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Volume 51 • Number 3

July 2014



Time and Causation

by Richard Swinburne

Could an effect precede (or be simultaneous with) its cause? The point of this paper is to elucidate just how the answer depends crucially on what a "cause" is, and what it is for one event temporally to "precede" another. Accounts of causation and of temporal precedence can be divided into two basic kinds—accounts that treat these concepts as fully analyzable in terms of other independently intelligible concepts—the concepts of the actual pattern of events and of the laws governing these; and accounts that treat these concepts as not fully analyzable in terms of other concepts, but such that they are concepts (like the concepts normally designated by "red" or "high note" or "straight line") necessarily instantiated in paradigm types of instances of their correct application. I will call the two kinds of account of causation and temporal precedence derivative and underivative accounts. While I will provide some justification for preferring the underivative accounts, this paper does not aim to provide a full justification but only to show how the claim that an effect could precede its cause depends totally on which accounts one adopts.

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ISSN: 2152-1123