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But the explanatory power is not thereby increased. That power resides in the notion of an exceeded breaking point. For counter-examples to the Popper-Hempel models of explanation, see, for example, S. Colodny , sec. V, pp. For additional conditions to meet these and other counter-examples, see forthcoming papers by J. The Integrative Action of the Nervous System ed. In a letter quoted by C. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding , sec. See Bromberger, op. See Physica II, 3; J.

McTaggart, Philosophical Studies 7 , pp. See J. Alfred J. Purine-rich foods: an innocent bystander of gout attacks? Benyanmin, B. Novel loci affecting iron homeostasis and their effects in individuals at risk for hemochromatosis. Flais, J. Hyperferritinemia increases the risk of hyperuricemia in HFE-hereditary hemochromatosis. Joint Bone Spine 84 , — Download references. Correspondence to Pascal Richette. Reprints and Permissions. Advanced search. Skip to main content. Article metrics Citations 0. Altmetric 4.

More details Article metrics. Subjects Disease genetics Gout Risk factors. Rent or Buy article Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube. References 1. Article Google Scholar 3. Some attempts to defend manipulability theories are recent accounts that don't claim to reduce causality to manipulation. These accounts use manipulation as a sign or feature in causation without claiming that manipulation is more fundamental than causation. Some theorists are interested in distinguishing between causal processes and non-causal processes Russell ; Salmon As an example, a ball moving through the air a process is contrasted with the motion of a shadow a pseudo-process.

The former is causal in nature while the latter is not. Salmon [44] claims that causal processes can be identified by their ability to transmit an alteration over space and time. An alteration of the ball a mark by a pen, perhaps is carried with it as the ball goes through the air.

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On the other hand, an alteration of the shadow insofar as it is possible will not be transmitted by the shadow as it moves along. These theorists claim that the important concept for understanding causality is not causal relationships or causal interactions, but rather identifying causal processes. The former notions can then be defined in terms of causal processes. For the scientific investigation of efficient causality, the cause and effect are each best conceived of as temporally transient processes. Within the conceptual frame of the scientific method , an investigator sets up several distinct and contrasting temporally transient material processes that have the structure of experiments , and records candidate material responses, normally intending to determine causality in the physical world.

The quantity of carrot intake is a process that is varied from occasion to occasion. The occurrence or non-occurrence of subsequent bubonic plague is recorded. To establish causality, the experiment must fulfill certain criteria, only one example of which is mentioned here. For example, instances of the hypothesized cause must be set up to occur at a time when the hypothesized effect is relatively unlikely in the absence of the hypothesized cause; such unlikelihood is to be established by empirical evidence. A mere observation of a correlation is not nearly adequate to establish causality.

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In nearly all cases, establishment of causality relies on repetition of experiments and probabilistic reasoning. Hardly ever is causality established more firmly than as more or less probable. It is most convenient for establishment of causality if the contrasting material states of affairs are precisely matched, except for only one variable factor, perhaps measured by a real number.

One has to be careful in the use of the word cause in physics. Properly speaking, the hypothesized cause and the hypothesized effect are each temporally transient processes. For example, force is a useful concept for the explanation of acceleration, but force is not by itself a cause. More is needed. For example, a temporally transient process might be characterized by a definite change of force at a definite time. Such a process can be regarded as a cause. Causality is not inherently implied in equations of motion , but postulated as an additional constraint that needs to be satisfied i.

This constraint has mathematical implications [47] such as the Kramers-Kronig relations. Causality is one of the most fundamental and essential notions of physics. Otherwise, reference coordinate systems could be constructed using the Lorentz transform of special relativity in which an observer would see an effect precede its cause i.

Causal notions appear in the context of the flow of mass-energy. Any actual process has causal efficacy that can propagate no faster than light.


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In contrast, an abstraction has no causal efficacy. Its mathematical expression does not propagate in the ordinary sense of the word, though it may refer to virtual or nominal 'velocities' with magnitudes greater than that of light. For example, wave packets are mathematical objects that have group velocity and phase velocity. The energy of a wave packet travels at the group velocity under normal circumstances ; since energy has causal efficacy, the group velocity cannot be faster than the speed of light.

