Laws, causes and powers

Luiz Henrique de A. Dutra


This paper deals with the notions of scientific law, natural causes, and the powers of causes to produce their effects from the point of view of perspectival realism. In the first section I deal with the conception of cause defended by George H. Lewes, one of the forerunners of British emergentism, along with John Stuart Mill. In the next section I deal with the notion of heteropathic laws of Mill. In the last section I deploy these notions in my explanation of natural phenomena as emergent processes. I put emphasis on the fact that the base conditions of an emergent are not its causes.


Laws; Causes; Powers; Emergence; Perspectivism; Realism


BERNARD, Claude. Leçons sur les phénomènes de la vie communs aux animaux et aux végétaux. Paris: Vrin, 1966 [1878].

CARTWRIGHT, Nancy. Nature’s Capacities and Their Measurements. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

DAVIDSON, Donald. Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

DUTRA, Luiz H. de A. Emergência e realismo perspectivista. Scienciae Studia (São Paulo), vol. 11, n. 3, p. 637-665, 2013a.

DUTRA, Luiz H. de A. Pragmática de modelos. Natureza, estrutura e uso dos modelos científicos. São Paulo: Edições Loyola, 2013b.

DUTRA, Luiz H. de A. Emergência sem níveis. Scienciae Studia (São Paulo), vol. 13, n. 4, p. 841-865, 2015.

DUTRA, Luiz H. de A. Autômatos geniais. A mente como sistema emergente e perspectivista. Brasília: Editora UnB, 2018.

GIERE, Ronald N. Scientific Perspectivism. Chicago e Londres: The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

GREENE, Brian. The Elegant Universe. Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Nova York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

LEWES, George H. Problems of Life and Mind. First Series: The Foundations of a Creed, vol. I. Boston e Nova York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1875a.

LEWES, George H. Problems of Life and Mind. First Series: The Foundations of a Creed, vol. II. Londres: James R. Osgood & Co., 1875b.

LOCKE, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Indianápolis: Hackett, 1996 [1690].

MILL, John S. A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive. Nova York: Harper & Brothers, 1882 [1843].

MORGAN, Conwy Lloyd. Emergent Evolution. The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of St. Andrews in the Year 1922. Londres: Willliams and Norgate, 1927 [1923].

RANDALL, Lisa. Warped Passagens. Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions. Nova York: Harper Collins, 2006.


Copyright (c) 2020 Luiz Henrique de A. Dutra

Principia: an internationnal journal of epistemology
Published by NEL - Epistemology and Logic Research Group
Federal University of Santa Catarina - UFSC
Center of Philosophy and Human Sciences – CFH
Campus Reitor João David Ferreira Lima
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina - Brazil
CEP: 88040-900

 ISSN: 1414-4217
EISSN: 1808-171