Causation (Oxford Readings in Philosophy) by Ernest Sosa

By Ernest Sosa

This quantity provides a range of the main influential fresh discussions of the an important metaphysical query: what's it for one occasion to reason one other? the topic of causation bears on many issues, comparable to time, clarification, psychological states, the legislation of nature, and the philosophy of technological know-how. members comprise J.L Mackie, Michael Scriven, Jaegwon Kim, G.E.M. Anscombe, G.H. von Wright, C.J. Ducasse, Wesley C. Salmon, David Lewis, Paul Horwich, Jonathan Bennett, Ernest Sosa, and Michael Tooley.

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In his essay, Bennett focuses upon causation viewed as a relation between events, rather than as a relation between facts, and he attempts to show that any counterfactual analysis of event causation must be unacceptable. The argument which Bennett develops turns upon the claim that our ordinary concept of causation involves an asymmetry with respect to those events that hasten a given type of event, and those that delay it: if an event hastens the occurrence of an event of a certain type, then it is a cause of that event, whereas if it delays the occurrence of an event of a certain type, then it is not a cause of that event.

We can indicate this type of relation more briefly if we take the provisos for granted and replace the existentially quantified variables 'X' and 'Y' by dots. That is, we can say that A is an I NU S condition of P when (A ... or ... ) is a necessary and sufficient condition of P. 2 The phrase 'minimal sufficient condition' is borrowed from Konrad Marc-Wogau, 'On Historical Explanation', Theoria, 28 (1962), 213-33. This article gives an analysis of singular causal statements, with special reference to their use by historians, which is substantially equivalent to the account I am suggesting.

But this agrees very well with the fact that we would ordinarily hesitate to say, of either bullet, that it caused the man's death, or of either the lightning or the cigarette butt that it caused the fire, or of either the excitement or the heart attack that it was the cause of death. ' Our ordinary concept of cause does not deal clearly with cases of this sort, and we are free to decide whether or not to add to our ordinary use, and to the various more or less formal descriptions of it, rules which allow us to say that where more than one at-least-INus-condition, and its conjunct conditions, are present, each of them caused the result.

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