The Non‐Occurrence Of Events


Authors
Neil McDonnell
University of Glasgow
Abstract
What is it for an event not to occur? This is an urgent, yet under explored, question for counterfactual analyses of causation quite generally. In this paper I take a lead from Lewis in identifying two different possible standards of non-occurrence that we might adopt and I argue that we need to apply them asymmetrically: one standard for the cause, another for the effect. This is a surprising result. I then offer a contextualist refinement of the Lewis approach in light of initial problems, and discuss how the asymmetry remained hidden until now. I then relate the non-occurrence problem to issues of transitivity and proportionality in causation, before showing that a parallel problem exists for contrastivist and interventionist approaches to causation too.
Keywords Causation  Contrastivism  Interventionism  Events  Counterfactuals  Non-occurrence
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1111/phpr.12476
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References found in this work BETA

Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
Contrastive Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.

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