A difference-making account of causation

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Pietsch, Wolfgang
conference paper description
A difference-making account of causality is proposed that is based on a counterfactual definition, but differs from traditional counterfactual approaches to causation in a number of crucial respects: (i) it introduces a notion of causal irrelevance; (ii) it evaluates the truth-value of counterfactual statements in terms of difference-making; (iii) it renders causal statements background-dependent. On the basis of the fundamental notions 'causal relevance' and 'causal irrelevance', further causal concepts are defined including causal factors, alternative causes, and importantly inus-conditions. Problems and advantages of the proposed account are discussed. Finally, it is shown how the account can shed new light on three classic problems in epistemology, the problem of induction, the logic of analogy, and the framing of eliminative induction.