The Outline of the Book

The outline of this book, very roughly, is as follows. In Chapter 2,1 discuss the relation between powers-based and neo-Humean accounts. I argue that they do not need to be understood as contrary to each other, if we understand the neo-Humean accounts as attempts to describe causation without any deeper ontological commitments, while powers-based accounts attempt to explain why causation occurs in the way it is described. Of course, once neo-Humean accounts of causation are linked to the ontological commitments of neo-Humean metaphysics, i.e. the view that there are no substantial connections between anything in this world, they are incompatible with powers-based accounts.

In Chapter 3,1 introduce in greater detail the view I call the standard view, and discuss how to best understand causal realism today. I argue that contemporary realists are neglecting certain foundational issues that were part and parcel of causal realism before the reductive neo-Humean views rose to power in the philosophical community, and that this explains why contemporary realists tend to accept the above mentioned neo-Humean elements in their characterisation of powers and of causal relations.

In Chapter 4, I present a hitherto largely overlooked problem for powers-based accounts, which is that they are implicitly assuming certain features of the standard view that are incompatible with modern physics. While outlining the problem, I develop a modified powerful particulars view, which aims to correct the flaw of the standard view.

In Chapter 5, I reassess the arguments against causal necessity and argue that they do not address any view that has actually been put forward to defend causal necessity, as well as showing that both the standard view and my modified view is immune to them.

In Chapter 6,1 argue that my account of causation in terms of interaction allows us to understand the constitution of compound objects, and their persistence over time, as thoroughly causal phenomena. Indeed, in Chapter 7,1 continue to argue that my causal account of constitution and persistence also offers a way to reconcile process and substance ontology; it presents compound objects as causal processes without robbing them of their status as substances.

In Chapter 8, I address the question of how to understand powers and argue, in opposition to the categorical/dispositional distinction, that they can be conceived of as powerful qualities. Finally, in Chapter 9, I illustrate the consequences of the book for our appreciation of what stands out today as the main neo-Humean view of causation, counter-factual theories. Roughly, I argue that we cannot explain causation in counterfactual terms, but we can explain counterfactuals in causal terms. Chapter 10 then provides a brief summary of similarities and differences between the powerful particulars view I defend, and other recent causal realist accounts. However, before I embark on the issues outlined above, let me offer some background reflections on the philosophy of causation that will facilitate the reading of this book.

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