Absence Causation and a Liberal Theory of Causal Explanation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):688-705 (2015)
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For the framework of event causation—i.e. the framework according to which causation is a relation between events—absences or omissions pose a problem. Absences, it is generally agreed, are not events; so, under the framework of event causation, they cannot be causally related. But, as a matter of fact, absences are often taken to be causes or effects. The problem of absence causation is thus how to make sense of causation that apparently involves absences as causes or effects. In an influential paper, Helen Beebee offers a partial solution to the problem by giving an account of causation by absence. I argue that Beebee's account can be extended to cover causation of absence as well. More importantly, I argue that the extended Beebeeian account calls for a major modification to David Lewis's theory of causal explanation, usually taken as standard. Compared to the standard theory, the..
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