Actual causation and compositionality

Jonathan Livengood, Justin Sytsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many theories of actual causation implicitly endorse the claim that if c is an actual cause of e, then either c causes e directly or every intermediary by which c indirectly causes e is itself both an actual cause of e and also an actual effect of c. We think this composi-tionality constraint is plausible. However, as we show, it is not always satisfied by the causal attributions ordinary people make. We conclude by considering what philosophers working on causation should do when the deliverances of their theories diverge from what ordinary people say.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-69
Number of pages27
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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