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# CAUSATION I.

Humes account Starting point for all modern theories of causation: - variants of Humean (regularity) account are still in the running - problems faced by Humes account are problems faced by all accounts - well focus on singular causation 1. Skeptical background On most definitions, causation is a relation between two events, the cause and the effect. Causation expresses some type of necessary connection between the cause and the effect. Hume: we never observe any necessary connection deriving from secret powers. Only contiguity, priority, and constant conjunction. Russell (1913): the notion of cause is never used in serious science. 2. Humes two definition(s) of causation A. Causation = regular association C causes E if and only if: i) Regularity: There is a regular association (or constant conjunction) between things similar to (of type) C and things similar to E ii) Temporal priority: C precedes E In places, Hume adds a third condition: iii) Contiguity: C is contiguous with E (in space and time). B. Causation = counterfactual dependence C causes E if and only if: Had C not occurred, then E would not have occurred.

3. Virtues of Humes (regularity) account explains connection between causes and regularities takes the mystery out of causation: the necessary connection is purely psychological

4. Problems with Humes (regularity) account Problem 1: Vagueness of similarity. Remedy: Appeal to laws. (x)(Cx Ex) must be a law (or derived from laws), where C and E are kinds. Problem: distinguishing laws from accidental regularities.

Problem 2: causes are not invariably followed by their effects. Example: Shooting causes death; watering causes growth. But these effects are not invariable. Remedy: partial and total causes. (Our goal is to isolate causal factors, rather than total causes.) Remedy: Mackies INUS conditions. Smoking in bed caused the fire. Smoking is a necessary part of a sufficient condition for the fire.

Problem 3: Spurious correlations: regularities, but not causation. Examples: Thunder/lightning; falling barometer/coming storm.

5. Current Situation From Humes theory, we get a number of contemporary theories of causation. a) Neo-Humean regularity theories (e.g., Mackie) b) Counterfactual theories (Lewis, Schaffer) c) Connection theories (Salmon, Dowe) Well focus on b) and c).

II. Counterfactual theories (David Lewis) 1. C causes E directly if and only if: If C had not occurred, E would not have occurred. 2. C causes E (indirectly) if and only if: There is a chain C, C1,, Cn, E of events such that each directly causes the next.

Problems: 1) How do we assess truth of counterfactual claims? Ex. 1: If I hadnt left the tap on, the house would not have flooded. Ex. 2: If Nixon had pressed the button, there would have been a nuclear holocaust. Lewis: look at closest world to ours in which the counterfactual condition holds (but laws of nature are otherwise held fixed). [This account still depends upon laws.] 2) Preemption and overdetermination cases. Preemption: desert traveler Overdetermination: firing squad 3) Too many causes (e.g., negative causes). Ex: My failure to go to the hospital last night to remind the doctor to administer antibiotic caused the death of the patient.

III. Salmon Causal Connections 1. Background Standard picture of causality: A relation between two distinct events. Salmons insight: No event-based theory of causation (regularity or counterfactual approach) can handle questions about the causal connection between events. Salmons two basic concepts: a) production (of causal influence) Ex: throwing a baseball b) propagation (of causal influence). Ex: baseball moves through the air

2. Processes A process is: - something with greater duration than an event. - represented by lines on a space-time diagram. - characterized by persistence of something that changes only continuously. Salmon: persistence of structure Dowe: persistence of a conserved quantity (energy/momentum/charge)

Causal processes vs. pseudo-processes. Criterion of Mark Transmission (MT) A causal process is capable of transmitting a mark (signal, information, energy). A pseudo-process is not capable of transmitting a mark (signal, information,). Example: a spotlight is rotating at the centre of a circular building The pulse from the spotlight to the wall is a causal process. (Can mark it with a coloured filter, block it, etc.) The spot travelling around the rim is a pseudo-process. (Marking it at one spot has no lasting effect.) A pseudo-process can travel faster than the speed of light. Remarks All processes have structure or form. Causal processes transmit their own structure (and can hence transmit modifications or marks); pseudo-processes do not. Only causal processes can propagate causal influence.

3. At-at theory of causal propagation At-at theory: A causal process is structure present at a continuous series of points at a continuous sequence of times PROVIDED that the mark transmission condition is met. Necessary connection. The causal process provides the connection we want in causation. It does not invoke the secret powers that led Hume to skepticism about causation. Counterfactuals: a process need not be actually marked to count as causal. The MT criterion is counterfactual in character. Objection: counterfactuals are hopelessly vague. Reply: i) Respectable counterfactuals can be tested by experimental manipulations. ii) MT involves only respectable counterfactuals.

4. Link to scientific explanation Normal scientific explanations invoke a link (a physical connection) between one or more causes C and an effect E. The full explanation requires: - a cause (production of causal influence) - an effect (causal interaction) - a causal process that links cause and effect Example: Starting the car. Salmons full theory involves: 1) causal processes (spatio-temporal connections that propagate structure). 2) Causal interactions (produce modifications in structure). 3) Common causes (produce initial structure). 5. Difficulties with connections theories a) Which connections? (Physical connection without causation) Example: I spray coloured paint on a baseball as it flies past me; it then breaks a window. There is a continuous causal process linking me to the broken window. But my spraying is not a cause of the windows breaking. b) Negative causation. (Causation without physical connection) Example: The lunar eclipse is caused by the earths passing between the sun and the moon. There is no (relevant) physical connection here between earth and moon or sun and moon rather, the absence of the usual connection is responsible for the eclipse.