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Why is a computer scientist quoted in an article giving a description of how quantum physics relates to causality? Will he also tell me the best way yo construct a short story? He may work in quantum computing but I still believe he is not an expert on the global implications of QM.

I must request that a more balanced quote from a reputable physicist is placed there as his particular quote sheds an unwarranted skepticism on the notion of causality. Quantum physics does not impact the notion that:

"If y occurs, then there must be a necessary cause x."

What it does imply that if x occurs, y does not necessarily occur.

The vast majority of philosophers do not believe we live in a voodoo universe where entities can: a) cause themselves to exist, when they themselves do not exist. b) come into existence without a cause.

There are those who do believe this, and they can and should have a balanced voice under a criticism section.

-- (talk) 18:53, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

In a similar note, its important to remember that you probably can't negate yourself from reality by noticing that nothing about being human makes sense in any non-circular fashion. And if you can, well, you probably wont mind afterwards in any case. Chardansearavitriol (talk) 22:30, 31 January 2011 (UTC)


Fitness and exercise are not reciprocal because fitness does not cause exercise. -FoxMajik (talk) 00:07, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Mill’s Methods[edit]

This should certainly include a discussion and prominent reference to Mill's Methods--Lbeaumont 22:50, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

no such thing as morality[edit]

Ridiculous to state that there is "no such thing as morality". Depends on the definition. It certainly doesn't empirically follow from the deterministic world view that morality doesn't exist. Morality is just another effect caused by the workings of the human mind, etc. Unless the authors want to get into morality, which is so vast a subject that it is best left to a subject by itself, I suggest this quaint reference be eliminated.


Added: Derivation Theories[edit]

I added (as of November 5, 2005) an important line of work in causation by the Nobel Prize Laureate Herbert Simon. I believe I correctly placed it, but I made up the term "Derivation Theories." This work was the root for much other work (for example, the 'probability theories', and the entire discipline of Causal Modelling, I believe) but is rarely taken in its own, much more universal and fundamental, right. I would not have made up "Derivation Theories" except that it seems to perfectly capture their discovery and cannot find any categorization of their often cited work anywhere. In any event, their work is unique and is certainly not the same as the other work cited. user: Robert Thibadeau

Delete 'Causality, nihilism, and existentialism'?[edit]

As it stands (as of October 13th, 2005), the section is an irrevelevant and simple-minded rant. Anyone else in favour? Thomas Ash

The association of Nietzsche with nihilism and claims that his later insanity abrogate his thought ("an example of what happens to nihlists", to sum up the position) is a misrepresentation in respect to the former and complete anti-Nietzsche rubbish in respect to the latter. Needs heavy editing if this section is to stay, including the title.


The section on Hume describes his views on induction, not causality (as of October 13th, 2005). Thomas Ash


The topics "causality" and "causation" should be a "pointer page," if in fact there is a significant body of physics research about causality, that should properly be so titled. There is, of course, a very old tradition of analyzing the notion of causality in philosophy, which continues robustly to this day; philosophers, to my knowledge, don't pay much attention to what physicists have to say on the topic, but then, this isn't my area. Anyway, if indeed there is a body of physics research into causality per se, then we might have a causality (physics) page as well as causality (philosophy) or causation (philosophy) page. In any case, it's certainly the case that what physicists have said on the topic should not be billed as the only thing Wikipedia has to say on the topic.

A body of physics research into causality? I think that would be the entire field of mechanics... Jaleho
Actually, there is a better crossover between Physics and Philosophy in the area of Metaphysics, that defines things beyond Mechanics. Therein according to my enumeration, Mechanics consists of four major subcategories: Physics and Chemistry embody the scope of the "ordinary Mechanics" you are thinking of; but there is a broader Mechanics that includes Biological Evolution and the first human structure called "Orthodoxical Society." Why are these a valid single category of Mechanics? You'd better see my user page. But Causation is in ancient thought and modern defined as the thought underlying materiality and acting through the forces or Gods, affecting the mechanics in a miraculous way. Only in a rather flattened way is it only cause-effect of Mechanics alone.

--Xgenei 11:15, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Speaking as a philosopher, not as a physicist, the following looks like a lot of pseudoscientific, pseudophilosophical rubbish to me. I'm familiar with Osher Doctorow from Nupedia, and I have serious doubts that anything from him deserves such prominent mention in any Wikipedia article. As for the physics, there might be something salvagable in it--for all I know, it's a good start, but I know nothing about physicists' approach to this otherwise purely philosophical topic, so I couldn't say. In the meantime, I'd like to request that a physicist (other than Osher Doctorow) have a look at this and give his or her opinion. --Larry_Sanger
I believe the overall content of the article is sufficient to imply that the discussion is philosophical in nature. Cross-platform confrontational nature and pre-existing hatred notwithstanding, philosophy is inherently subjective and can be neither true nor false.
-FoxMajik (talk) 00:13, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the text below is mostly rubbish. AxelBoldt

