Omissions and Preventions as Cases of Genuine Causation

Philosophical Papers 34 (2):209-233 (2005)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,745

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Omissions as possibilities.Sara Bernstein - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (1):1-23.
Preemptive Omissions.Joseph Metz - 2024 - Erkenntnis 89 (3):1117-1138.
Omission impossible.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2575-2589.
Omissions and Causal Explanations.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis Verlag. pp. 155–167.
Omissions and Their Effects.Martin Montminy - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (4):502-516.
Omissions as Events and Actions.Kenneth Silver - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (1):33-48.


Added to PP

94 (#59,481)

6 months
8 (#1,326,708)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

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.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Philosophical papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The act itself.Jonathan Bennett - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.

View all 10 references / Add more references