Causes, conditions and counterfactuals

Axiomathes 15 (4):599-619 (2005)
The article deals with one particular problem created by the counterfactual analysis of causality à la Lewis, namely the context-sensitivity problem or, as I prefer to call it, the background condition problem. It appears that Lewis’ counterfactual definition of causality cannot distinguish between proper causes and mere causal conditions – i.e. factors necessary for the effect to occur, but commonly not seen as causally efficacious. The proposal is put forward to amend the Lewis definition with a condition, based on the notion of cotenability, which would eliminate the problem. It is shown that the corrected definition of causality leads to the transitivity of the causal relation. Possible objections to the proposed solution, involving the assumption of indeterminism and the preemption cases, are given a thorough consideration.
Keywords causality  counterfactuals  possible worlds  transitivity  preemption
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-005-2487-8
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David Lewis (1973). Causation. Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.

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