Abstract

For at least three decades, philosophers have argued that general causation and causal explanation are contrastive in nature. When we seek a causal explanation of some particular event, we are usually interested in knowing why that event happened rather than some other specified event. And general causal claims, which state that certain event types cause certain other event types, seem to make sense only if appropriate contrasts to the types of events acting as cause and effect are specified. In recent years, philosophers have extended the contrastive theory of causation to encompass singular causation as well. In this article, I argue that this extension of the theory was a mistake. Although general causation and causal explanation may well be contrastive in nature, singular causation is not.

  • 1Introduction

  • 2The Contrastive Account of Singular Causation

  • 3Against the Contrastive Account

  • 4The Semantics of Contrastive Causal Statements

  • 5Are Binary Causal Statements Ambiguous?

  • 6Extensionality

  • 7General Causation and Causal Explanation

  • 8Conclusion

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