Ideas of R.D. Ingthorsson, by Theme

[Swedish, fl. 2021, Professor at University of Helsinki.]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     unexpand these ideas    |    
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Metaphysics can criticise interpretations of science theories, and give good feedback
     Full Idea: Metaphysics is capable of critical scrutiny of the way the empirical sciences make sense of their own theories, and can provide them with very useful feedback.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1.9)
     A reaction: I agree with this, but I don't think it is the main job of metaphysics, which has its own agenda, using science as some of its raw material.
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 5. First-Order Logic
Philosophers accepted first-order logic, because they took science to be descriptive, not explanatory
     Full Idea: First-order predicate logic was accepted so easily by the philosophical community …because philosophy was already geared toward a neo-Humean view of both science and philosophy as primarily descriptive rather than explanatory.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1.8)
     A reaction: The point, I think, is that explanatory thinking needs second-order logic, where the properties (or powers) are players in the game, and not just adjuncts of the catalogue of objects. I find this idea mind-expanding. (That's a good thing).
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 2. Processes
Basic processes are said to be either physical, or organic, or psychological
     Full Idea: Process philosophy is considered to include ideas of process as basically physical (Whitehead 1929), as basically organic (Bergson 1910), and as basically psychological (James 1890).
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 7.4)
     A reaction: I take Whitehead to be the only serious contender here.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Realism
Indirect realists are cautious about the manifest image, and prefer the scientific image
     Full Idea: The indirect realist regards the manifest image with scepticism and contrasts it to the scientific image.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 8.13)
     A reaction: This is why indirect realism is the best view for a realist who largely accepts the authority of science, Philosophers can wallow in the manifest image all they like (and most of them seem to love it), but truth is in the scientific image.
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 1. Nature of Relations
Neo-Humeans say there are no substantial connections between anything
     Full Idea: Neo-Humean metaphysics holds the view that there are no substantial connections between anything in this world.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1)
     A reaction: A very illuminating comment. This exactly fits Lewis's great 'mosaic' of facts. The challenge is to say what 'substantial' relations there might be, but I'm quite happy to have a go at that.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 3. Types of Properties
Properties are said to be categorical qualities or non-qualitative dispositions
     Full Idea: It is said that that properties divide into two mutually exclusive types—non-dispositional qualities (sometimes called 'categorical properties’) vs. non-qualitative dispositions—of which the qualities are more fundamental than dispositions.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 8)
     A reaction: It is standardly understood that the qualitative categorical properties are more fundamental. Fans of powers (such as Ingthorsson and myself) either favour the dispositional properties, or reject the distinction.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
Physics understands the charge of an electron as a power, not as a quality
     Full Idea: Is the negative charge of an electron a quality or power? It is clear that physics describes the nature of charge only in terms of what its bearer can do.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 8.06)
     A reaction: The point is that an electron has properties, even though it has no observable qualities. Ingthorsson says the scientific concept of qualities is entirely about what something can do, and ot how it is perceived.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 1. Physical Objects
Compound objects are processes, insofar as change is essential to them
     Full Idea: Compound objects are to be considered processes, if by ‘process’ we mean any entity for which change is essential for its continued existence.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 7)
     A reaction: This doesn't seem to matter much, except to challenge those who say that reality consists of processes, and therefore not of substances.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Simples
Most materialist views postulate smallest indivisible components which are permanent
     Full Idea: Most materialist ontologies of the past postulate that the world ultimately consists of smallest indivisible component parts that persist because they must; they are permanent.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 2.1)
     A reaction: Van Inwagen is notable for this view. Ingthorsson says the theory is to explain medium-sized change, while denying that anything comes to be out of nothing. Theology may lurk in the background. Simple persistance won't explain compound persistance.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
Endurance and perdurance just show the consequences of A or B series time
     Full Idea: Endurance and perdurance are not explanations, but are merely characterisations of persistance with the constraints imposed by either an A or a B view of time.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 2.1)
     A reaction: This is 3-D asnd 4-D objects. A simple and illuminating observation. I love reading broad brush books that make all these simple connections between what seem isolated theories in philosophy. These links are the heart of the subject.
