What is Causation?(

Abstract

When we philosophers think about causation we are primarily interested in what causation is—what exactly is the relation between cause and effect? Or, more or less equivalently, how and in virtue of what is the cause connected to the effect? But we are also interested in an epistemic issue, viz., the possibility of causal knowledge: how, if at all, can causal knowledge be obtained? The two issues are, of course, conceptually distinct—but to many thinkers, there is a connection between them. A metaphysical account of causation would be useless if it did not make, at least in principle, causal knowledge possible. Conversely, many philosophers, mostly of an empiricist persuasion, have taken the possibility of causal knowledge to act as a constraint on the metaphysics of causation: no feature that cannot in principle become the object of knowledge can be attributed to causation

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