Volume 17, Issue 3, Septiembre 2002
The Localism of the Conserved Quantity Theory
Phil Dowe has argued persuasively for a reductivist theory of causality. Drawing on Wesley Salmon's mark transmission theory and David Fair's transference
theory, Dowe proposes to reduce causality to the exchange of conserved quantities. Dowe's account has the virtue of being simple and offering a definite "visible" idea of causation. According to Dowe and Salmon, it is also virtuous in being localist. That a theory of causation is localist means that it does not need the aid of counterfactuals and/or laws to work. Moreover, it can become the means by which we explain counterfactuals and laws. In this paper, I will argue that the theory is not localist (and hence, that it is less simple than it seems). As far as I can see, the theory needs the aid of laws.