Page 12 - The Logic of Causation
P. 12


2. The Paradigmic Determination.

Causation, or deterministic causality, varies in strength, according to the precise
combinations of conditioning found to hold between the predications concerned. We may
call the different forms thus identified the determinations of causation.
The paradigm, or basic pattern, of causation is its strongest determination. This has the

If the cause is present, the effect is invariably present;
if the cause is absent, the effect is invariably absent.

Our use, here, of the definite article, as in the cause or the effect, is only intended to
pinpoint the predication under consideration, without meaning to imply that there is only
one such cause or effect in the context concerned. Use of an indefinite article, as in a cause
or an effect, becomes more appropriate when discussing a multiplicity of causes or effects,
which as we shall later see may take various forms.
We may rewrite the above static formula in the following more dynamic expression:

If the cause shifts from absent to present, the effect invariably shifts from absent to
if the cause shifts from present to absent, the effect invariably shifts from present to

We shall presently see how this model is variously reproduced in lesser determinations.
For now, it is important to grasp the underlying principle it reflects.
The essence of causation (or ‘effectuation’) is that when some change is invariably
accompanied by another, we say that the first phenomenon that has changed has
“caused” (or “effected”) the second phenomenon that has changed. In the above model,
the changes involved are respectively from the absence to the presence of the first
phenomenon (called the cause) and from the absence to the presence of the second
phenomenon (called the effect); or vice versa. We may, incidentally, commute this
statement and say that the effect has been caused (or effected) by the cause.
Now, some comments about our terminology here:
The term “change”, here, must be understood in a very broad sense, as referring to any
event of difference, whatever its modality.
 Its primary meaning is, of course, natural change, with reference to time or more to the
point with respect to broader changes in surrounding circumstances . Here, the meaning
is that some object or characteristic of an object which initially existed or appeared,
later did not exist or disappeared (ceasing to be), or vice-versa (coming to be); or
something existed or appeared at one place and time and recurred or reappeared at

The difference between time and circumstance as concepts of reference seems very slim.
How do we pinpoint an undefined 'circumstance' other than with reference to time? Yet the
distinction seems important, since we construct two different types of modality or modes on its
basis. The only answer I can think of for now is that whereas times (e.g. “on 17 August 1999, I
wrote this footnote”) are unrepeatable, circumstances (e.g. “at the time Turkey experienced an
earthquake, I wrote this footnote”) are in principle repeatable. A circumstance is loosely specified
by describing some events in a time (without always intending that reference item to be more than
coincidental – i.e. the earthquake did not cause me to write these comments).
   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17