The Transitivity and Asymmetry of Actual Causation

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:1-27 (2017)
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Abstract

The counterfactual tradition to defining actual causation has come a long way since Lewis started it off. However there are still important open problems that need to be solved. One of them is the (in)transitivity of causation. Endorsing transitivity was a major source of trouble for the approach taken by Lewis, which is why currently most approaches reject it. But transitivity has never lost its appeal, and there is a large literature devoted to understanding why this is so. Starting from a survey of this work, we will develop a formal analysis of transitivity and the problems it poses for causation. This analysis provides us with a sufficient condition for causation to be transitive, a sufficient condition for dependence to be necessary for causation, and several characterisations of the transitivity of dependence. Finally, we show how this analysis leads naturally to several conditions a definition of causation should satisfy, and use those to suggest a new definition of causation.

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Sander Beckers
University Tübingen

Citations of this work

The metaphysics of causation.Jonathan N. D. Schaffer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Model-Invariant Theory of Causation.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2021 - Philosophical Review 130 (1):45-96.
Causal Sufficiency and Actual Causation.Sander Beckers - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (6):1341-1374.

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References found in this work

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
Causation as influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):201-202.

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