The phase of a wave packet travels at the phase velocity; since phase is not causal, the phase velocity of a wave packet can be faster than light. Causal notions are important in general relativity to the extent that the existence of an arrow of time demands that the universe's semi-Riemannian manifold be orientable, so that "future" and "past" are globally definable quantities. A causal system is a system with output and internal states that depends only on the current and previous input values. A system that has some dependence on input values from the future in addition to possible past or current input values is termed an acausal system, and a system that depends solely on future input values is an anticausal system.

Acausal filters, for example, can only exist as postprocessing filters, because these filters can extract future values from a memory buffer or a file. See Bradford-Hill criteria. He did not note however, that temporality is the only necessary criterion among those aspects. Directed acyclic graphs DAGs are increasingly used in epidemiology to help enlighten causal thinking. Psychologists take an empirical approach to causality, investigating how people and non-human animals detect or infer causation from sensory information, prior experience and innate knowledge.

Attribution theory is the theory concerning how people explain individual occurrences of causation. Attribution can be external assigning causality to an outside agent or force—claiming that some outside thing motivated the event or internal assigning causality to factors within the person—taking personal responsibility or accountability for one's actions and claiming that the person was directly responsible for the event.

Taking causation one step further, the type of attribution a person provides influences their future behavior. The intention behind the cause or the effect can be covered by the subject of action. See also accident ; blame ; intent ; and responsibility. Whereas David Hume argued that causes are inferred from non-causal observations, Immanuel Kant claimed that people have innate assumptions about causes. Within psychology, Patricia Cheng [9] attempted to reconcile the Humean and Kantian views.

Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?

According to her power PC theory, people filter observations of events through an intuition that causes have the power to generate or prevent their effects, thereby inferring specific cause-effect relations. Our view of causation depends on what we consider to be the relevant events. Another way to view the statement, "Lightning causes thunder" is to see both lightning and thunder as two perceptions of the same event, viz. David Sobel and Alison Gopnik from the Psychology Department of UC Berkeley designed a device known as the blicket detector which would turn on when an object was placed on it.

Their research suggests that "even young children will easily and swiftly learn about a new causal power of an object and spontaneously use that information in classifying and naming the object. Some researchers such as Anjan Chatterjee at the University of Pennsylvania and Jonathan Fugelsang at the University of Waterloo are using neuroscience techniques to investigate the neural and psychological underpinnings of causal launching events in which one object causes another object to move. Both temporal and spatial factors can be manipulated.

See Causal Reasoning Psychology for more information. Statistics and economics usually employ pre-existing data or experimental data to infer causality by regression methods. The body of statistical techniques involves substantial use of regression analysis. Typically a linear relationship such as. This belief can be established in one of several ways. Second, the instrumental variables technique may be employed to remove any reverse causation by introducing a role for other variables instruments that are known to be unaffected by the dependent variable.


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  • Third, the principle that effects cannot precede causes can be invoked, by including on the right side of the regression only variables that precede in time the dependent variable; this principle is invoked, for example, in testing for Granger causality and in its multivariate analog, vector autoregression , both of which control for lagged values of the dependent variable while testing for causal effects of lagged independent variables.

    Regression analysis controls for other relevant variables by including them as regressors explanatory variables. This helps to avoid false inferences of causality due to the presence of a third, underlying, variable that influences both the potentially causative variable and the potentially caused variable: its effect on the potentially caused variable is captured by directly including it in the regression, so that effect will not be picked up as an indirect effect through the potentially causative variable of interest.

    Given the above procedures, coincidental as opposed to causal correlation can be probabilistically rejected if data samples are large and if regression results pass cross-validation tests showing that the correlations hold even for data that were not used in the regression. For quality control in manufacturing in the s, Kaoru Ishikawa developed a cause and effect diagram, known as an Ishikawa diagram or fishbone diagram.

