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Causation in metaphysics and moral theory

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dc.contributor.advisor Edward Hall. en_US McGrath, Sarah, 1972- en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US 2009-01-30T18:37:49Z 2009-01-30T18:37:49Z 2002 en_US 2002 en_US
dc.identifier.uri en_US
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2002. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_US
dc.description.abstract Chapter 1: The causal relata. Ordinary talk suggests that entities from different ontological categories can cause and be caused: Kathy's throw, the fact that Kathy threw, and Kathy herself can all cause the window to break. But according to the majority view, causation exclusively relates events. This chapter defends the contrary view that the causal relata are as miscellaneous as ordinary talk suggests. A question remains: is there an ontological kind K such that causal relations on entities of that kind are somehow more fundamental than causal relations on the non-Ks? I argue that there is such a kind: facts. I defend this claim against objections. Chapter 2. Causation by omission. Ordinary talk also suggests that omissions can be causes. For example, if Barry promised to water Alice's plant, didn't water it, and the plant then dried up and died, then Barry's not watering the plant-his omitting to water the plant-is a cause of its death. But there are reasons to think that either there is no causation by omission, or there is far more of it than common sense allows. I argue that neither disjunct is acceptable, and propose that we avoid the dilemma by embracing the view that causation has a normative component. The proposal faces the objection that causation is a paradigmatic example of a natural, and so entirelynon-normative, relation. en_US
dc.description.abstract (cont.) I argue that the objection can be defused once we are clear about the kind of normativity that plays a role in causation by omission. Chapter 3. Causation and the Making/Allowing Distinction. Common sense morality suggests that it can matter morally whether an agent makes an outcome occur or merely allows it to occur. For example, it is far worse to pinch your little brother than to allow him to be pinched. I argue against the assumption that the making/allowing distinction is exclusive: in fact, the categories of making and allowing overlap. I go on to offer a positive account of makings, and a positive account of allowings. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Sarah McGrath. en_US
dc.format.extent 77 leaves en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US
dc.title Causation in metaphysics and moral theory en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 51869812 en_US

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