Omissions and Preventions as Cases of Genuine Causation

Philosophical Papers 34 (2):209-233 (2005)
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How should we deal with apparent causation involving events that have not happened when omissions are cited as causes or when something is said to prevent some event? Phil Dowe claims that causal statements about preventions and omissions are ‘quasi-causal' claims about what would have been a cause, if the omitted event had happened or been caused if the prevention had not occurred. However, one important theory of the logic of causal statements – Donald Davidson's – allows us to take causal statements about omissions and preventions as direct causal statements about events that are counterfactually described. This analysis provides a basis for solving a number of puzzles about ‘negative' events. Any ‘intuition' of difference between causal statements employing such descriptions and others employing positive descriptions of events is also explained. With omissions, where this intuition has some basis, it is shown that nevertheless omissions do really cause outcomes



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Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moore and Schaffer on the Ontology of Omissions.David Hommen - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):71-89.

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Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Philosophical Papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Act Itself.Jonathan Bennett - 1995 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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