Causality or causation in mathematics/physics may be considered to have begun its modern treatment by Professor Garrett Birkhoff of Harvard in the 1950s, who considered that causation is embodied in time-related differential equations (ordinary or partial) because they involve time and because they involve change through time whereby intuitively an independent variable x or t influences a dependent variable y, although derivatives/rates of change of y with respect to time (velocity, speed, acceleration, etc.) may also do the influencing.
Although David Hume in the 1700s had given up on the possibility of locating the exact connection involved in causality/causation, Birkhoff felt that differential equations involving time embody what (in historical/philosophical language) Hume had been trying to analyze. In reply to the question of how the influencing variable x at time t influences variable y at an immediately later time, which of course is in a sense incapable of formulation since there is no immediately later event, Birkhoff's PDEs (partial differential equations) and ODEs (ordinary differential equations) rely on limits, noting that lim [f(t + h) - f(t)]/h as h--> 0, when it exists, is the derivative f'(t), which is the instantaneous rate of change of f at time t, but can also be regarded as the influence of time t on an infinitesimally small increment f(t + h) when h is positive but approaches 0 (from the right). Although the approach to 0 from the left seems to complicate things, it does not change the above facts.
The next major step forward in causation/causality was its application to probability-statistics by Marleen and Osher Doctorow, in their paper "On the nature of causation", (Philosophy of Education Proceedings 1983), based on seminars and talks in the previous years in part, in which they formulated a probability-statistics criterion for causation/causality. See abstracts of 72 of their papers (publications, papers presented, technical reports, and some better internet contributions) at, Institute for Logic of the University of Vienna. After accessing the site, select in this exact order:
  • Doctorow, Osher and/or Doctorow, Marleen

Ceteris Paribus[edit]

I removed the paragraph:

In reality ceteris paribus analyses are always false. Causality is always multipolar. Only abstractions can create a circle with a single pen, in reality a circle is always caused by multiple forces that flux in a point. Such kind of Platonic causality, far more realistic than simple unicausal Aristotelian thought proper to western science, however has only been developed in Eastern philosophy.
  • ceteris paribus ("all other things being equal") analyses are not "always false"; one can question their utility in a world where one cannot control "all other things", but this seems a bit over the top to me.
  • Only abstractions can create a circle... is too poetic to make any sense; at any rate this assertion is not backed up by any argument.
  • ... has only been developed in Eastern Philosophy. is contradicted by the paragraph following in the article, as well as by the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics (amongst others).

Not that my additions are flawless, but this just seemed rather non-NPOV to me.

Cheers. Chas zzz brown 23:38 Oct 26, 2002 (UTC)

Causality (physics)[edit]

I have moved a lot of what was in the "Physics" section of this page to causality (physics) and have added a link to that page. There was some text in the physics section that didn't seem to me to have much to do with physics, so it was placed under the new heading of "philosophy".

--Anakolouthon 22:41 3 Jul 2003 (UTC)

"Physicists conclude that certain elemental forces: gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and electromagnetism are said to be the four fundamental forces which are the causes of all other events in the universe. " -- This is on a more fundamental level not true in several ways, and in a more everyday sense irrelevant. I'm not sure what is the point of putting that sentence there, but it's irrelevant to the article and badly worded.

Band Cause and Effect[edit]

There is a band named "Cause and Effect", a consulting group and a charity organization called

I'm not sure what the best way to fit them in would be, seeing as the current Cause and effect page is nothing but a redirect. Jaleho - A WikiNewbie

Welcome to Wikipedia, Jaleho! I would suggest expanding that redirect page into a disambiguation page that lists all those items as well as listing, and linking to, this article. It might be a good article-building exercise for you. --Gary D 18:11, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)
P.S.: Jaleho, it's a good practice to date as well as sign your talk page entries; I usually just hit the button second from the right above the edit box, which does both. Had the contributors above done this, it would be easier for you to know that your Physics/Mechanics comment above was responding to comments made two and a half years ago whose authors have probably moved on. Cheers! --Gary D 18:18, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)

Causality and Philosophy[edit]

The Programming section of this article (IF...THEN...) is walking very close to the the common confusion of Logical Implication with Causality. It would be worth elucidating the differences.

The Nietzche section violates NPOV. Much of the entire article should probably be moved to a linked page on Determinism

Hume's view may not be accurately presented. He does not argue there might be some other intermediate causal explanation, but argues against causality entirely.

As pointed out in one section (regarding moon's gravity causing tides) there are problems with the temporal requirements for causal claims.

Lightning may be said to cause thunder; OR both lightning & thunder may be thought of as two manifestations of the same event (electrical discharge) which just happen to have a temporal separation. This argument hinges somewhat on the definition of lightning.

Neccesary vs. sufficient condition discussion would also be relevant. Also discussion (relevant to Hume) of the protype case of causality - Our linguistic framework that has us as agents in the universe.

