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Beebe, Helen. Does Anything Hold the Universe Together?
2006, Synthese 149(3): 509-533.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez
Abstract: According to 'regularity theories' of causation, the obtaining of causal relations depends on no more than the obtaining of certain kinds of regularity. Regularity theorists are thus anti-realists about necessary connections in nature. Regularity theories of one form or another have constituted the dominant view in analytic Philosophy for a long time, but have recently come in for some robust criticism, notably from Galen Strawson. Strawson's criticisms are natural criticisms to make, but have not so far provoked much response from regularity theorists. The paper considers and rebuts Strawson's objections. For example, Strawson claims that if there were no necessary connections in nature, we ought continually to find the regularity of the Universe surprising. I argue that the fact that the Universe is regular is something we take ourselves (fallibly) to know, and hence, in the light of this knowledge, its continued orderliness is not at all surprising

Comment: An excellent discussion of regularity theories of causation and some key challenges to those theories. Presupposes knowledge of Lewis (1973, 1979), as well as Hume's views. Would work well in a class on causation, or perhaps in a class on metaphysics more broadly, and could form part of the reading for a week about regularity theories. The paper is rich enough to be covered in a postgraduate course as well.

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