Economics, then at the University of Athens]

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2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Traditionally, rational beliefs are those which are justified by reasons
5. Theory of Logic / K. Features of Logics / 10. Monotonicity
Valid deduction is monotonic - that is, it remains valid if further premises are added
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 8. Criterion for Existence
The 'epistemic fallacy' is inferring what does exist from what can be known to exist
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 5. Natural Properties
Scientific properties are defined by the laws that embody them
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
Powers are claimed to be basic because fundamental particles lack internal structure
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 4. Prediction
If we say where Mars was two months ago, we offer an explanation without a prediction
A good barometer will predict a storm, but not explain it
14. Science / C. Induction / 4. Reason in Induction
Induction (unlike deduction) is non-monotonic - it can be invalidated by new premises
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / a. Types of explanation
Explanation is either showing predictability, or showing necessity, or showing causal relations
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / d. Lawlike explanations
Just citing a cause does not enable us to understand an event; we also need a relevant law
The 'covering law model' says only laws can explain the occurrence of single events
If laws explain the length of a flagpole's shadow, then the shadow also explains the length of the pole
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / f. Causal explanations
There are non-causal explanations, most typically mathematical explanations
An explanation can just be a 'causal story', without laws, as when I knock over some ink
14. Science / D. Explanation / 4. Explanation Doubts / a. Explanation as pragmatic
Maybe explanation is entirely relative to the interests and presuppositions of the questioner
An explanation is the removal of the surprise caused by the event
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 9. Perceiving Causation
It is hard to analyse causation, if it is presupposed in our theory of the functioning of the mind
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 4. Is/Ought
Nothing is more usual than to apply to external bodies every internal sensation which they occasion
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / a. Causation
Causes clearly make a difference, are recipes for events, explain effects, and are evidence
Theories of causation are based either on regularity, or on intrinsic relations of properties
We can't base our account of causation on explanation, because it is the wrong way round
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / b. Types of cause
Three divisions of causal theories: generalist/singularist, intrinsic/extrinsic, reductive/non-reductive
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
If causation is 'intrinsic' it depends entirely on the properties and relations of the cause and effect
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. General Causation / b. Nomological causation
Empiricists tried to reduce causation to explanation, which they reduced to logic-plus-a-law
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. General Causation / c. Counterfactual causation
Counterfactual claims about causation imply that it is more than just regular succession
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 3. Laws and Generalities
"All gold cubes are smaller than one cubic mile" is a true universal generalisation, but not a law
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / a. Regularity theory
It is not a law of nature that all the coins in my pocket are euros, though it is a regularity
A Humean view of causation says it is regularities, and causal facts supervene on non-causal facts
Regularity doesn't seem sufficient for causation
The regularity of a cock's crow is used to predict dawn, even though it doesn't cause it
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / b. Best system theory
Laws are sets of regularities within a simple and strong coherent system of wider regularities
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism
Dispositional essentialism can't explain its key distinction between essential and non-essential properties
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 9. Counterfactual Claims
Counterfactual theories say causes make a difference - if c hadn't occurred, then e wouldn't occur
In some counterfactuals, the counterfactual event happens later than its consequent