Synthese 195 (3):1211-1229 (2018)

Authors
Neil McDonnell
University of Glasgow
Abstract
It is commonly assumed that causation is transitive and in this paper I aim to reconcile this widely-held assumption with apparent evidence to the contrary. I will discuss a familiar approach to certain well-known counterexamples, before introducing a more resistant sort of case of my own. I will then offer a novel solution, based on Yablo’s proportionality principle, that succeeds in even these more resistant cases. There is a catch, however. Either proportionality is a constraint on which causal claims are true, and the solution works, or it is not and causation is not transitive after all. I will argue that the first horn has unacceptable consequences and should be rejected, but that the second horn is less costly than it might initially appear.
Keywords Transitivity  Causation  Proportion  Counterfactual  Counterpart  Constraint  Pragmatic  Semantic
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Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1263-1
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1974 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.
Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Metaphysics of Causation.Jonathan N. D. Schaffer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Deviant Causation and the Law.Sara Bernstein - forthcoming - In Teresa Marques & Chiara Valentini (eds.), Collective Action, Philosophy, and the Law.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

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