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Causation, Colour and Secondary Qualities

Brown, MC; (2012) Causation, Colour and Secondary Qualities. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis examines Price and Menzies’ defence of an agential theory of causation by analogy with the dispositional theory of colour, and their claim that causation should be treated as a secondary quality. Exploration of the objections to their theory that Price and Menzies discuss shows that causation should not be treated as a secondary quality. These objections are that the agential theory of causation confuses metaphysics with epistemology, that it is unavoidably circular, that it cannot account for causation in cases where agential manipulation is impossible, and that it is unacceptably anthropocentric. It is argued that although understanding causation as a secondary quality is supposed by Price and Menzies to solve these problems, this understanding does not in fact provide adequate responses to the four objections, and hence that treating causation as a secondary quality is under-motivated. It is argued, however, that the analogy made between causation and colour is nevertheless useful, because an idea from a different theory of colour presents a better option for understanding causation. This alternative idea uses agency, but does not bring the disadvantage of making causation metaphysically dependent on agency. The alternative idea is built on the argument for selectionism about colour. It is ultimately argued that although causation is not a secondary quality, it may yet be a tertiary quality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Causation, Colour and Secondary Qualities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1377108
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