This chapter, which examines views about abortion and death, discusses claims about abortion and explains some ways for considering these claims to be true. It analyzes whether abortion causes the death of a fetus and whether bringing death to a fetus greatly harms it, also discussing the relevant issues of nonsentient fetus, intermediate judgment argument, and the unequal harm of death judgment.
This chapter discusses Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s theory of the actual world as the best of all possible worlds. The chapter opens with Leibniz’s response to the two most basic questions of metaphysics: Why is there something rather than nothing? And, why do certain things exist while other equally possible things do not? It examines Leibniz’s critique of Baruch Spinoza’s metaphysics, with particular reference to the argument that God must make a choice among possible worlds because not all possibles are “compossible.” In addition, it explores Leibniz’s claim that the best of all possible worlds is the world containing the highest level of perfection or reality, intelligibility, order, and harmony. The chapter concludes by looking at three theological doctrines underlying Leibniz’s conception of the best of all possible worlds: divine creation, conservation, and concurrence.
James F. Woodward
Agency and interventionist theories of causation take as their point of departure a common-sense idea about the connection between causation and manipulation: causal relationships are relationships that are potentially exploitable for purposes of manipulation and control. Very roughly, if C causes E then if C were to be manipulated in the right way, there would be an associated change in E. Conversely, if there would be a change in E, were the right sort of manipulation of C to occur, then C causes E. Accounts of causation in this vein have been defended by Collingwood, Gasking, and others. Similar ideas are defended by many social scientists and by some statisticians and theorists of experimental design.
This article provides an overview of recent agent-causal theories, explaining what motivates them to postulate an “ontologically primitive” notion of causation by an agent or substance that is not reducible to ordinary modes of event-causation. It considers different accounts of the agent-causal view which have been defended by libertarians. It also poses the question whether agent-causal theories require a substance dualism of mind and body since they posit a causal relation between an agent and action irreducible to ordinary modes of causation. It argues that agent-causal theories do not necessarily require substance dualism, but may require causal powers and properties that are ontologically emergent.
S. Marc Cohen
Aristotle's Physics is a study of nature (phusis) and of natural objects (ta phusei). According to him, these objects—either all of them or at least some of them—are in motion. That is, they are kinoumena, things that are subject to change. The first book of the Physics is largely devoted to this task. The account of substantial change in the Physics is devoid of any commitment to prime matter. Aristotle also takes up the topics of alteration and coming-to-be in De Generatione et Corruptione. He adopts a kind of conservation principle: “the corruption of one thing is the generation of another, and vice versa.” In addition, Aristotle points out that all changes involve both a subject (hupokeimenon) and an attribute (pathos) of a sort which can be predicated of the subject, and says that either one of these is capable of “change” (metabolê).
This article discusses objections to all three kinds of libertarian theory. It first reprises and further develops criticisms of noncausalist and event-causal (EC) libertarian theories. It argues that libertarian theories of both kinds face as yet unresolved problems including issue about luck and control, the requirements of intentional action, and the role of psychological causes in free agency. It then turns to agent-causal theories. It explains reasons for doubting the possibility of “causation by an enduring substance, which does not consist in causation by events involving that substance” (such as agent-causal theorists propose), and concludes on a skeptical note about the viability of libertarian accounts of free will generally.
There are various motives for refining the notion of cause. Aristotle's was an interest in providing the most informative and illuminating method of explaining the central natural phenomena of his universe. A different sort of motive is created by problems of free will and responsibility, of which readers may have been reminded by the reference to indeterminism. The thought that our free and responsible behaviour is caused by factors over which we have no control has often seemed impossible to accept and impossible to reject. The challenge then is to refine the notion of cause either so that the thought becomes more acceptable or so that it becomes more rejectable.
John W. Carroll
Anti-reductionism is the view that causation cannot be analysed non-nomically and, further, that causation still resists analysis even when the non-causal, nomic concepts are made available. In other words, the anti-reductionist maintains that there can be no non-causal analysis of causation. Indeed, some anti-reductionists hold that causation does not supervene on the non-causal facts. This article is an overview and defence of anti-reductionism. It locates anti-reductionism relative to some possible companion doctrines and recounts the development of anti-reductionism.
In Physics, Aristotle starts his positive account of the infinite by raising a problem: “[I]f one supposes it not to exist, many impossible things result, and equally if one supposes it to exist.” His views on time, extended magnitudes, and number imply that there must be some sense in which the infinite exists, for he holds that time has no beginning or end, magnitudes are infinitely divisible, and there is no highest number. In Aristotle's view, a plurality cannot escape having bounds if all of its members exist at once. Two interesting, and contrasting, interpretations of Aristotle's account can be found in the work of Jaako Hintikka and of Jonathan Lear. Hintikka tries to explain the sense in which the infinite is actually, and the sense in which its being is like the being of a day or a contest. Lear focuses on the sense in which the infinite is only potential, and emphasizes that an infinite, unlike a day or a contest, is always incomplete.
Aristotle's categorial scheme had an unparalleled effect not only on his own philosophical system, but also on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the Western tradition. The set of doctrines in the Categories, known as categorialism, play, for instance, a central role in Aristotle's discussion of change in the Physics, in the science of being qua being in the Metaphysics, and in the rejection of Platonic ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics. Plainly, the enterprise of categorialism inaugurated by Aristotle runs deep in the philosophical psyche. Even so, despite its wide-reaching influence—and, indeed owing to that influence—any attempt to describe categorialism faces a significant difficulty: experts disagree on many of its most important and fundamental aspects. This article argues that Aristotle's categorial scheme, as is the case with many works in the history of philosophy, is best illuminated by opposing beams of interpretive light. It examines how Aristotle arrived at his list of categories and considers the connection between Aristotle's categories and his hylomorphism.