--JimWae 22:30, 2004 Nov 18 (UTC)


The example using TCP, IP packets, and HTTP headers in the "Aristotle" subsection will be generally incomprehensible to most people who are not terribly familiar with computers (a massive subset, even of wikipedia readership). Trust me. In the social science PhD program at a prominent institution that I attend, most of the other graduate students don't know the real difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet. I think it would be better if one could reword the example in terms of something which assumed a less specific cultural background. Just a suggestion. (if no one objects, I'd rather use the example which Heidegger uses in The Question Concerning Technology, but I don't know when I'll have the time to type that up) --Fastfission 04:10, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Organizing Disambig Sections[edit]

Does anyone have an opinion on moving the big chunk of text between the disambig and the table of contents down to the philosophy section, where it can be better blended with the text down there (some things seem to be repeated, or would make more sense closer together), and the top of the page being changed to something much shorter like "causality seeks to explain how causes and effects are related. Law, physics and philosophy all have their own ways of dealing with the concept" and then go into the sections?

--Jaleho 15:45, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Causality a Fact?[edit]

It is interesting to note that causality is taken as an unquestionable fact. Since I have a serious objection (see my page:, I'll take a liberty to add a sentence under Science. My explanation might be disputed - but the issue of degree of replication of an experiment stays. Also. I have noted that there were severl attempts to add a reference to my web-site followed by a prompt removal. I understand that it might be not "up to standard" required by Wickipedia - however, questions raised will not "go away" so easy.


Damir Ibrisimovic

However, the issue of to which degree a scientific experiment is replicable has been often raised but rarely addressed. The fact that no experiment is entirely replicable questions some core assumptions in science.
  • Why HOWEVER? Explain why such is a FACT - I gather you mean that not everything can be exactly the same twice - but when searching for causes, it is important to isolate the cause anyway, so other changes are part of the process - or are you saying that something else unknown that does not change might be relevant?

There are, essentialy, two kinds of views on causality. Some call them "hard" and "soft". The "hard" view as in and holds that if all of the causes are known we should be able to compute the whole future of the universe. Basically - deterministic picture of our universe. The "soft" view holds that there is an element of chance in chains of causes and effects. Basically - probabilistic/deterministic picture. (There is also a mixture of both, since even "hard determinists" admit that "knowing all of the causes" is hard even to contemplate.)

This brings us to:

Scientists and skeptics may implicitly favour causal determinism because it does not allow for any supernatural explanations of reality.

There are two interesting things here:

  • Implicit expression of belief (religion) that there are "all of the causes", although we might be knowing only few of them.
  • The reason that such view does not does not allow for any supernatural explanation ironically leads directly towards a supernatural explanation. (Pierre-Simon Laplace)

The fact about replicability is here essential to properly outline these two views and have an unbiased approach. (If you wish, you might like to expand on this.)

I'm forming the third (tuning), but this does not have to be mentioned here, unless somebody thinks otherwise.


Damir Ibrisimovic

ps: I'm new arround here and could not figure out to whom I'm speaking. My apologies for omitting salutation line.

- The premise to make those two points is incorrect. Personally i have disagreements with the second half of the statement, but the fact of the matter is that causal determinism is favored is incorrect. The Bohr-Einstein debates are about the uncertainty principle which Einstein disagreed with Bohr not because his reasons were scientific, but rather personal belief. He just didn't agree that uncertainty was a limit to what could be known. This is not in proper format, and purpose was just to raise the objection. This was regarding science. However Aristotle also raised a similar notion in addition to his teacher Plato's Forms. This is not an original notion and this is for discussion. thus probably will be taken down soon and not in proper format. Also im not and that gives more reason. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:08, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Some fundamental problems[edit]

It's very difficult to talk about causality in everyday language. Maybe that is what is wrong with this article. A fundamental question probably should be handled in the topmost part of this article: Is it intended to describe what all kinds of people call "cause"? Or is it intended to describe the best thinking available on this subject? P0M 23:56, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

Causality and logical implication[edit]

Just a comment. If the difference between causality and logical implication is so important the distinction should be made much more clear. Saying that "something is allowed to go wrong" in the current explanation is vague at best. If the light doesn't come on, why exactly can't you conclude that the switch wasn't thrown? Is this a linguistic convention, or something deeper?

I have reworked the section and removed the stuff following. I think it is not helpful, and perhaps confused regarding the issue. I hope that my new section helps, if there are any further questions, please post. best, --Kzollman 06:54, May 30, 2005 (UTC)

  1. In causal connections "something is allowed to go wrong" to prevent switch S from lighting bulb B, whereas logical statement allow no exceptions. If the bulb does not light, we are not justified in concluding the switch was not thrown, but if T is not a quadrilateral, we are justified in concluding T is not a square. (Throwing switch S is not a sufficient condition for lighting bulb B.)
  2. We are justified in concluding (if we know the circuit arrangement in full is simple series) that if the switch is not thrown, then the bulb will not light; but we are not justified in saying that if Q is not a square, then Q is not a quadrilateral. (Throwing switch S is a necessary condition for lighting bulb B.)
  3. Some uses of (if...then...) may appear "magical" if construed as causal: If you want ice cream, there's some in the freezer.
  4. Some statements of material implication have no parallel to causal statements: If he's an expert, then I'm a monkey's uncle.
Truth Table for Material Implication: Logical (IF...THEN...)
p q

