Constitutional Law

Causation (Oxford Readings in Philosophy) by Ernest Sosa

By Ernest Sosa

This quantity offers a range of the main influential contemporary 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, similar to time, rationalization, psychological states, the legislation of nature, and the philosophy of technology. individuals 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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Extra info for Causation (Oxford Readings in Philosophy)

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Then the conjunction 'ABC' represents a sufficient condition of the fire, and one that contains no redundant factors; that is, ABC is a minimal sufficient condition for the fire. , be all the other minimal sufficient conditions of this result. Now provided that there is some necessary and sufficient condition for this result, the disjunction of all the minimal sufficient conditions for it constitutes a necessary and sufficient condition. 3 That is, the formula 'ABC or DEF or CHI or .. ' represents a necessarx and sufficient condition for the fire, each of its disjuncts, such as 'ABC', represents a minimal sufficient condition, and each conjunct in each minimal sufficient condition, such as 'A', represents an IN US condition.

Far from being a condition both necessary and sufficient for the fire, the short-circuit was, and is known to the experts to have been, neither 34 JOHN L. MACKIE necessary nor sufficient for it. In what sense, then, is it said to have caused the fire? At least part of the answer is that there is a set of conditions (of which some are positive and some are negative), including the presence of inflammable material, the absence of a suitably placed sprinkler, and no doubt quite a number of others, which combined with the short-circuit constituted a complex condition that was sufficient for the house's catching fire-sufficient, but not necessary, for the fire could have started in other ways.

The answer depends upon what sorts of states of affairs are basic. If a realist view of causation is correct, so that causal states of affairs are not logically supervenient upon non-causal ones, then the degree of similarity of one world to another will depend, among other things, upon the causal structure of the two worlds, and so, once again, any attempt to analyse causal concepts in counterfactual terms will necessarily be circular. But if, on the other hand, causal facts are not basic, then judgements concerning the similarity of one world to another will not presuppose information about the causal structures of the two worlds, and so the door will in principle be open to a counterfactual analysis of causal statements.

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