Re: [xmca] Kevin's paper for discussion: causality

From: Emily Duvall (
Date: Wed Jul 05 2006 - 05:57:39 PDT

Hi Steve,
Bunge did some great theorizing on the principle of determinancy which
you might find interesting if you haven't looked at it. "The principle
of determinancy, often mistaken for the law of causation, is the commn
ground of all forms of scientific determinism (from which fatalism is
excluded, since it involves supernaturalistic elements violating the
genetic principle). To reduce determinism to causal determinism is to
have either a poor opinion of the resources of nature and culture, or
too high an opinion of philosophical theories. Those who assign to
causality the exclusive appurtenance of characteristics that are
actually shared by all kinds of scientific determinism either fail to
resist the attacks of indeterminism and irrationalism or - to the extent
to which they succeed in the defense - inadvertently clothe noncausal
types of determination in a causal language" (Causality and Modern
Science, 352). For Bunge, the causal principle "is a general hypothesis
subsumed under the universal principle of determinancy".
More to think about?

Steve Gabosch wrote:

> Mike raises a really interesting challenge, which is to relate this
> high level discussion of causality to Kevin's paper, which I am
> thinking about. Kevin's paper does not specifically discuss theories
> of causality, but seems to encounter different views of causality in
> its general discussion of cognitivist teaching strategies versus
> cognitive apprenticeship, and - this needs to be looked into more
> carefully - may also be encountering different views on causality in
> the discussion of symmetry - Kevin's argument that the cognitive
> apprenticeship approach to learning needs to explore *symmetrical*
> explanations of learning by going beyond studies of communities of
> practice that are relatively benign and homogeneous. What conceptions
> about causality are implied in Kevin's symmetrical approach, and how
> are they different from approaches that are satisfied with
> asymmetrical explanations?
> I am glad Emily brought up Hume, and her discussion of dynamic systems
> theory and emergentism are also very useful - as is Ana's discussion
> of Prigogine. There is sure a lot packed into this little word,
> "causality"!
> Hume's theory of causality (the Wikipedia article on Hume has a useful
> section on this) has been an important discussion piece in philosophy
> for several centuries. Hume denied causality exists in nature - he
> claimed it was an illusion created by human minds because we *expect*
> certain things to happen based on our experiences. Consistent with
> his skepticist philosophy, Hume argued that we can never really know
> how things happened or will happen, just that we think they did or
> will. Hume flatly denied the existence of causes and effects being
> necessary and determined. This questions of whether causality
> actually exists in nature at all and when can causes be conceptualized
> as necessary and determined seem like some of many important issues to
> address in developing a CHAT approach to causality in exploring the
> causes of human development and activity.
> Interesting stuff, eh?
> - Steve
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