Causality in medicine: Towards a theory and terminology

Abstract
One of the cornerstones of modern medicine is the search for what causes diseases to develop. A conception of multifactorial disease causes has emerged over the years. Theories of disease causation, however, have not quite been developed in accordance with this view. It is the purpose of this paper to provide a fundamental explication of aspects of causation relevant for discussing causes of disease.The first part of the analysis will discuss discrimination between singular and general causality. Singular causality, as in the specific patient, is a relation between a concrete sequence of causally linked events. General causation, e.g. as in disease etiology, means various categories of causal relations between event types. The paper introduces the concept of a reference case serving as a source for causal inference, reaching beyond the concept of general causality.
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