I think Bradford Hill's article is a place to start.[1] It was a very influential paper in epidemiology on the topic of causality. Causality differs quite significantly from correlation, something I think is frequently not appreciated. I think the causality article in this sense has some serious short comings.
The point is-- it is easy to make a robust correlation. I could surely make a great correlation with shoe size and intelligence ('cause newborns aren't that bright)-- that doesn't mean the relationship is causal. Nephron  T|C 03:21, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Removed content[edit]

I have removed the following content from the introductory section. I think that it is awkward and hard to understand. Even beyond that, I think it gets too specific for the introductory section. If someone thinks its absence harms the article I would suggest rewording it and puting that stuff into an appropriate section (like the section on Hume). best, --Kzollman 03:58, Jun 12, 2005 (UTC)

But this definition is somewhat circular; what does it then really mean to say that A is a reason that B occurs? An important question in philosophy and other fields is to clarify the relationships between causes and effects, as well as how (and even if!) causes can bring about effects.

A causal relation between heat and water boiling:

  • The heating came before the boiling
  • Whenever water is heated sufficiently, then it boils

So sufficient heating is always, or consistently, followed by boiling.

While the perceived observance of causality is quite possibly the most basic pattern in human experience, David Hume held that causes and effects are not real (or at least not knowable), but are habits of our mind to make sense of the observation that A often occurs together with or slightly before B. All we can observe are correlations, not causations; from which we make inductive inferences.

Recent change[edit]

I have recently rearranged the page a bit. I think that things need to be rearranged somehow, although I'm not sure if the direction I'm taking it is best. I would love to hear some discussion of this! --Kzollman 06:44, Jun 24, 2005 (UTC)

I think it is very nice.

On the problem in physics, see which points out:

‘Children lose interest … because a natural interest in the world around them has been replaced by an unnatural acceptance of the soundness of certain views, the correctness of particular opinions and the validity of specific claims.’ – David Lewis, You can teach your child intelligence, Book Club Associates, London, 1982, p. 258.

The problems of speculation in physics about non-causual (purely mathematical) guesswork are discussed at for example where Peter Woit of Columbia University says: 'the danger is that there may be lots of ways of “quantizing gravity”, and with no connection to experiment you could never choose amongst them. String theory became so popular partly because it held out hope for being able to put the standard model and gravity into the same structure. But there’s no reason to believe it’s the only way of doing that, and people should be trying different things in order to come up with some new ideas.'

Gravity is a prime example of the need for causality since all purely speculative attempts at finding predictive equations for quantum gravity have failed. Causality is discussed at and in more detail at

Disambig hell[edit]

Okay, the growing collection of disambig notes at the top finally drove me insane. I have made the following changes:

  • Why now redirects directly to the song, Why (song).
  • Effect is now a disambiguation page, with a reference here.

Also, I have removed the reference to the physics article. It has a reference under that subsection, which accords with other standards for specialized pages. Hopefully, we will have a whole bunch of subpages, and then we won't have space for all the disambig notes. --best, kevin ···Kzollman | Talk··· 00:46, August 12, 2005 (UTC)

Nihilism and determinism?[edit]

The article states that "Nihilists subscribe to a deterministic world-view in which the universe is nothing but a chain of meaningless events following one after another according to the law of cause and effect." Does this follow? A nihilist is simply someone who denies that the world has any meaning or value; determinism is neither a prerequisite for this view, nor follows from it. Many determinists are not nihilists (particularly compatibilists), and a nihilist could easily dismiss determinism as an attempt to impose some sort of order or meaning on the universe.--Cholling 15:24, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Causality, determinism, and existentialism section[edit]

"In light of the difficulty philosophers have pointed out in establishing the validity of causal relations, it might seem that the clearest plausible example of causation we have left is our own ability to be the cause of events. If this is so, then our concept of causation would not prevent seeing ourselves as moral agents."

It's almost ironic that this statement is placed under a heading mentioning "determinism." Whether or not individuals, as agents, can originate causal chains is part of the determinism debate. I realize that "our own ability to be the cause of events" is not necessarily *absolutely* equivalent to "having enough 'free will' to originate causal chains," but contextually it's in dire need of clarification.

Section on Spinoza[edit]

I removed this, as it contained nothing but a long quotation from a commentator who merely explained the standard use of "cause" as used by Spinoza (and most of his contemporaries). The section was replaced with the edit summary: "revert. Samual Shirley's words *about* Spinoza are relevant for the 21st C. reader". This misses the point; I'm aware that the words were about Spinoza — it's just that they said nothing about what was individual about him, and a section made up entirely of a quotation isn't a good thing.

There is something to be said about Spinoza, and if I get time I'll make a start on it, but this wasn't it. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:01, 3 May 2006 (UTC)


While copy-editing a section, I noticed that there are various sections of the article that read like personal essays, often with weasel-worded, uncited claims. The article also needs an overhaul with regard to proper style, wikilinking, etc. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 13:32, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Aristotle was not the first to talk about Causality[edit]

Is there any reason for which the following line should not be deleted?

