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Publication details

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

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

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.