Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The C-C Fallacy

So, a real (attempt at) a philosophical post, for a change.

In the literature, there are a number of concessions that simply inferring constitution from causation is fallacious.  Here I have in mind Justin Fisher's review of Bounds, a comment in Andy Clark's Supersizing, and some passages from Rob Wilson's "Embodied Vision".  But, these concessions then suggest/claim that no one commits this simple fallacy.  (Fisher thinks some philosophers do, but that the more clever ones do not.)

I think that these concessions overlook the overall structure of the objections to coupling/constitution arguments.  So, all apparently agree that the simplest case is fallacious.  But, Adams and I do not leave matters at the simplest case.  We have two chapters of our book dedicated to grinding it out to the view that adding more conditions does not really change the problem.  The additional conditions that one might like to add to causation, e.g. trust and glue, do not bridge the gap to constitution.  The additional conditions, we argue, are essentially whistles and bells that do no deliver the constitutional goods.  So, the idea is that once one grasps the mechanics of the simple case, one ought (we think) to be able to see how the mechanics applies to more complex cases.

Now, maybe those two chapters don't cover all the cases and, we do not give a general argument that they do.  Nevertheless, it is also not the case that we only put forth the simple case.

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