What is Causality?

Meaning and Definition of Causality

Causality is the agent that links two cases, one of cause and the other of effect, understanding that the first is responsible, at least in part, for the existence of the second, so that the second depends on the first. It is said “in part” because an effect can have more than one cause in its past.

This is a continuous and reproducible relationship, since an effect can become the cause of other effects in the same way that the cause of an effect can itself be the effect of a previous causal process.

Causality is an abstraction indicating how the world progresses, a concept so fundamental that it qualifies more appropriately as an explanation of other concepts of progression than as something to be explained by other more basic concepts, causality is one normally accepted as a principle. .

Because it is so fundamental, a leap of intuition may be necessary to understand causality, by analyzing the progress of events, observing their effectiveness.

Because of this, the explanation of causality is built into the conceptual structure of everyday language.

Although it is a topic in full use and discussion in contemporary philosophy, the concept of causality has been present in philosophy since Aristotle. In Aristotelian philosophy, the word “cause” is also used to mean “explanation” or “answer to a question”, more particularly questions that begin with “why”, therefore those that necessarily demand an explanation.

Aristotle warns that the inability to recognize what different types of “cause” are being considered in an explanation or discussion can lead to useless debate, and therefore determines four types of cause: material, formal, efficient and final. In this way, he establishes the “cause” as the fundamental content of the explanation.

This approach gives rise to numerous debates, especially in the field of metaphysics.

The deterministic approach defends a vision of our universe in which its history is presented as a progression of events, followed one after another by a succession of causes and effects. This approach has two aspects, the Compatibilist and the Incompatibilist.

The incompatibilist version defends that there is no free will (free choice), because everything that happens to us is determined by previous causes. The compatibilist view, as its name suggests, assumes that free will is compatible with a causal universe, since cause and effect may even be necessary for the existence of free will.

Another classic question concerns how causes and effects can be different kinds of entities. The most common example is the explanation of the efficient cause, as presented by Aristotle. According to the Greek philosopher, an action can be a cause, while an enduring object dependent on this action is the effect of this cause.

In Aristotle’s explanation, the actions of a person’s parents can be considered the efficient cause of that person’s existence. Thus, the person, as a lasting object, which the philosophical tradition calls “substance”, will be the effect.

Another point of view on this same issue is that it treats cause and effect as the same type of entity, but with an asymmetric (unequal) relationship between them.

Grammatically speaking, it would make sense to say that “A is the cause and B is the effect” or “B is the cause and A is the effect”, however only one of these statements could be true. A and B would be the same type of entity, but put in an asymmetric relationship.

The exact nature of these entities would not be strictly defined, but would function as “states of affairs” (situations) or “processes” in an event.

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