    The diagram categorizes causes, such as into the six main categories shown here. These categories are then sub-divided. Ishikawa's method identifies "causes" in brainstorming sessions conducted among various groups involved in the manufacturing process. These groups can then be labeled as categories in the diagrams. The use of these diagrams has now spread beyond quality control, and they are used in other areas of management and in design and engineering.

    Ishikawa diagrams have been criticized for failing to make the distinction between necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. It seems that Ishikawa was not even aware of this distinction. In the discussion of history, events are sometimes considered as if in some way being agents that can then bring about other historical events. Thus, the combination of poor harvests, the hardships of the peasants, high taxes, lack of representation of the people, and kingly ineptitude are among the causes of the French Revolution.

    This is a somewhat Platonic and Hegelian view that reifies causes as ontological entities. In Aristotelian terminology, this use approximates to the case of the efficient cause. Some philosophers of history such as Arthur Danto have claimed that "explanations in history and elsewhere" describe "not simply an event—something that happens—but a change". Much of the historical debate about causes has focused on the relationship between communicative and other actions, between singular and repeated ones, and between actions, structures of action or group and institutional contexts and wider sets of conditions.

    According to law and jurisprudence , legal cause must be demonstrated to hold a defendant liable for a crime or a tort i. It must be proven that causality, or a "sufficient causal link" relates the defendant's actions to the criminal event or damage in question. Causation is also an essential legal element that must be proven to qualify for remedy measures under international trade law. Note the concept of omnicausality in Abrahamic theology, which is the belief that God has set in motion all events at the dawn of time; he is the determiner and the cause of all things.

    It is therefore an attempt to rectify the apparent incompatibility between determinism and the existence of an omnipotent god. Vedic period c. The various philosophical schools darsanas provide different accounts of the subject. The doctrine of satkaryavada affirms that the effect inheres in the cause in some way. The effect is thus either a real or apparent modification of the cause. The doctrine of asatkaryavada affirms that the effect does not inhere in the cause, but is a new arising.

    See Nyaya for some details of the theory of causation in the Nyaya school. In Brahma Samhita , Brahma describes Krishna as the prime cause of all causes. I,2 in the Vaisheshika philosophy, from causal non-existence is effectual non-existence; but, not effectual non-existence from causal non-existence. A cause precedes an effect. With a threads and cloth metaphors, three causes are:. Monier-Williams also proposed that Aristotle's and the Nyaya's causality are considered conditional aggregates necessary to man's productive work.

    The general or universal definition of pratityasamutpada or "dependent origination" or "dependent arising" or "interdependent co-arising" is that everything arises in dependence upon multiple causes and conditions; nothing exists as a singular, independent entity. A traditional example in Buddhist texts is of three sticks standing upright and leaning against each other and supporting each other.

    If one stick is taken away, the other two will fall to the ground. Causality in the Chittamatrin Buddhist school approach, Asanga 's c. Because causes precede effects, which must be different entities, then subject and object are different. For this school, there are no objects which are entities external to a perceiving consciousness. The Chittamatrin and the Yogachara Svatantrika schools accept that there are no objects external to the observer's causality.

    This largely follows the Nikayas approach. It has four intricate causal conditioning constructions with the: 1 root cause, 2 immediate antecedent, 3 object support, and 4 predominance. The four conditions and six causes interact with each other in explaining phenomenal experience: for instance, each conscious moment acts both as the homogenous cause, as well as the immediate antecedent consciousness condition rise, and its concomitants, in a subsequent moment.

    The Vaibhashika c. This is based in the consciousness example which says, intentions and feelings are mutually accompanying mental factors that support each other like poles in tripod. In contrast, simultaneous cause and effect rejectors say that if the effect already exists, then it cannot effect the same way again. How past, present and future are accepted is a basis for various Buddhist school's causality viewpoints. All the classic Buddhist schools teach karma.

