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Petter Sandstad



Areas of interest

Chief areas are Aristotle, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science

I am Petter Sandstad, a new Marie Curie fellow at the Department of Philosophy. My research is focused on developing my account of Aristotle's formal cause. As one of his famous four causes, formal causation is the cause concerned with how having a certain form -- alternatively phrased as being a member of a certain kind, or as having a certain essence -- can serve as a cause.

I defend an account with fewer ontological commitments than more traditional accounts, and which is consistent with current best science. In my project, Formal Causation: Rivals and Extensions, I investigate connections to other possible rivals of formal causation and make several extensions of my account to related topics.

Specifically, the project will investigate (1) Aristotle's originally intended scope of the formal cause and his thoughts on the relations between the four causes distinguished by him; (2) the application of formal causation to occurrent entities like processes and events; (3) whether hylomorphic compounds can be thought of as mereological compounds of different parts, and if so what the relation to formal causation is; (4) whether formal causation should be thought of as a variety of downward causation, and relate this to the current debate about mechanistic explanations; and (5) formal causation as a type of metaphysical explanation.

Research projects

Current Projects

Formal Causation: Rivals and Extensions