Single Idea 8400

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 5. Direction of causation]

Full Idea

It is not just that the earlier member of a cause-effect pair is conventionally called the cause; it is also connected with other temporal asymmetries that play an important role in our practices. We tend to explain later events in terms of earlier ones.

Gist of Idea

Identifying cause and effect is not just conventional; we explain later events by earlier ones


Hartry Field (Causation in a Physical World [2003], 1)

Book Reference

'The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics', ed/tr. Loux,M /Zimmerman,D [OUP 2005], p.436

A Reaction

We also interfere with the earlier one to affect the later one, and not vice versa (Idea 8363). I am inclined to think that attempting to explain the direction of causation is either pointless or hopeless.

Related Idea

Idea 8363 p is a cause and q an effect (not vice versa) if manipulations of p change q [Wright,GHv]