My intention is to prove that causation is a feature of the world requiring the existence of objects and powers. I will begin by opposing the most prevalent contemporary accounts of causation, including regularity views and accounts that view causation as a relation between events. These theories will be shown to be lacking in their ability to accurately capture the causal features of our world. I will then produce a positive and systematic metaphysical account of causation – one that relies upon the powers of objects. My research is heavily influenced by the work of C. B. Martin, Stephen Mumford, George Molnar, and Neil Williams.
The work defends four central theses related to causation. The first of these is singularism, the view that the ontological grounds for a singular causal instance depend solely on features of the particulars involved in the causal relation. The second thesis is that any good theory of causation ought to support causal necessitation. The third central thesis, and from where the title of this work gets its name, is the idea that causation in name is not causation in reality. Most analyses of causation have failed precisely because the nominal essence of causation was taken to be the real essence of causation. The final piece of the project sheds light on how powers stand in relation to causes and effects. The fourth thesis is that the real essence of causation is found in the complex interaction of many manifesting powers.
Singularism is to be contrasted with views that see the grounds of the singular causal relation as something “outside” the causal instance. Most often, the opposing view point is one that posits laws or regularities as the ultimate grounds for singular causation. On this view, the singular causal sequence requires some covering law or regularity in order to be causal. The view proposed in this work however, is that causal instances are causal in virtue of the particular features of the singular causal instance alone. The ultimate grounds of causation will not be found above, but rather below. The truthmaker for all true causal claims will be power properties, and power properties, I will argue, are intrinsic to the singular causal relation.
Causal necessitation can be cashed out in number of different ways. For me, causal necessitation ought to capture what we mean by physical necessity. To use Mackie's phrasing, causation should be the cement that holds the universe together. I will go along with Hume in defining causal necessitation as a necessary connection between distinct existents. I will diverge from Hume in stating that these necessary connections (abbreviated NCDE) do exist. Moreover, it will be shown that the power account of causation captures this unique kind of physical necessity in ways that other theories of causation cannot.
The dissertation proposes a distinction between the nominal essence of causation and the real essence of causation. The aim of this project is to characterize the real essence of causation, or causation de re. The proposal here is that while nominal causation can take many forms, the real essence of causation involves powers and their attendant manifestations. This distinction will be further evidenced by the inability of nominal causal instances to capture NCDE. Our causal talk may aim at or point toward real causation, but more often than not, nominal causation will turn out to not be causation de re.
An ontology of powers will also be defended in this dissertation. The work views all properties as being powers. Even the most paradigmatic putative categorical properties will be shown to be powers. Powers, it will be argued, are identified by their directedness, independence, and intrinsicality. All three aspects of powers will be discussed and defended.
Ultimately, this dissertation argues for a robust power account of real causation. All true causal claims will have truthmakers. The truthmakers for these claims will most often be a complex interaction of the contributions of many manifesting powers combining in such a way so as to produce an effect. Furthermore, the real essence of causation will be found in the complex interaction of powers and the unique manifestations toward which they are directed.