File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9807, message 6

Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 17:06:50 -0400
Subject: Re: BHA: Causal powers of absence - are they real?


>For example, i do not believe that one can claim, as Louis did, that the
>absence of liberty is causally efficacious.  Cattle in a corral lack liberty,
>but there is no revolt.  This sort of teleology of absence seem to me to be
>mistaken.  Leading toward, for example, Hegelian illicit teleology of
>or Marxian illicit teleology of socialism.

I plead innocent - I don't know from teleology!  First of all, I claimed 
merely that the absence of liberty was causally efficacious in producing the 
slave revolt.  I did not say that the absence of liberty, wherever it 
occurs, is bound to cause a revolt.  I nowhere gave a suggestion of such a 
silly determinism.  In RB's terms, I appealed to ubiquity determinism (every 
event has causes), not to regularity determinism (events of a given type are 
always follwed by effects of a related type).

Second, in saying that something is causally efficacious, it does not
follow that the thing is the EXCLUSIVE cause of the result, because there
may be other contributing causes, all of which are causally efficacious.
In the Spartacus example, I did not intend anyone to think that the absence
of liberty was the exclusive cause of the slave revolt.  I claim the
absence of liberty is causally potent in the case, although it is not the
only thing that is causally potent.  

Now you go on to defend the necessity of absence based on second-order 
arguments.  I certainly don't have a problem with that.  Still, if the 
argument is good, then can't someone produce an example where absences are 
causally potent?  I'm not saying we have to prove the necessity of absence 
by producing such examples.  I'm just saying that we ought to be able to 
give examples of where absence was in reality causally efficacious in some
specific case.

Now I am willing to agree that, as you say, you say "we can 
(transcendentally) come to know absences are causal efficacious, without 
necessarily being able to provide a criteria for determining the causal 
efficacy of any particular absence or set of absences."  But that is a 
different matter.  It is one thing to say we can't give a rule for 
determining when an absence is causally efficacious.  It is another thing to 
say we can't produce an example where an absence was causally efficacious.  
Your claim pertains to regularity determinism.  My request for an example 
(actually I tried to give several) pertains to ubiquity determinism.

Louis Irwin

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