Aristotle is the first who saw that "All causes of things are beginnings; that we have scientific knowledge when we know the cause; that to know a thing's existence is to know the reason why it is".

Much before Aristotle was born (or caused to be born ;), references to the philosophy of causality were present in the Upanishads


Why does ∴ redirect to this page? It should redirect to a discussion on the mathematical thing but I don't know what article that would be.07:30, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

It's probably redirected here because it means "therefore", which indicates a cause-and-effect relationship. However, as it isn't discussed in the article, you are right that it should point somewhere else, or be its own article. Timrem 02:59, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Therefore redirects here, so I guess unless it had it's own article, the symbol may as well redirect here as well. 'Therefore' is just a case of cause preceeding effect, so it seems reasonable to just have it as a redirect page. Richard001 07:13, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
It's my understanding that "therefore" and the 3-dot symbol for it are both of them chiefly referents to logical inference, not causation. Native speakers of English would more likely write, "The Packers had a terrific defensive line, consequently they won the game," rather than "The Packers had ... therefore they won the game." Consequence is causal, inference is logical. On the other hand, "therefore" works better in this sort of context: "The Packers had more points than their opponents when time ran out, therefore they won the game." --Christofurio 16:52, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree that it should be given its own page and clarified as a symbol. It has a history and is commonly used by mathematicians and scientists. It is an important shorthand usage and should get its own page. 08:02, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Probabilistic causation - example doesn't make sense[edit]

However, a worse point for the probability-raising account of causation is that it has some obvious counterexamples. Say Mary and John both want to break a window. Mary is about to throw a rock at it, but when she sees John throw she puts down her rock. John's rock manages to hit the window, and it breaks. However, Mary is a very good shot, and had an 80% chance of hitting and breaking any window she throws a rock at, while John is a bad shot, and only had a 40% chance of hitting and breaking any window he throws a rock at. Thus, although John intuitively caused the window to break, he actually lowered the probability that it would break (from 80% to 40%) by throwing, since he caused Mary to drop her rock rather than throw it.

This example is a direct conflict with the statement in the introduction:

Finally, the existence of a causal relationship generally suggests that - all other things being equal - if the cause occurs the effect will as well (or at least the probability of the effect occurring will increase).

The example introduces an outside factor which breaks ceteris paribus. The aspect in question is whether John's throwing a stone at the window will increase the probability that it will break, however Mary is a factor outside of this system, and can't be brought into the example unless she is part of the subject being investigated.

If a better example can be substituted this would be ideal, however I'm unsure whether an argument in which outside factors are not involved exists for this case. Richard001 22:37, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Not really: If John hadn't thrown the stone, Mary would have. So John's throwing of the stone caused Mary not to throw the stone (making her causaly relevant to the system) and thus overall, reduced the probability that the window would break. Remember that probabalistic causation theories make use of Counterfactual conditionals. Orgone 02:37, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess it does - should the section be added back then? Richard001 00:00, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
The section as it stands would need to be re-written to accommodate this counter-example as there no simple "the idea is that causes raise the probabilities of their effects" statement, perhaps there should be. Here is probaly the best online source of information on the topic: Orgone 21:28, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

However, a worse point for the probability-raising account of causation is that it has some obvious counterexamples. ... Causation as such cannot be reduced to an increase or decrease of probabilities. The counterfactual approach to causation is not sufficient (-> Barukcic, Causality, Sec. Ed. p. 47, pp. 355-356. The mathematical problem of causation is solved. -> http:\\\ or 18:58, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Corrected Session on Necessary and Sufficient Causality[edit]

If 'x' is sufficient to cause 'y', then the presence of 'x' necessarily implies 'y'. If 'z' is allowed to hinder the occurrence of 'y', then 'x' is clearly not sufficient ('x' and not 'z' would be sufficient in this case). See the article Necessary and sufficient conditions. SaintCahier 03:47, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Major cleanup[edit]

Here is a summary of all of my edits today: Edits by Chris53516. I re-organized the material, changed the reference style so that readers can jump to the references, and I reworded the introduction, along with minor edits along the way. The major content of the article, however, still needs to be revised and updated. — Chris53516 (Talk) 15:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Junk bin[edit]

Author seems to be interested in throwing the concept of causality to the junk bin. However, scientists use the concept every day to establish facts, usually with causal IF/THEN statements. Author needs to demonstrate the viability of causality to recognize its usefulness to scientists. IOW, this essay needs more unbiased work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Huh? There is no "author" per se--there are many authors. Did you read the section on Science? — Chris53516 (Talk) 21:53, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Time and causation[edit]

The article should say more about causation and time: the possibility of causes occurring simultaneous with, or even after, their effects. 17:14, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

See Also[edit]

The 'See Also' section contains a number of links to psychology articles, articles on psycho-somatic phenomena, medical articles, and sociology articles that i dont believe are sufficiently relevant to the topic 'Causation'. I am going to start a cleanup of the See Also section, and categorise the links by subject: Physics, Philosophy etc. Orgone 00:18, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. 1Z 00:40, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I hope people are happy with the new setup. In the end i removed Thomas theorem, Stigmata, miracle, Medical error, Flexner Report, Evidence-based medicine, Culture-specific syndrome and Cognitive dissonance from the section on the basis that the section was already very large, and i didnt feel that they were specifically relevant enough to causation. Orgone 00:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