    The Baha'i concept of causation has been a unifying force for this young religion. The belief in a common biological and ideological ancestry has made it possible for Baha'is to recognize Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Unfortunately, this has led to the systematic persecution of Baha'is by many caliphates. Aristotle identified four kinds of answer or explanatory mode to various "Why? He thought that, for any given topic, all four kinds of explanatory mode were important, each in its own right.

    As a result of traditional specialized philosophical peculiarities of language, with translations between ancient Greek, Latin, and English, the word 'cause' is nowadays in specialized philosophical writings used to label Aristotle's four kinds. Of Aristotle's four kinds or explanatory modes, only one, the 'efficient cause' is a cause as defined in the leading paragraph of this present article. The other three explanatory modes might be rendered material composition, structure and dynamics, and, again, criterion of completion. For the present purpose, that Greek word would be better translated as "explanation" than as "cause" as those words are most often used in current English.

    Another translation of Aristotle is that he meant "the four Becauses" as four kinds of answer to "why" questions. Aristotle assumed efficient causality as referring to a basic fact of experience, not explicable by, or reducible to, anything more fundamental or basic. In some works of Aristotle, the four causes are listed as 1 the essential cause, 2 the logical ground, 3 the moving cause, and 4 the final cause.

    In this listing, a statement of essential cause is a demonstration that an indicated object conforms to a definition of the word that refers to it. A statement of logical ground is an argument as to why an object statement is true. These are further examples of the idea that a "cause" in general in the context of Aristotle's usage is an "explanation". The word "efficient" used here can also be translated from Aristotle as "moving" or "initiating". Efficient causation was connected with Aristotelian physics , which recognized the four elements earth, air, fire, water , and added the fifth element aether.

    Water and earth by their intrinsic property gravitas or heaviness intrinsically fall toward, whereas air and fire by their intrinsic property levitas or lightness intrinsically rise away from, Earth's center—the motionless center of the universe—in a straight line while accelerating during the substance's approach to its natural place.

    As air remained on Earth, however, and did not escape Earth while eventually achieving infinite speed—an absurdity—Aristotle inferred that the universe is finite in size and contains an invisible substance that held planet Earth and its atmosphere, the sublunary sphere , centered in the universe. And since celestial bodies exhibit perpetual, unaccelerated motion orbiting planet Earth in unchanging relations, Aristotle inferred that the fifth element, aither , that fills space and composes celestial bodies intrinsically moves in perpetual circles, the only constant motion between two points.

    An object traveling a straight line from point A to B and back must stop at either point before returning to the other. Left to itself, a thing exhibits natural motion , but can—according to Aristotelian metaphysics —exhibit enforced motion imparted by an efficient cause. The form of plants endows plants with the processes nutrition and reproduction, the form of animals adds locomotion, and the form of humankind adds reason atop these.

    A rock normally exhibits natural motion —explained by the rock's material cause of being composed of the element earth—but a living thing can lift the rock, an enforced motion diverting the rock from its natural place and natural motion. As a further kind of explanation, Aristotle identified the final cause, specifying a purpose or criterion of completion in light of which something should be understood.

    For why does a man walk? Aristotle further discerned two modes of causation: proper prior causation and accidental chance causation. All causes, proper and accidental, can be spoken as potential or as actual, particular or generic.


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    The same language refers to the effects of causes, so that generic effects are assigned to generic causes, particular effects to particular causes, and actual effects to operating causes. Averting infinite regress , Aristotle inferred the first mover—an unmoved mover. The first mover's motion, too, must have been caused, but, being an unmoved mover, must have moved only toward a particular goal or desire. Later in the Middle Ages, many scholars conceded that the first cause was God, but explained that many earthly events occur within God's design or plan, and thereby scholars sought freedom to investigate the numerous secondary causes.

    For Aristotelian philosophy before Aquinas, the word cause had a broad meaning. It meant 'answer to a why question' or 'explanation', and Aristotelian scholars recognized four kinds of such answers. With the end of the Middle Ages , in many philosophical usages, the meaning of the word 'cause' narrowed. It often lost that broad meaning, and was restricted to just one of the four kinds.