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The Consistency of Backwards Causation

Abla Hasan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation is devoted to defending a highly controversial and extensively discussed thesis that was first proposed by the British philosopher Sir. Michel Dummett in his 1954 paper, "Can an effect precede its cause". According to this thesis, under certain conditions one could without any inconsistency, believe in backwards causation. In this dissertation, I defend Dummett's thesis against: objections grouped under what I call "the objection from the ignorance condition" raised against him by: Gorovitz in his paper "Leaving the past alone", published 1964, Ben-Yami in his paper "The impossibility of backwards causation", published 2007, and by Peijnenburg in her paper "Shaping your own life", published 2006, and the objection from the Bilking argument as raised by Max Black in his paper "Why can't an effect precede its cause?" In addition, I clarify the misinterpretation made by Pejnenbourg who confused Dummett's "physical backwards causation" by her "psychological backward causation" account. Finally, contrary to Dummett I defend retrospective prayers as actual cases of consistently believing in affecting the past.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Hasan, Abla, "The Consistency of Backwards Causation" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3558781.