Friday, May 31, 2013

Reasons vs. Causes (again)

Thinking about this last night before bed, it seems to me that there's a simple response to those who would argue for statism and against factualism on the grounds that reasons are causes.   

P1. Causes have to have to be fully determinate, fully specific entities. 
P2. Reasons cannot be fully determinate, fully specific entities.
C. Reasons cannot be causes.

The motivation for P1 might initially seem a bit obscure since some authors (e.g., Mellor) have argued that facts can be causes.  Remember, however, that we're looking at an argument that's an argument against those who have already decided that facts cannot be causes, presumably on the grounds that they are not concrete.  

As for the motivation for P2, the idea is that the rational role of reasons requires an entity that's graspable.  Facts, propositions, and states by virtue of the fact that their natures seem to be determined entirely and exhaustively by the way they are canonically picked out linguistically.  Whereas causes have to satisfy Steward's 'secret life requirement', reasons cannot have secret lives upon pain of failing to be a graspable.

This is all back of the envelope stuff, but I think it's a start.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your P1 and P2, using "fully determinate" and "can't be fully determinate" conditions, suggest that they operate in an axiomatic domain which has a fully defined (and therefore static) descriptive completeness. Otherwise, the "causes" and "reasons" must be the same. A good example of such equality exists in an emerging RNA virus system which constantly mutates in response to also emerging mutation triggers. (I won't even mention the quantum mechanics.)