Christian Loew (Universität zu Köln): Why do Effects not explain their Causes?
Many scientific and everyday explanations are asymmetric. For example, the height of the flagpole explains the length of the shadow that it casts, while the reverse is not true. We typically account for such explanatory asymmetries causally such that the direction of explanation mirrors the direction of causation (Salmon 1978). According to this view, the height of the flagpole explains the length of the shadow at a slightly later time because it causes it, but the length of the shadow does not explain the earlier height of the pole because it is merely an effect. So, the length of the shadow allegedly is disqualified from explaining the height of the flagpole because it is merely an effect. But why is providing information about effects not explanatory? What accounts for the difference in explanatory power between causes and effects? After all, we often can infer the occurrence of the cause from the effect, and, given deterministic laws, effects can lawfully determine the occurrence of their cause. In this paper, I give an account of why effects do not explain their causes that appeals to physical asymmetries between the past and the future. My account, hence, can supplement popular reductive accounts of the direction of causation that lack an explicit account of the asymmetry of explanation, such as Albert (2000) and Loewer (2007, 2012).