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When I first started thinking about this book, I intended to write a short introduction to the philosophical debates surrounding the concepts of causation and explanation. Part of my motivation was the thought that, although there are quite a few splendid books on either causation or explanation, there was no book treating these two subjects together and aiming to cast light on their connections. As time passed, the short introduction grew bigger and bigger. In fact, it dawned on me that I couldn't adequately address the link between causation and explanation, unless I also wrote extensively about the laws of nature. And that's what I did. As a result, the title of the book should have been Causation, Laws and Explanation. In the end, the word laws was left out, yet the middle part of the book (Laws of Nature) forms its backbone.
The book is broad in scope, but by no means comprehensive. It aims to introduce students to the main theories of causation, laws and explanation. But it also ventures into more recent developments and approaches in these areas, aiming to show that, far from being philosophically sterile, these topics are very much alive and exciting. The book presupposes little knowledge of either metaphysics or philosophy of science and can be used in intermediate and advanced undergraduate courses. Yet I very much hope that professional philosophers, even specialists in these areas, will find it useful.
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