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Published June 2001 | public
Journal Article

The Intransitivity of Causation Revealed in Equations and Graphs


[Introduction] We live in exciting times. By 'we' I mean philosophers studying the nature of causation. The past decade or so has witnessed a flurry of philosophical activity aimed at cracking this nut, and, surprisingly, real progress has been made. Two developments are especially worthy of note. First, there has been a resurgence of interest in the counterfactual theory of causation, given its best-known formulation by David Lewis. Second, there has been increasing philosophical interest in the techniques of causal modeling developed and employed within fields such as econometrics, epidemiology, and artificial intelligence. These two developments have been largely independent and addressed to different sorts of problems. Work in the counterfactual tradition has been primarily concerned with issues involving "token" or "singular" causation, while work in the second tradition has tended to focus on issues concerning "type-level" or "general" causation.

Additional Information

© 2001 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc. For discussion and comments, thanks go to Martin Barrett, Paul Bartha, Ellery Eells, Clark Glymour, Alan Hdjek, Dan Hausman, Mark Kalderon, Henry Kyburg, Michael McDermott, Laurie Paul, Augustin Rayo, Jonathan Schaffer, Elliott Sober, Jim Woodward, Stephen Yablo, and especially Judea Pearl. Selected by The Philosopher's Annual as one of the ten best articles in the field of Philosophy published in Philosophy in 2001.

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