Causation, Counterfactuals, and the Third Factor

Tim Maudlin

in The Metaphysics Within Physics

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780199218219
Published online May 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191711596 | DOI:
 Causation, Counterfactuals, and the Third Factor

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This chapter argues that the attempt to analyse causation in terms of counterfactuals is wrong-headed in a way that no amount of fine-tuning can fix. Causation is not to be analysed in terms of counterfactual dependency at all, no matter how many equants and epicycles are appended to the original rough draft. The systematic connections between judgements about causes and judgements about counterfactuals can be explained by the involvement of a third factor, some component of the truth conditions of counterfactual claims that is also a component of the truth conditions for causal claims. This third factor would provide the analogue of a ‘common cause’ explanation for the systematic connections between causal claims and counterfactuals: neither underpins the other but the third factor underpins them both.

Keywords: causation; counterfactuals; third factor; Hume; laws

Chapter.  12126 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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