Religious Studies



God, causation and occasionalism


WILLIAM F. VALLICELLA a1
a1 1360 East Cindy Street, Chandler, Arizona, 85225–5433

Abstract

The doctrine that there are no logically necessary connections in nature can be used to support both occasionalism, according to which God alone can be a cause, and ‘anti-occasionalism’, according to which God cannot be a cause. Quentin Smith has recently invoked the ‘no logically necessary connections in nature’ doctrine in support of the latter. I bring two main objections against his thesis that God (logically) cannot be a cause. The first is that there are good reasons to think that there are irreducible dispositions in nature, and that where such dispositions are manifested, there are logically necessary causal connections. The second objection is that even if the ‘no logically necessary connections in nature’ doctrine is true, one is not forced to deny causal efficacy to God: with no breach in logical propriety, one may embrace occasionalism.