Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Symposium on Mathias Frisch's "Causal Reasoning in Physics"

In philosophy of science, scientific methodology, and metaphysics, much has been written on the role of causal notions and causal reasoning in the so-called ‘special sciences’ and in common sense contexts. However, the most recent debate on causation focuses on whether causal reasoning also plays a role in physics. The majority view is that causation plays no role in physics (e.g. influentially articulated in Russell 1913, Price and Corry 2007).

In his forthcoming book “Causal Reasoning in Physics” (Cambridge University Press), Mathias Frisch opposes this received view. Frisch argues that causal reasoning does play a crucial role in physics. More precisely, he argues that time-asymmetric causal structures are as integral a part of the representational toolkit of physics as a theory’s dynamical equations. Frisch develops his argument partly through a critique of anti-causal arguments and partly through a detailed examination of actual examples of causal notions in physics, including causal principles invoked in linear response theory and in representations of radiation phenomena.

We take this symposium as an opportunity to discuss Frisch’s claims about causation and causal reasoning in physics. The commentators in this symposium will explore the consequences of Frisch’s view for the epistemology and metaphysics of causation; and they will critically evaluate Frisch’s arguments in favor of the central role assigned to causation and causal reasoning in physics.

Date: February 6, 2015
Time: 13:00-16:30
Location: IBZ München e.V. (Amalienstraße 38, 80333 München)



Preliminary program:

13:00 - 13:30 Frisch: Causal Reasoning in Physics
13:30 - 14:00 Hüttemann: Comment
14:00 - 14:15 Frisch: Reply to Hüttemann
14:15 - 14:30 Coffee Break
14:30 - 15:00 Illari: Comment
15:00 - 15:15 Frisch: Reply to Illari
15:15 - 15:45 Reutlinger: Comment
15:45 - 16:00 Frisch: Reply to Reutlinger
16:00 - 16:30 Open discussion