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Problems for the Conserved Quantity Theory: Counterexamples, Circularity, and Redundancy

Christopher Hitchcock
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5840/monist20099214 72-93 First published online: 1 January 2009


The conserved quantity theory of causation aims to analyze causal processes and interactions in terms of conserved quantities. In order to be successful, the theory must correctly distinguish between causal processes and interactions, on the one hand, and pseudoprocesses and mere intersections on the other. Moreover, it must do this while satisfying two further criteria: it must avoid circularity; and the appeal to conserved quantities must not be redundant. I argue that the theory is not successful in meeting these criteria.

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