Proportionality, contrast and explanation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797 (2013)
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If counterfactual dependence is sufficient for causation and if omissions can be causes, then all events have many more causes than common sense tends to recognize. This problem is standardly addressed by appeal to pragmatics. However, Carolina Sartorio [2010] has recently raised what I shall argue is a more interesting problem concerning omissions for counterfactual theories of causation—more interesting because it demands a more subtle pragmatic solution. I discuss the relationship between the idea that causes are proportional to their effects, the idea that causation is contrastive, and the question of the dimensions along which causal explanations should be evaluated with respect to one another.



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Brad Weslake
New York University, Shanghai

Citations of this work

Causal exclusion and the limits of proportionality.Neil McDonnell - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (6):1459-1474.
Halfway Proportionality.Bram Vaassen - 2022 - Philosophical Studies (9):1-21.
The Metaphysics of Omissions.Sara Bernstein - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (3):208-218.

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Mental causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Causation as influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Contrastive causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.

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