Rethinking Cause and Effect

We assume effect follows cause, but is this true?

James Ladyman is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. His work has predominately focused on the philosophy of science and mathematics. He is co-editor of the collection Arguing About Science, an introduction to the essential topics in the philosophy of science.

 

What do we mean by “cause and effect”?

Well, that's very contentious. I'm not quite sure how to answer that. I think, traditionally, a cause is thought to be a sufficient condition for an effect, but that’s if the cause definitely happened.

That's not what people tend to think now. They tend to think there are various causal factors; causation might be probabilistic, it might be all or nothing. I think cause and effect has been blown wide open as science has changed. For one thing, there are all sorts of diverse uses of cause and effect. Adaptation being caused by natural selection, for example, is the kind of causation that can only happen at populat

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