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Reversing the Counterfactual Analysis of Causation

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The counterfactual analysis of causation has focused on one particular counterfactual conditional, taking as its starting-point the suggestion that C causes E iff (∼C □→ ∼E). In this paper, some consequences are explored of reversing this counterfactual, and developing an account starting with the idea that C causes E iff (∼E □→ ∼C). This suggestion is discussed in relation to the problem of pre-emption. It is found that the 'reversed' counterfactual analysis can handle even the most difficult cases of pre-emption with only minimal complications. The paper closes with a discussion of the wider philosophical implications of developing a reversed counterfactual analysis, especially concerning the differentiation of causes from causal conditions, causation by absences, and the extent to which causes suffice for their effects.
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Keywords: absence; backtracker; causation; counterfactual; inference; pre-emption

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: King's College, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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