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What's dynamic about causal powers? A black box!

Marmodoro, A



Modern science cannot do without Aristotelian powers – thus have argued Cartwright and Pemberton (2013) among many others. Aristotelian powers are essentially dynamic entities, which account for causal phenomena, and thus explain how change comes about in the world. In this chapter I argue that explaining causation in terms of interacting causal powers places causation … beyond the reach of our understanding(!) – because causal interaction shows us what powers do, and not what powers are. Metaphysicians by and large agree that the intrinsic nature of powers is to be dynamic entities. I contend here that their dynamism is irreducible, and crucially, unknowable, rendering what powers are ‘black boxes’ to us, despite multiple attempts of defining them in the literature. The sciences discover only how powers behave, and classify them teleologically to tell us what they do. Powers, however, are mysterious and unexplorable black boxes to us, even though they are indispensable in our scientific explanations of change in the world.


Marmodoro, A. (2022). What's dynamic about causal powers? A black box!. In Powers, Time and Free Will (1-15). Springer Verlag.

Online Publication Date Mar 22, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Oct 5, 2022
Publisher Springer Verlag
Pages 1-15
Book Title Powers, Time and Free Will

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