Note: I'm translating the vocabulary from Spanish so there may be some erroneous terms. If so, please edit them.

In Causality: the place of the causal principle in modern science by Mario Bunge, the author asks, in section 1.1.2, of what kind is the category of (a) causation: is it a type of interdependency and thus has an ontological condition? or is causation a purely epistemological category that, if it exists at all, exists only in the description of our experience?

By now I have a few questions: by "ontological condition" of the category (of causation) does the author mean that a) causation phenomena are an objective truth, not just something we are making up to describe the world or b) causation is a kind of object on its own independent of every other object?

A few pages later, in section 1.2.2, it is said that if determination has a gnoseologic character then it is because it has an ontological support but, given the meanings of causation and determination that the author is using, causations are a subclass of determinations and thus if causation has a gnoseologic character then it is because it has an ontological support

Can someone clarify the situation?


  • "Gnoseological" is usually called "epistemological" in Anglophone literature. Phenomena can not be "objective truth", truth/falsehood only apply to descriptions of reality, not to reality itself. But what he means is that causation can be an objectively existing entity (not object, relation/action in this case), or it can be an artifact of our descriptions, which nonetheless indirectly expresses something else existent. Apparently, he is not considering the third possibility that it is a purely nominal/conventional association that we habitually attach to some pairs of events, as Hume thought.
    – Conifold
    Jan 4, 2020 at 1:12
  • @Conifold He does (i forgot to mention in the answer): he mentions various philosophers and goes over the history of the approaches. He finishes the section with: the empirist doctrine of causality will be examined in depth in the course of this book, specially having in mind the widespread belief that Hume gave the final solution (or almost final) to the problem of causality Jan 4, 2020 at 1:18
  • I think the most common modern doctrine is quasi-Kantian rather than Humean. Namely, causality is a holistic structure based not on some intrinsic properties of individual events, but imposed top down to fit them into a more unified overall picture of the world governed by laws of nature. Bunge's "epistemological option": causation is not in and of itself an objective entity but a projected manifestation of the said laws of nature, which are its "ontological support".
    – Conifold
    Jan 4, 2020 at 6:01


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