Science suggests causal aspects of the constitution and persistance of objects
     Full Idea: There are very obvious causal aspects to the constitution and continued existence of compound entities, especially in light of the scientific image of the world.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 6)
     A reaction: I like this a lot. He aims to explain constitution and persistance, rather than just describing or characterising them, and causal binding seems the obvious thought. There are still intermittent and distributed objects, like a dismantled clock.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 4. Four-Dimensionalism
If causation involves production, that needs persisting objects
     Full Idea: If causation involves production, then things must endure rather than perdure, because perdurance is incompatible with production, if creation ex nihilo is ruled out.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 4.10)
     A reaction: That is, objects must persist over time. Cannot an account of production be given in terms of time-sliceS (or whatever)? 3-D perdurantists obviously have an account of change. He says it also needs the A-series view of time.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / e. Against possible worlds
Every philosophical theory must be true in some possible world, so the ontology is hopeless
     Full Idea: Possible worlds ontology appears to be plentiful enough to allow every philosophical theory to be true in some world or other, and that is why I cannot consider it an ontologically serious theory. It admits everything and forbids nothing
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 9.6)
     A reaction: Nice. Be careful what you wish for. The theory would have to be consistent (unless we also accept impossible worlds).
Worlds may differ in various respects, but no overall similarity of worlds is implied
     Full Idea: Even if possible worlds could differ in many different respects, there is no useful way to combine these different respects into one measure of overall comparative similarity.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 9.7)
     A reaction: [idea of Michael Moreau 2010] This is an objection to the use of 'close' possible worlds in causation theories. The idea is true in general of the concept of similarity. It makes sense of specific 'respects', but not really of two whole objects.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. Types of cause
Humeans describe the surface of causation, while powers accounts aim at deeper explanations
     Full Idea: Humeans attempt to describe causation without any deeper ontological commitments, while powers based accounts attempt to explain why causation occurs in the way it is described.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1)
     A reaction: Exactly the view I have reached. The Humean view is correct but superficial. A perfect example of my allegiance to Explanatory Empiricism.
Time and space are not causal, but they determine natural phenomena
     Full Idea: Time and space are significant determinants of natural phenomena, and yet are not (typically) regarded as causal determinants
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1.4)
     A reaction: I like the word 'determinants'. Metaphysics largely concerns what determines what. I'm struggling to think of examples of this (which he does not give). Decay takes time, but isn't determined by time. Is a light cone a determinant?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 4. Naturalised causation
Casuation is the transmission of conserved quantities between causal processes
     Full Idea: Causal process theories state that causation needs to be understood in terms of causal processes and their interactions, in which conserved quantities are transmitted between causal processes.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1.5)
     A reaction: Sounds a bit circular, but the idea of transmission of something is obviously the main point. I like this idea a lot (because it is so naturalistic), but rarely find it taken seriously. Energy is usually the quantity picked out.
Causation as transfer only works for asymmetric interactions
     Full Idea: The transference model of causation only works for asymmetric interactions.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 4.11)
     A reaction: This is usually the transfer of energy. I liked the theory until I read this.
Interventionist causal theory says it gets a reliable result whenever you manipulate it
     Full Idea: The core of agency and interventionist theories of causation is that c counts as the cause of e iff E reliably appears and disappears when you manipulate C.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 2.1)
     A reaction: [C is the type of c; E is the type of e] James Woodward champions this view. Ingthorsson objects that the theory offers no explanation of the appearances and disappearances. You can't manipulate black holes…
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
Causal events are always reciprocal, and there is no distinction of action and reaction
     Full Idea: I accept the reciprocity of interactions, and abandon the Agent vs.Patient distinction, so we can no longer talk of the contribution of each as ontologically different types of cause. In interactions, neither action nor reaction can be separated.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 10.3)
     A reaction: His point is that we are misled by real world happenings, where one component is usually more powerful than the other (such as ball dropped onto a pillow). Modern science endorses his view. Mumford and Anjum seem to agree, and so do I.
One effect cannot act on a second effect in causation, because the second doesn't yet exist
     Full Idea: Hobbes implies that a Kim-style event e1 existing at t1 cannot possibly act on an effect e2 at t2, because that effect does not exist until the Agent has worked its effect on the Patient to provoke a change, thus bringing the effect into existence.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 3.08)
     A reaction: [Hobbes Elements of Phil 1656 II.IX.1] Ingthorsson says that the Hobbes view is the traditional 'standard' view, that objects (and not events) are the causal relata. A strong objection to events as the causal relata. Realists need objects.
Empiricists preferred events to objects as the relata, because they have observable motions
     Full Idea: It is the empiricists' refusal to deal with anything other than observable events that motivated the shift in conception of efficient causation …to influence by an event on another event (one motion on another) rather than by an object on an object.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 3.10)
     A reaction: I suppose events supply the necessary activity, whereas objects seem to be too passive for the job - because that's how they look. Ingthorsson persuades that objects are the correct causal relata, for those of us who believe in powers.
