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Causality and derivativeness


This paper is a reflection on some of Elizabeth Anscombe's influential work on causation, in particular on some comments in her Inaugural Lecture at Cambridge, published as ‘Causality and Determination’. One of Anscombe's major concerns in that paper is the relation between causation and necessitation, and she critically discusses the cast of mind which links causality with some kind of necessary connection or with exceptionless generalisation. In place of a semi-technical analysis of causation, Anscombe identifies the obvious and yet little considered core of the causal relation as follows:

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1 All references to this paper are to Anscombe's Collected Philosophical Papers Volume II: Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981), pp. 133–47.

2 Ibid., p. 136.

3 Ibid., p. 136.

4 In keeping with the desire to offer something as neutral as possible, I have deliberately stated this account in such a way as to leave open whether we should think of the causal relata a and b as events (a, which is a beheading, causes b, which is a death…), in which case there is a would be read as a occurs, or in some other way (a, which is a cream cake, causes b, which is obesity…).

5 Anscombe emphasises the importance of the notions of interference and prevention, Collected Philosophical Papers, vol. II, p. 147; and compare what I say with the account Anscombe gives of necessity as connected with causation, ibid., pp. 144–45.

6 Ibid., p. 136.

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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