Introduction to Special Issue on ‘Actual Causation’

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Erkenntnis, ISSN: 0165-0106, Vol: 78, Issue: S1, Page: 1-8

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Michael Baumgartner, Luke Glynn
Springer Nature, Springer
Arts and Humanities, Mathematics
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An actual cause of some token effect is itself a (distinct) token event (or fact, or state of affairs, …) that helped to bring about that effect. The notion of an actual cause is different from that of a potential cause – for example a pre-empted backup – which had the capacity to bring about the effect, but which wasn't in fact operative on the occasion in question. Sometimes actual causes are also distinguished from mere background conditions: as when we judge that the struck match was a cause of the fire, while the presence of oxygen was merely part of the relevant background against which the struck match operated. Actual causation is also to be distinguished from type causation: actual causation holds between token events in a particular, concrete scenario; type causation, by contrast, holds between event kinds in scenario kinds.

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