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Lecture 6

PHI 1101 Lecture 6: Chapter 6

Course Code
PHI 1101
Sardar Hosseini

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Thursday, November 5, 2015
Chapter 6
Causal Analysis (Reasoning from Cause and Effect)
-Causation was probably one of the first arguments that philosophers thought about
-Thales (the father of philosophy) apparently the first human being who thought about
causation, the origin of knowledge, philosophy in the 18th century. Paid attention
mostly to the concept of causation. Thought about the origin of the universe. They
thought that the planet was made of earth, air and water, later on Aristotle added fire
and anything beyond the moon is ether (this was proven wrong)
-All these philosophers (Thales, his students, Aristotle) were curious to know what
elements caused existence. This belief is still with us. This is the original / most
fundamental reasoning behind causation.
-Now, scientists and philosophers do not think of causation to figure out who the
universe is created by. It is now not the most fundamental background for inquiry.
-There is more scientific interest in the notion of causation (less philosophical)
-Why causation? The world around us is a messy web of causes and effects.
-Answers to questions about what causes things involve making causal claims. (What
causes the change of the seasons?)
-Causal claim - An assertion about the cause of something
-A causal argument justifies, or supports such a claim.
-Four main interests in causal analysis:
Explanation, pure curiosity / wondering: How do things work? Why did this happen?
Assigning responsibility: If someone was the cause of something good or bad, then
he or she bears the responsibility for it
Control: If we understand cause-effect connections and can control the causes, we
can also control the effects
Prediction: If we know how things work, we can frequently tell in advance what is
going to happen
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Thursday, November 5, 2015
-What is Causation:
-David Hume, one of the most important philosophers in modern philosophy,
formulated the basic analysis of causal relationship. “A causes B”, if the following
conditions met.
-1. If A is contiguous to B - Things are spatially contiguous when they are next to each
other. (space) Yesterday and today are temporally contiguous (time)
-2. If A is prior to B - Cause always has to come before the effect in terms of time.
-3. If A and B are constantly conjoined (constant conjunction or necessary connection)
- There has to be enough conjunction between cause and effect.
-A Causal Argument:
-Very closely related to explanation (non-deductive argument)
-Causal argument is a special case of inductive generalization. (Concluding a
law from observation of certain cases)
-Causal arguments move from a premise that two things are associated or correlated
to a conclusion that the first is not merely related, but causes, the second.
-Ex. Exposure to high levels of secondhand smoke is correlated with lung cancer.
-Therefore, exposure to high levels of secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.
-Four Causes: (Defined originally by Aristotle)
-Final Cause: “The end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, The purpose
(telos, teleology - Greek) e.g. Creating a beautiful statue is the end or goal of
-Efficient Cause: “The primary source of the changing or rest”, An agent that
produces object e.g. The person who has produced the statue. God can be seen as
an efficient cause according to religion
-Material Cause: “That out of which” something is made. Material that something is
made from. e.g. The bronze of a statue.
-Formal Cause: “The form” or “the account of what-it-is-to-be” e.g. The form or shape
that objects have, the shape of the statue.
-Now, most of these causes are irrelevant except efficient.
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