We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Global Policy Institute

Contact List

Publication details

Reiss, Julian (2013). Contextualising Causation: Part II. Philosophy Compass 8(11): 1076-1090.

Author(s) from Durham


In recent years, a number of philosophers have attempted to fix paradoxes of the counterfactual account of causation by making causation contrastive. In this framework, causation is understood to be not a two-place relationship between a cause and an effect but a three or four-place relationship between a cause, an effect and a contrast on the side of the cause, the effect or both. I argue that contrasting helps resolving certain paradoxes only if an account of admissibility of the chosen set of contrasts is given. I show by means of numerous examples that it is contextual features that determine admissibility. This way, context becomes part of the semantics of causation. I finally argue that once contextualised, explicit contrasting is redundant: causation is therefore a three-place relationship between a cause, an effect and a context.