Science now says all actions are reciprocal, not unidirectional
     Full Idea: It is now accepted as a fact of modern science that unidirectional actions do not exist, and that all interactions are instead thoroughly reciprocal.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 3.10)
     A reaction: Ingthorsson says this undermines the standard traditional view (Hobbes etc) of Agent and Patient, with A having active powers and P having passive powers. All influences are mutual, it seems. Passive powers are active structures?
Causes are not agents; the whole interaction is the cause, and the changed compound is the effect
     Full Idea: By abandoning the standard view that causes are ‘extrinsic motive Agents’, an idea from pre-Newtonian physics, we are free to conceive of the interaction as a whole as the cause, and the change in the compound whole of interacting things as the effect.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 4.06)
     A reaction: Ingthorsson persuasively presents this as the correct account, as understood by modern science. It is not cause-then-effect. It is kerfuffle, then aftermath.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / c. Counterfactual causation
People only accept the counterfactual when they know the underlying cause
     Full Idea: I doubt that anyone will accept any counterfactual as true unless they believe they know the underlying causality.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 9.3)
     A reaction: Correct. Almost any example will support it. Compare coincidences and true causes.
Counterfactuals don't explain causation, but causation can explain counterfactuals
     Full Idea: I cannot identify any prima facie reason to think that causation can be explained in counterfactual terms, but plenty to think that causation can explain counterfactuals.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 9.1)
     A reaction: Love it. Treating causation as counterfactual dependency is hopelessly superficial. What is the reality that is involved? He cites the second law of motion.
Counterfactual theories are false in possible worlds where causation is actual
     Full Idea: if there are worlds where there are causal powers and/or lawful connections, then they are worlds in which the counterfactual theory of causation is false, because there causes produce the effects, regardless of any possible world.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 9.6)
     A reaction: A nice modern instance of turning the tables. Come to think of it, possible worlds theories are just asking for that. Are there possible worlds in which there are no other possible worlds? Or the possible worlds are inaccessible?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
A cause can fail to produce its normal effect, by prevention, pre-emption, finks or antidotes
     Full Idea: Counterexamples involving prevention and/or interference have come to be roughly divided into four main categories: (i) prevention, (ii) pre-emption, (iii) finks and (iv) antidotes.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 5.3)
     A reaction: These are the reasons why necessity is denied in causation. i) is in the initial circumstances, ii) is another cause getting there first, iii) is a defusing action in the agent, iv) is a defusing action in the patient. No necessity if one is possible.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 1. Laws of Nature
Any process can go backwards or forwards in time without violating the basic laws of physics
     Full Idea: Because it makes no difference to exchange the time variable t with its contrary -t, in the fundamental laws of physics, any process can be described as going either backwards or forwards in time, without violating those laws.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 4.13)
     A reaction: A few philosophers read a lot into this, but I don't. The inverse scenario may not breach the laws of physics, but it does involve time going backwards, which I think we can skip for now. Entropy would be interesting. Can information flow backwards?
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / b. Laws of motion
In modern physics the first and second laws of motion (unlike the third) fail at extremes
     Full Idea: While the first and second laws of motion are known to fail in the domain of very fast-moving and massive objects (i.e. where relativity deviates from classical mechanics) as well as in the quantum realm, the third law is still assumed to hold good.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 4.04)
     A reaction: This implies a universal status for the third law (equal and opposite reactions), which the other two lack. Ingthorsson sees this as crucial for our understanding of causation.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / a. Concept of matter
If particles have decay rates, they can't really be elementary, in the sense of indivisible
     Full Idea: We may wonder whether the fact that physics has calculated (and for some, confirmed) the decay rate of elementary particles can be a reason to think that they cannot really be ‘elementary’ in the philosophical sense of ‘indivisible’.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 7.6)
     A reaction: I don't think anything can ever conclusively be labelled as 'elementary', but this idea offers a reason for doubting whether a candidate particle is so basic. Does decay imply having parts?
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / h. Presentism
It is difficult to handle presentism in first-order logic
     Full Idea: Contemporary philosophers are not comfortable with presentism, because it is difficult to deal with presentism in the language of first-order predicate logic.
     From: R.D. Ingthorsson (A Powerful Particulars View of Causation [2021], 1.8)
     A reaction: Presumable that logic relies on objects which endure through time, or at least have a past. Second-order logic is better able to deal with processes, which only exist in the present, but nevertheless have an integral past and future. ?