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Causation in Grammatical Structures$
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Bridget Copley and Fabienne Martin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672073.001.0001

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Theories of causation should inform linguistic theory and vice versa

Theories of causation should inform linguistic theory and vice versa

Chapter:
(p.10) (p.11) 2 Theories of causation should inform linguistic theory and vice versa
Source:
Causation in Grammatical Structures
Author(s):

Bridget Copley

Phillip Wolff

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672073.003.0002

This chapter offers a basic introduction to the different approaches philosophers take to causation. These approaches may be divided into two categories: dependency theories, in which a cause C causes an effect E just in case E depends on C in some way (familiar to linguists through David Dowty’s 1979 adaptation of David Lewis’s 1973 theory of causation), and production theories, in which C causes E just in case a certain configuration of influences holds of C and E, or some conserved quantity is transmitted from C to E. The chapter argues that a familiarity with these theories would be fruitful for linguists working on causation in language, and give examples (defeasible causation, agentivity, and causal chain mappings) where the choice of causal theory has ramifications for the linguistic theory. The chapter argues further that linguistic theory has the potential to inform philosophers and cognitive scientists working on causation as well.

Keywords:   causation, causal chains, causal modeling, formal semantics, probabilities, agentivity, dispositions, volitionality, lexical causatives, periphrastic causatives

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