Indiana Philosophical Association
Spring 2021 Meeting, 9-10 April 2021
In conjunction with the
Indiana Academies Symposium: Beyond Boundaries
A virtual event | IPA Program (PDF)
Harry T. Ice Professor of Philosophy
"What shall we say caused the Capitol insurrection?
Some remarks on how to select a causal explanation"
When an event like the US Capitol insurrection occurs, we want an explanation. Why did it happen? What caused it?
In truth though, this event, like all events, has countless causes, and the request for an explanation is to
select some small subset of these causes as ones that we should care about. Philosophical theories of causation
and causal explanation are not generally good at addressing this selection problem, because they are focused on
the problems of characterizing genuine causes and causal explanations, and distinguishing them from spurious
causes and causal explanations. When pressed on this matter, philosophers will typically claim that the selection
problem is pragmatic: it just depends upon what you are interested in. While such a response is doubtless true,
it gives no insight into the selection problem. Hopefully we can do better. In this talk I shall use the case of
the Capitol insurrection to suggest some principles for selecting causal explanations we should care about.
Full program here (PDF).
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