Chapter

Causation First: Why Causation is Prior to Counterfactuals

Dorothy Edgington

in Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590698
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731242 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590698.003.0012

Series: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness Series

Causation First: Why Causation is Prior to Counterfactuals

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Part 1 gives reasons for thinking that causation is about as basic a concept as there is, and so the hope of giving an informative analysis of the reductive sort, ‘c causes e iff…’, is dim. Part 2 has some criticisms of the attempt to give such an account in terms of counterfactuals. Part 3 argues that, conversely, to the extent that there is one standard, default way of understanding counterfactuals, we need to appeal to causal notions in saying what it is. Part 4 argues that even if there is one standard, default way of assessing counterfactuals, perfectly proper uses of the counterfactual conditional are not always of that kind, and, in context, a much wider class of interpretations of them is permissible.

Keywords: causation; counterfactuals; David Hume; David Lewis

Chapter.  6011 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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