There seems to be ambiguity between the Statistics and the Sociology section. I know this article is of high importance to the Sociology Wikiproject, as i see it, Sociology is relevent to causation mostly through the subject of statistics, so how about we intergrate them? Orgone 01:38, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Redirect page 'Cause'[edit]

The page 'Cause' redirects here. Would it be an idea to add the following template somewhere on this page (Causality):

Or could there be a disambiguation page 'Cause'? Wiki-uk 09:30, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Opening paragraph mistake (I beleive)[edit]

I may be mistaken, but shouldn't the line read twentyFIRST century? Or were these the prevailing assumptions and they only got formally described in 1949 by Max Born?

"up until the twentieth century, three assumptions described by Max Born in 1949 were dominant in the definition of causality" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 05:42, 12 April 2007 (UTC).


"It is worth noticing here that this is just Sowa's opinion - physicists themselves use conventional definition of causality and do not make such claim."

Please explain the "conventional definition" and name the physicists. Note that "an effect is the consequence of a cause" is tautologous and vacuous.

1Z 18:31, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

This page is a complete mess, and yet it (causality) is a most basic concept, a most elementary idea. Fuzzform 03:34, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
On the face of it yes, but deceptively so. Orgone 03:46, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

Yes I agree it is a complete mess. Artman772000 07:35, 28 June 2007 (UTC)artman772000 lets start with a clear simple breakdown.


The suggestion that disambiguation page needs to be in place is correct: This User supports it. Anyone know how to do that?
Cause has a mathematical sense, a philosophical sense, a sociological sense, a religious sense, an economic sense, a teleological sense, and so ...
This article is hard to read (imho), different threads, and not all of a good style.
cause and purpose need dictionary-type articles. As WikiPedia is NOT a dictionary, the proper Wiki solution should apply.
assistance from experienced editor is required.
any suggestions for improving this article -- on the Talkpage here.

&mdash Newbyguesses 14:43, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the disamg. idea. The brief section on causality in history/"the humanities" is especially confusing and could benefit by a room of its own. --Christofurio 14:46, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it is VERY hard to read (see my comment two below). I would be able to follow it much better with the break-up you describe. Artman772000 07:33, 28 June 2007 (UTC)artman772000

process (philosophy)?[edit]

I wasn't sure so I thought I'd ask about using the process (philosophy) disambiguation in the first paragraph of the article. It seems appropriate for the context but it isn't as complete as process link. (Requestion 01:07, 28 May 2007 (UTC))

In 'Counterfactual theories', it is claimed that David Lewis suggests a counterfactual theory as a solution, however in his article "Causation" (OUP, 1993) he suggests it specifically to refute it. luke 6/06/07

My apologies if this question is asked in the wrong section, but... "Salmon (1984) claims that causal processes can be identified by their ability to transmit an alteration over space and time. An alteration of the ball (a mark by a pen, perhaps) is carried with it as the ball goes through the air. On the other hand an alteration of the shadow (insofar as it is possible) will not be transmitted by the shadow as it moves along." I have difficulty understanding this. What if the alteration to the ball also alters its shadow? Were we to cut away part of the ball, instead of merely marking it, the alteration would be carried with the shadow and would the cut to the ball and the changed shadow not both be transmitted over space and time? Or am I just failing to understand the marked ball example? Goateeki (talk) 21:43, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Should Read More Like Encyclopedia Entry[edit]

There is a bigger problem with this page.

It is getting almost impossible to read by the layman. It is supposed to be an encyclopedia; not one man's unreadable treatise of the history of all thought on causation. Hit the high points, but in plainer English. Here is just one of scores of examples within the text: "the asymmetry of the causal relation is unrelated to the asymmetry of any mode of implication that contraposes."

I understand that causation is not a simple concept, but even so an "encyclopedia" entry should be readable and understandable by an intelligent, educated person without philosophical expertise or training. This is also not meant to be a forum for philosophers to debate the subtler points of causality theory to the nth degree. Remember, it is an encyclopedia. I would love to learn the high points about causality in a way that I can comprehend, but I can't here, and believe me I am no dummie (a well-read PhD student at a top-ten university - albeit not well-read in philosophy, causality, or logic, but I should be qualified to understand an encyclopedia).

