A gentleman named Matt Ackerman made an interesting point. In my scheme of "label and reality," causation does not qualify as reality, because "causation" has no corresponding physical reality. He's right, of course. That's a logical outcome of my scheme i didn't see.
Is this outcome reasonable? Is causation not "real," but rather mere "concept?"
I tend to think so. Especially given the observations underlying quantum physics, it seems possible that causation is much less foundational to reality than traditionally believed.
What exactly do we mean by "causation?"
Seems like we are saying two things:
1) physical state of affairs b follows physical state of affairs a 100% of the time.
2) some aspect or aspects of the physical universe preclude any other outcome
Seems like causation is really just a label we put on those two assertions.
And now that I think about it, seems like both assertions can be proven false, but neither can be proven to be true, because the possibility of a counterexample always exists.
And since both assertions are loaded with room for doubt, we shouldn't be surprised that there is so much argument about causation. If we could observe it in itself, there'd be no problem. But it's really just a pair of assertions about physical reality, both of which are very difficult to prove. Maybe that's why there's so much interminable argument about causation. We treat it like a real thing, but actually it's just a pair of unprovable claims.
that's not to say that the assertions underlying all causation are always false. It's just to show that causation really is those two claims and nothing else, and that those two claims are pretty wily.
For example, consider "she made me mad." claim 1 is easily shown true -- first came her action, then came my anger. But the second one is hazier. Could I have responded differently to the same action? No way to tell. Determinist would say no chemicals and stimuli determine outcome. Freewiller would say yes -- you chose your reaction. Neither can be tested, because it was a one-time deal. Did she really "make me mad?" hard to say.
"the heat from the stove causes water to boil." correlation? Check. Claim about reality? Insert description of the properties of water that make it gas at 100C. Check. Causation proven? No. But good enough for me.