Journal Article

A Theory of Causation: <i>Causae Causantes</i> (Originating Causes) as Inus Conditions in Branching Space-Times

Nuel Belnap

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, issue 2, pages 221-253
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
A Theory of Causation: Causae Causantes (Originating Causes) as Inus Conditions in Branching Space-Times

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Branching space-times (BST) theory, as developed elsewhere, permits a sound and rigorously definable notion of ‘originating cause’ or causa causans—a type of transition event—of an outcome event. Mackie has famously suggested that causes form a family of ‘inus’ conditions, where an inus condition is ‘an insufficient but non-redundant part of an unnecessary but sufficient condition’. In this essay the needed concepts of BST theory are developed in detail, and it is then proved that the causae causantes of a given outcome event have exactly the structure of a set of Mackie inus conditions. The proof requires the assumption that there is no EPR-like ‘funny business’. This seems enough to constitute a theory of ‘causation’ in at least one of its many senses.


The cement of the universe


3.1 First definitions and postulates

3.2 Ontology: propositions

3.3 Ontology: initial events

3.4 Ontology: outcome events

3.5 Ontology: transition events

3.6 Propositional language applied to events

Causae causantes

4.1 Causae causantes are basic primary transition events

4.2 Causae causantes of an outcome chain

4.3 No funny business

Causae causantes and inns and inus conditions

5.1 Inns conditions of outcome chains: not quite

5.2 Inns conditions of outcome chains

5.3 Inns conditions of scattered outcome events

5.4 Inus conditions for disjunctive outcome events

5.5 Inns and inus conditions of transition events

Counterfactual conditionals

Appendix: Tense and modal connectives in BST

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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