Baffled by Smith

Gregory Dawes summarizes an argument from page 173 of Quentin Smith’s Causation which argues that the will of an omnipotent being cannot be the cause of the world or anything else:

No logically sufficient condition (LSC) can be a cause

The will of an omnipotent being is a LSC of whatever it causes.

Smith’s argument for the major is that since “a body is in motion” is a LSC of “a body is in space”, but the first cannot be the cause of the second.

I find the argument as summarized so baffling that I’m amazed Dawes gives more than a sentence in rebuttal. “I slapped John” is an obvious LSC for “John was slapped”, but the cause-effect relationship is… why am I still talking about this?

6 Comments

  1. David said,

    May 23, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    No logically sufficient condition? How about, “A logically sufficient condition is not necessarily a cause.” But that, of course, is trivial and unhelpful to his argument.

    • May 23, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      I honestly can’t remember a premise this wrong since all causes, as causes, are LSC’s of effects. What else would the LSC of an effect be?

      • Dennis said,

        June 1, 2016 at 8:35 am

        What would be the difference between a logically sufficient condition and a metaphysically sufficient condition? Philosophers in today have attacked the notion of sufficient conditions when applied to causation.

      • June 1, 2016 at 9:42 am

        I don’t know what distinction you want me to make.

        One can attack the idea that some cause acts with logical necessity, but here I’m talking about how “a cause” is logically inseparable from “an effect”. So long as we’re clear to make an apples to apples comparison (actual causes to actual effects, potential causes to potential effects, causes per se to effects per se, etc.) we simply would have no reason to call something a cause unless it had an effect, and vice-versa.

      • Dennis said,

        June 1, 2016 at 10:52 am

        Thank you for replying Mr. Chastek. Just so that I don’t misunderstand you, are you perhaps attacking the notion that things can be called causes, even if they don’t have any effects? If so, people have attacked this very notion. Rani Lill Anjum & Stephen Mumford are two philosophers that come to mind.

      • Dennis said,

        June 1, 2016 at 11:08 am

        I should add, while it’s true that on a general note; a cause falls under a, in the schema of ‘a brings about b,’ but it doesn’t have ot be looked at as causing that effect. It could be looked at as making it possible.

        When I look at Smith’s argument, I read it talking about implication or strict implication, so I have no idea of what Smith is on about.


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