(One solution to still keep the depth is to drill down with more subtle concepts in links. Check out something like the sections on finance or financial economics; these are huge complicated fields, but the layman can read and read, first getting the overview and then getting more depth as requested. I learned a lot there.) Artman772000 07:30, 28 June 2007 (UTC)artman772000

I generally consider myself to be the "layman" as your say. I'm a college graduate with zero background in philosophy and I can understand this article perfectly. But I fear dumbing it down, because causality is a complicated concept and if you try to distill it to the point that I think you are aiming for, you are GOING to lose some important information.
And also, 'please' put the subject on the subsection heading, not a Caps Lock induced plea to get people to read your comment. It just makes life easier for everyone if we have an accurate index of talk page discussions. Trusilver 07:18, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, I do doubt that you understood this whole article perfectly. I guess there is a sweet spot in there between too simple and too complicated. You know where I think this article falls. Artman772000 07:30, 28 June 2007 (UTC)artman772000

I understand where you are coming from, but I feel the article is at that sweet spot already. Do I understand every single nuance of causality that is being explained here? of course not, it's not my field of study. But I don't expect it to be dumbed down to the place where I can automatically interpret it.
For instance, take a look at Bernoulli's principle. I was a US Air Force pilot and I understand this article completely. If someone told me that this needed to be turned into something anyone could understand I would balk. Becuase it's just something that can't be homogenized into a few paragraphs that anyone can understand. It's a subject that only someone with a very good grasp on aerodynamics can fully get.
By the same token, causality is an important and difficult concept. I think I would prefer not being able to handle every minor nuance and KNOW that the core message is intact, than have it given to me like "Causality for Dummies" and worry that the act of dumbing it down has irrevocably damaged part of its core meaning. Trusilver 07:51, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Four causes[edit]

Should the Aristotelian 'four causes' be merged together somehow? And what about Proximate and ultimate causation, which I've moved from proximate causation today. Perhaps an article discussing the different types of causes all together, such as types of causes could be made? Richard001 07:33, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Where's Hume[edit]

Surely he's ultra important on the subject?Larklight (talk) 21:28, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree. What we mean by "cause" in English today probably owes more to Hume then anyone else. Maybe something about him can be sandwiched in between the the untranslated Japanese Sutra and the account of Kama that has no citations. --Logicalgregory (talk) 04:42, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

And Kant?[edit]

Mutual Causality: "In the table of categories in the Critique of Pure Reason (A 80, B 106), (8) Kant treats community or reciprocity as a logical concept under the category of relation. It is the mutually determining causality of one substance upon another (B109-112). Implying an interaction between active and passive substances, the concept corresponds to the disjunctive judgement." [2] --Kenneth M Burke (talk) 04:13, 26 January 2008 (UTC)


What is the reasoning behind the proposed split? I think this is an interesting idea but I would want to be inherently cautious in approaching a split. Could the person who suggested the split explain what sorts of different articles this would be broken into, and why? Cazort (talk) 15:29, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The cleanup tag was placed in September 2006 by a user who has been blocked indefinitely.
The proposed split tag was placed by User:Piotrus on 18:44, 12 October 2006; his edit summary simply reads "{{Split}})". He's a very active user, specializing in DYK, but doesn't seem to have returned to Causality since then.
The article has problems, but the cleanup tag is too vague (a lot of changes have occurred in 17 months), and the split tag is distracting. I'm removing both. —Yamara 04:23, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
I support the split because when philosophy articles mention causality, they need to be able to link to a specifically philosophical treatment of the issue. For now I link to the Theories section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:57, 10 December 2010 (UTC)


The use of causal relationships;

"In most tests of econometric theory, and certainly for evaluating public policy, the economists goal is to infer that one variable has a causal effect on another variable. Simply finding an association between two or more variable might be suggestive, but unless causality can be established, it is rarely compelling"*

  • Pg. 13 Introductory Econometrics, 3rd Ed. Wooldridge Thomson Higher Education 2006

More should be explained in it's contribution to economics, using "ceteris paribus", as well as the larger picture implications it has on statistical analysis. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gcbeehler (talkcontribs) 17:24, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

"According to Sowa (2000),[2] up until the twentieth century, three assumptions described by Max Born in 1949 were dominant in the definition of causality:"

Is this a typo? Is that supposed to say twenty-first century? If he described them in the twentieth century (1949), then how could they be used before the twentieth century? (talk) 01:05, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Indian philosophy section[edit]

The Indian philosophy section was NOT a combination of nonsense and vandalism.

The first sentence was "The Upanishads (namely Amar Thakrar, Mehul Pateland Neil Kotecha) and some other texts (namely Karma sutras, Amar Dhillon and [[Sameer Gulati]) mention causality."

So I am changing it right away to a brief outline that makes sense, and will further expand this section at a later date.

--AbhinavaH (talk) 14:01, 30 April 2008 (UTC)


Wouldn't a sentence such as "If the first president was not George Washington, then it was George Washington" be logical according to this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:42, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Causality and causation[edit]

Are causality and causation synonyms in philosophy ? They seem to be used as synonyms in the article but not in the introduction. Inwind (talk) 09:44, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Hermeneutical significance of causal relationship in different schools of Indian philosophy length[edit]

I believe that this section is way to long. Someone should try to cut down on the length, divide it up, and get rid of the unrenderable characters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:27, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Physics subsection of Fields Section[edit]

The phrase "This is a corollary of the concept that an effect cannot be greater than the cause." has no citations and is not present in the causality_(physics) article. It's nonsensical, and at the very least warrants further qualifications. Mizvekov (talk) 11:06, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Article quality: requires split[edit]

Quality is not terrible here, but is well below average, but not rock bottom. There are discussions of many views, none that well treated. The section on Theories actually misses the point. The issue of the dual nature of randomness and causation is not even mentioned. The old philosophical issues really need to be separated from the new scientific approaches. Mixing Karma with fish-bone diagrams and Baysian networks just does not fly. At the moment this is gumbo, not a coherent article. But it will take major effort to clean this up. A split will be the first step. History2007 (talk) 21:27, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree entirely and suggest that it be split along disciplinary lines. E.g. Western Philosophy, Japanese theology, Indian philosophy, physics, management etc.

