Against the Contrastive Account of Singular Causation

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):115-143 (2012)
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For at least three decades, philosophers have argued that general causation and causal explanation are contrastive in nature. When we seek a causal explanation of some particular event, we are usually interested in knowing why that event happened rather than some other specified event. And general causal claims, which state that certain event types cause certain other event types, seem to make sense only if appropriate contrasts to the types of events acting as cause and effect are specified. In recent years, philosophers have extended the contrastive theory of causation to encompass singular causation as well. In this article, I argue that this extension of the theory was a mistake. Although general causation and causal explanation may well be contrastive in nature, singular causation is not



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Citations of this work

Interventionism and Higher-Level Causation.Vera Hoffman-Kolss - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (1):49-64.
A Defense of Causal Invariantism.Martin Montminy & Andrew Russo - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):49-75.
Disjunctive Effects and the Logic of Causation.Roberta Ballarin - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):21-38.

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Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.
Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.

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