Physical causation versus causation in physics. Physical setups and causal relations in practice

Start - End 
2013 - 2017 (ongoing)



In this project I study physical causation as opposed to causation in physics. Contrary tomost philosophers, I do not focus on the question whether the laws of physics can be causal(causation in physics), but on their applications and on practical situations (physicalcausation). For instance, instead of asking whether the ideal gas law = (pressure ×volume = amount of mol gas × universal gas constant × temperature) expresses any causalinformation in itself, I will investigate what can be said about the causal relations in e.g. apressure cooker (an application of the ideal gas law). In order to do this, I introduce anddevelop a concept to formalise such applications and practical situations, namely ‘physicalsetup’. Physical setups can be man-made (e.g. machines) or naturally occurring (e.g. our solarsystem).The focus on practice and physical setups allows me to clarify the paradoxical situationthat laws seem to give no causal information whereas in practical situations there is a veryobvious causal direction.I investigate how we select and delineate interesting setups (setups about which it isrelevant to make causal claims in a certain context). I furthermore analyse the meaning of causalclaims about particular physical setups (token-level) and types of setups (type-level). I willprovide an account of the evidence needed for these claims. Finally, I scrutinise therelation between the laws of physics and (types of) setups.



Phd Student(s)