Analysis and Defense of Sole Singular Causal Claims

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Ennis, Robert H
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conference paper description
To claim that x was the cause of y (or x caused y) is 1) to assume that x was a contributing member of the group of factors that jointly brought about y, and 2) to deem x responsible for the occurrence of y. This deeming is based in part on perspectives and values, though empirical evidence is also very important. A best-explanation argument, including application to cases, is offered in defense of this analysis, which holds that claiming that something is the cause is, in part, a speech act (deeming x to be responsible). Unlike the proposed analysis, suggested alternative explanations do not account for what is reasonably said in all the cases of the selection of the cause.