Reversing the Counterfactual Analysis of Causation

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Abstract:

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.

Keywords: absence; backtracker; causation; counterfactual; inference; pre-emption

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09672550701383418

Affiliations: King's College, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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