Causation: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199684434

Stephen Mumford; Rani Lill Anjum
144 ページ
114 x 173 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • Thought-provoking introduction to a core topic in philosophy
  • An engaging introduction to the key theories of causation and the surrounding debates and controversies
  • Explores the integral part causation plays in a number of different areas, including physics, biology, law, technology, medicine, and economics
  • Explains the key issues through a series of questions relating to the big issues

Causation is the most fundamental connection in the universe. Without it, there would be no science or technology. There would be no moral responsibility either, as none of our thoughts would be connected with our actions and none of our actions with any consequences. Nor would we have a system of law because blame resides only in someone having caused injury or damage. 

Any intervention we make in the world around us is premised on there being causal connections that are, to a degree, predictable. It is causation that is at the basis of prediction and also explanation. This Very Short Introduction introduces the key theories of causation and also the surrounding debates and controversies. Do causes produce their effects by guaranteeing them? Do causes have to precede their effects? Can causation be reduced to the forces of physics? And are we right to think of causation as one single thing at all?


Introduction: why causation?
1: The problem, or: what's the matter with causation?
2: Regularity, or: causation without connection?
3: Time and space, or: do causes occur before their effects?
4: Necessity, or: do causes guarantee their effects?
5: Counterfactual dependence, or: do causes make a difference?
6: Physicalism, or: is it all transference?
7: Pluralism, or: is causation many different things?
8: Primitivism, or: is causation the most basic thing?
9: Dispositionalism, or: what tends to be?
10: Finding causes, or: where are they?
A very short afterword
Further reading


Stephen Mumford, Professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, and Rani Lill Anjum, Research Fellow in Philosophy, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)
Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He has written several books on this topic, including Dispositions (OUP, 1998), Laws in Nature (Routledge, 2004), Getting Causes from Powers (with Rani Lill Anjum, OUP, 2011), and Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012).

Rani Lill Anjum is Research Fellow at the Norwegian University of Life Science where she leads the Causation in Science research project (CauSci). CauSci is a global network for those interested in a scientifically informed philosophy of causation. She has written many popular articles in magazines and newspapers and delivered numerous talks for non-specialist audiences. She is the co-author of Getting Causes from Powers (OUP, 2011).