Resolving the causal paradox
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This report begins with a paradox which proceeds from roughly the following premises: (i) that every fact has a cause, (ii) that there is a fact which includes all facts, (iii) that whatever causes a given fact must cause whatever facts that fact includes, and yet (iv) that no fact can cause itself. These premises seem to entail a contradiction, since whatever causes the fact which includes all facts is itself one of the facts which the fact so caused includes, meaning that it must cause itself. Each of the four premises which generate this paradox is intuitively correct. This report resolves the paradox by describing a positive causal model on which all of the four premises have plausible and well-motivated interpretations, at least one such interpretation apiece, which are all consistently true. Much of the discussion is devoted to examining the root logical properties of causation and metaphysical explanation in order to discern which versions of these premises are in fact plausible and well-motivated. The positive model on which these interpretations are reconciled involves an infinite regress of efficient causal facts in which each subsequent fact is embedded as a remainderless proper conjunct of the fact that precedes it.