Journal Article

Causation: An Alternative

Wolfgang Spohn

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, issue 1, pages 93-119
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online December 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Causation: An Alternative

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The paper builds on the basically Humean idea that A is a cause of B iff A and B both occur, A precedes B, and A raises the metaphysical or epistemic status of B given the obtaining circumstances. It argues that in pursuit of a theory of deterministic causation this ‘status raising’ is best explicated not in regularity or counterfactual terms, but in terms of ranking functions. On this basis, it constructs a rigorous theory of deterministic causation that successfully deals with cases of overdetermination and pre-emption. It finally indicates how the account's profound epistemic relativization induced by ranking theory can be undone.


Variables, propositions, time

Induction first


Redundant causation


Journal Article.  12280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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