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Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding CausationIssues in Philosophy and Psychology$
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Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack, and Sarah R. Beck

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199590698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590698.001.0001

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Causation First: Why Causation is Prior to Counterfactuals

Causation First: Why Causation is Prior to Counterfactuals

(p.230) 11 Causation First: Why Causation is Prior to Counterfactuals
Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation

Dorothy Edgington

Oxford University Press

Part 1 gives reasons for thinking that causation is about as basic a concept as there is, and so the hope of giving an informative analysis of the reductive sort, ‘c causes e iff…’, is dim. Part 2 has some criticisms of the attempt to give such an account in terms of counterfactuals. Part 3 argues that, conversely, to the extent that there is one standard, default way of understanding counterfactuals, we need to appeal to causal notions in saying what it is. Part 4 argues that even if there is one standard, default way of assessing counterfactuals, perfectly proper uses of the counterfactual conditional are not always of that kind, and, in context, a much wider class of interpretations of them is permissible.

Keywords:   causation, counterfactuals, David Hume, David Lewis

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