A Defense of Causal Invariantism

Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):49-75 (2016)
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Causal contextualism holds that sentences of the form ‘c causes e’ have context-sensitive truth-conditions. We consider four arguments invoked by Jonathan Schaffer in favor of this view. First, he argues that his brand of contextualism helps solve puzzles about transitivity. Second, he contends that how one describes the relata of the causal relation sometimes affects the truth of one’s claim. Third, Schaffer invokes the phenomenon of contrastive focus to conclude that causal statements implicitly designate salient alternatives to the cause and effect. Fourth, he claims that the appropriateness of a causal statement depends on what is contextually taken for granted or made salient. We show that causal invariantism can explain these linguistic data at least as well as contextualism. We then argue that pace Schaffer, some causal sentences are always correct and can never be plausibly denied, regardless of the context.

Author Profiles

Andrew Russo
University of Central Oklahoma
Martin Montminy
University of Oklahoma


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