University of Southern California Evolution of Causation from Aristotle to Kant Essay

Category: Psychology


Prompt: Identify and explain what led to changes in conceptions of causation from the ancient theory of Aristotle to the mechanist conception of the early modern era, to the Newtonian conception, onto the Humean “regularity” theory, and finally to the Kantian conception. Most contemporary philosophers now favor a regularity theory of causation, which obviously resembles Hume’s theory rather than Kant’s, whose theory is sometimes called “constructivist.” What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of regularity theories like Hume’s and constructivist theories like Kant’s?


  • Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources 2nd ed., attached
  • Robert Boyle, attached


  • at least 7 pages, double spaced
  • logical arguments
  • accurate references (please use footnotes)
  • comparisons among other philosophers of the period

Good structure to follow:

1. Aristotle’s 4 aspects of causal explanation

  • Existence and identity
  • Form and matter
  • Hylomorphism

2. Mechanism

  • Imprint theory
  • Ontological dependency
  • Change
    • Boyle
    • Newton: action at a distance

3. Regularity Theories

  • Causal explanation reduced to regularities, regularities are explained by wider regularities
  • Regualarities are probable
  • Prior probabilities can be easily collected, foundations of statistical analysis

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