Yes. It seems that, like so many words in English, "cause" has many shades of meaning. I think it is this kind of ambiguity around the word "cause" which is part of the problem here. It seems clear that when Rayliikanen uses the word "cause" he/she is talking exclusively about things that happen as a direct result of the will of conscious beings:(There is also a certain ambiguity about 'cause' in that the word still retains the idea of purpose, intention. 'He fights for a cause'. I understand this is not an entirely separate meaning, since it came into Scholastic discussions about 'change' in a general sense, but I do not think we should assume it is meant this way when people like scientists use it.)
Using this narrow definition of the word "cause", there are no causes in nature at all outside of conscious beings. There is the "first cause", and a whole load of causes stemming from these beings. Everything else is a chain of effects. Fine, but we then have the tricky problem of deciding where to draw a dividing line between conscious beings and non-conscious mechanical "effects". What exactly qualifies as a "higher organism"? Just humans? Humans and other primates? All mammals? All animals? etc....Natural selection is a process, hence, an effect. It can work as a cause in higher organisms, like human beings, who can act as causes...
-- Updated Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:26 am to add the following --
Clarification: that second quote was from Rayliikanen.
-- Updated Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:41 pm to add the following --
Are you using the narrow definition of "cause" that I mentioned above? Are causes only present when agents with free will are present, in your view? It seems that way because of your use of the "player" (an agent with free-will) in this example. But I'm not sure.Cause is a question of why. The cause is why it happened. The cause of the ball going in the hoop is because the player shot it in. Why did the ball go into the hoop? Because the player shot it in.
To test whether that is what you mean: If I propose that the cause of an apple falling from a tree is that it grew too heavy to be held up, would you agree? In this case I'm using the word "cause" in the absence of any obvious free agent or sentient being.
In this passage you seem to be mixing the question of why life arose with the question of why a speciation event occurred. Those are two separate things. The Theory of Evolution deals with the latter but not the former. Although, as you've said, it might well shed some light on the former.Science cannot say why life exists, therefore in explaining causation they are bound to encounter a brick wall. Why did this species arise? (i.e. what is the cause of this species existing?)
Yes, but as you're about to show, and as every child knows, it's always possible to just keep on asking "why?"Because over time certain genetic mutations accumulated over time, and those that had a selective advantage were much more likely to persist and become permanent. But....
Such things as cosmic rays. Why do cosmic rays happen? They're emitted by distant stars. Why are they emitted by distant stars? Because of the structure of atoms and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Why are atoms structured like that? Why are the strong and weak nuclear forces as they are? ... etc.Why do genes mutate in the first place?
Certain traits persist because they're beneficial for survival in the particular environment that the organism finds itself. If, for example, dark skin confers better protection from harsh sunlight but light skin allows better production of vitamin D from that sunlight, then in an environment with weaker sunlight, other things being equal, lighter skinned individuals will tend to do better than darker skinned ones. They won't tend to get rickets so often.And why does nature favor certain traits over others? (i.e. why does natural selection go in the particular directions it does?) Be... cause... uh...
That doesn't mean that there is a conscious agent saying "ok, I want humans to spread to higher latitudes. How can I solve the problem of vitamin D defficiency? I've got it! Lighter skin!"
Nature doesn't deliberately move in a particular direction due to an act of will. It's the simple result of inheritance, death/hard life and time.
No it doesn't. Have you read any of the basics of how the theory of evolution works?Science has no clue, often forcing them to sweep the issue under the rug by saying something like "it's random" or "no reason we can tell" or "that's just how the world works", etc.
I think a true philosopher is one who tries to examine exactly what he means when he asks a question and can sometimes conclude that he doesn't know.And this answer is never acceptable to any true philosopher....
As I said, every child knows that it's always possible to keep asking "why?". The difficult question, for people who are not satisfied with the answers that come back is, "what form of answer did I expect?"