September 8, 2022

Backwards Causation in Social Institutions


Whereas many philosophers take backwards causation to be impossible, the few who maintain its possibility either take it to be absent from the actual world or else confined to theoretical physics. Here, however, I argue that backwards causation is not only actual, but common, though occurring in the context of our social institutions. After juxtaposing my cases with a few others in the literature and arguing that we should take seriously the reality of causal cases in these contexts, I consider several objections. These objections involve whether the cases should be reinterpreted, whether they are properly within the institution, whether they involve necessitation or else Cambridge changes, whether and how they involve changing the past, and whether this should call us to question institutional reality. I end by suggesting that it is a virtue of our institutions that they allow backwards causation, that this is a kind of technology that they are often built to incorporate.

September 8, 2022 at 06:23PM

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