I'm struggling to understand why defining a scientific hypothesis as a falsifiable theory (which is what I understand to be science) means that no metaphysical cause can be taken into account.

If one can still design an experiment that would demonstrate some cause that we previously didn't know existed (and so was not classified according to our physical laws) now exists, would that mean that cause is now physical? If it is just an assumption, then why is this?

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    Does it? Relativity makes many metaphysical assuptions, like that spacetime is like a perfectly elastic surface. Sceince is just uninterested in testing those assuptions as long as they are untestable. – rus9384 Sep 23 '18 at 17:15
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    I made some edits which you may roll back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link above. I agree with you and it may just be that science isn't everything. Metaphysical causes, present or absent, are add-on's to science. They aren't part of science. See Plantinga's Where the Conflict Really Lies for more along this line of thinking. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Sep 23 '18 at 17:58
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    Science requires empiricism.. as yet I'm not aware of any real methods for experimenting on unreality.. science absolutely does not make any presuppositions about things science cannot investigate. – Richard Sep 23 '18 at 18:50
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    Why do you assume that science assumes that, is there a source? I ask because the answer depends on what is meant by "metaphysical", and it is unclear from your post. We did not know dark energy existed until recently, does it mean it was metaphysical? There is also scientific essentialism that explicitly develops science-based metaphysics. – Conifold Sep 23 '18 at 19:55
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    Science can only examine causes and effects in the sensual universe. Anything beyond the sensual universe is beyond cause and effect and cannot be measured. For science to find a cause that as previously unknown means that it exists in the sensual universe. To find a 'new' cause simply means we did not have the mental understanding or the instruments (which are extensions of our senses), or both, to be aware of its existence. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 24 '18 at 4:57

I think one must be certain about what 'causality' defines and then relate to science to see whether it does have the causal connections or not.

The nature of cause and effect is a concern of the subject known as metaphysics.

A general metaphysical question about cause and effect is what kind of entity can be a cause, and what kind of entity can be an effect.

One viewpoint on this question is that cause and effect are of one and the same kind of entity, with causality an asymmetric relation between them.

That is to say, it would make good sense grammatically to say either "A is the cause and B the effect" or "B is the cause and A the effect", though only one of those two can be actually true.

In this view, one opinion, proposed as a metaphysical principle in process philosophy, is that every cause and every effect is respectively some process, event, becoming, or happening.[7] An example is 'his tripping over the step was the cause, and his breaking his ankle the effect'.

Another view is that causes and effects are 'states of affairs', with the exact natures of those entities being less restrictively defined than in process philosophy.[8]

Another viewpoint on the question is the more classical one, that a cause and its effect can be of different kinds of entity.

For example, in Aristotle's efficient causal explanation, an action can be a cause while an enduring object is its effect.

For example, the generative actions of his parents can be regarded as the efficient cause, with Socrates being the effect, Socrates being regarded as an enduring object, in a philosophical tradition called a 'substance', as distinct from an action.

Since causality is a subtle metaphysical notion, considerable effort is needed to establish knowledge of it in particular empirical circumstances. Causality has the properties of antecedence and contiguity.[9][10]

These are topological and are ingredients for space-time geometry.

As developed by Alfred Robb, these properties allow the derivation of the notions of time and space.[11] Max Jammer writes "the Einstein postulate ... opens the way to a straightforward construction of the causal topology ... of Minkowski space."[12] Causal efficacy propagates no faster than light.[13]

Thus, the notion of causality is metaphysically prior to the notions of time and space.

In practical terms, this is because the use of the relation of causality is necessary for the interpretation of empirical experiments.

Interpretation of experiments is needed to establish the physical and geometrical notions of time and space.



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What science looks at is not so much metaphysical vs. physical as falsifiable vs. non-falsifiable. The statement "God did it" is not falsifiable, since we can't ask God or assume constraints on God's action. The statement "Electromagnetic fields did it" is falsifiable. We know what electromagnetic fields can do, so we can construct various mechanisms and see if they work.

It's always possible that there's stuff we don't know about electromagnetic fields, and if we find something new we can figure out what it can do and test it in various ways.

Now, suppose that my study of metaphysics allows me to work magic, and some scientists get interested. They're going to study what I can and can't do very carefully, and see what prevents me from doing certain spells and what enhances them. They will examine the metaphysical principles I'm using, and try to construct other magic systems based on varied metaphysical systems for comparison. As long as there's objective physical results (how much mass I can levitate, the temperature of my best fireball), the scientists are going to come up with hypotheses and test them.

Whether you consider that metaphysical principles are physical is a matter of definition. What would happen is that metaphysics would be falsifiable, and hence eventually scientific.

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The reason is made clear if we take the clear case of Positivism as defined by Comte. What he says is that one observes how things happen, rather than asking about an underling "hypo-thesis". The word hypothesis has changed in meaning. The current meaning is a working assumption, or, as the mighty Richard Feynman says, "a guess". Many of us will have heard the form: informed guess. The issue then is if the guess is confirmed by observation. The old sense of the word is still present in the word itself: hypo: under. A seeing under. This means that something is grasped intellectually, that is not grasped by the senses. A sub-stance: grasped theoretically, with theoria, i.e., with the eyes of the intellect. So the difference consists of sheer observation, versus an intellectual, or rational, reaching into the matters under discussion. Famously with the Hume Kant discussion about causality. Causality is not observed as it were (no "sensation" in Hume's sense corresponds to causation, it is "idea"), in the sense of a "glue" that puts things together in their sequence. Comte solved that problem by using mathematical functions, you know, f = n of x. In this sense, the whole of physics is like a set of rules, and one need not project them into the things. One need only ask if they predict correctly.

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