There needs to be a distinction between work that seeks to determine what causality is (what the word “cause” means and entails) and work that seeks to determine how causality operates. In other words a distinction between logical accounts of causality and empirical accounts of causality.--Logicalgregory (talk) 04:24, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

There is no such distinction we can make without taking a side in various philosophical debates, and WP should stay neutral.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:33, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

See and please contribute to User:ZuluPapa5/Causal_Learning which may help identify the approaches to "Causal learning" Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 03:46, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Improvement is welcome, but I would strongly advise not to split the article along disciplinary lines, since I think it is a single subject, albeit with various interpretations and schools of thought. (talk) 12:46, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Reason for deleting new subsection[edit]

I'm deleting the new subsection "Linear and nonlinear process causality", because it is unencyclopedic in that it is original research, written in essay style, expressing a point of view, generally unintelligible, and sometimes ungrammatical. Specifically:

"Causal language is pervasive in the analysis of such systems, physical or biological, due to the advent of new sophisticated tools of reseanch." No, causal language has long been pervasive. "A regularity notion of causality can only be meaningfully defined for systems with linear interactions among their variables. For the vastly more important class of nonlinear systems, no such notion is likely to exist." Nonsense -- it is easy to meaningfully refer to nonlinear causality. "This thesis is developed with examples of dynamical systems taken mostly from physics and biology." The use of the passive voice indicates that the author himself is developing this thesis--hence it is impermissible original research.

"Local interactions among state variables may sometimes render the notion of regular causes meaningful, but as these interactions become global, its usefulness evaporates." Unexplained and unintelligible.

"Obviously discussing nonlinear dynamical systems not include [sic] systems with chaotic deterministic dynamics,...." But of course nonlinear systems include deterministic chaotic systems. "...while non linear indeterministic dynamics changes in state variables [sic] may allow one to illustrate how profoundly problematic a regularity theory of causality is in nonlinear systems." Unintelligible. "It is shown that one does not have to resort to the rather peculiar features of chaotic systems, although such systems may show chaotic behavior." Unintelligible.

"In the dynamical systems framework ... exogenous variables correspond to system parameters." No, parameters are fixed and exogenous variables vary. "The kinds of causes studied in nonlinear systems are of a somewhat very [sic] different nature. Typically, it is asked how changes in system parameters (exogenous variables) affect the system’s equilibria." No, in linear systems people also study the effect of exogenous variables on system equilibrium. (talk) 16:20, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

Firstly: I am afraid you can be an hard and pure determinist person, in such case is understandable you don’t like my work and it is possible that some enunciations by me wrote seem you “unintelligible”. Secondly: my contribute is not at all an original research (too kind!), rather a collage of eminent opinions about linear/nonlinear causality. Probably, that was my mistake: do not make a synthesis more talkative. Anyway, I think you can agree with me that an article about causality is lame without a clear sign of the most important current conception of causality. In the complex reality of world we rarely find “a” cause, almost always we encounter “series” of cause, which produce deterministic or indeterministic effects. Frankly, I don’t know any exhaustive interpretation of causality better of resort to how the causes are connected (linear) or not (nonlinear).
As I am a peacefully and conciliating man, so I make a proposal: why don’t write together the subsection? Will you write “your” subsection about linear/nonlinear causality? Then we have a confrontation. For a better Wikipedia, I don’t think that hardly delete not shared one to be a good way. By! --Quixotex (talk) 08:09, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

The Soma 2000 wording[edit]

The Soma 2000 wording in the opening was apparently inserted without anyone realizing that these same three points actually go back to David Hume. What's more, while these words are very difficult English, Hume's are much neater. Is there any major opposition to using Hume's words and moving Soma to a footnote (showing that the same three points are being cited more recently)?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:05, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Sorry I meant Sowa. I see he is a computer scientist and that use of him to head up the article has been questioned by others. I've left him for now, but I've added reference to Hume already and I believe we can best replace the Sowa section with a direct quote of Hume in his own words rather than a computer scientist citing a 19th century scientist who was apparently using Hume.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:32, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Linear/nonlinear causality. Incorrectness[edit]

For the attention of! The November 27, eleven days ago, I kindly demand you to collaborate to rewrite my subsection. No reply! That after two times, very incorrectly, you deleted my work without any scientific nor encyclopedic reason but only only because “for you” unintellegible. That means “you did not understand”, evidently because don’t know the problems of complexity or your point of view remains behind of some decades. Anyway, I wrote again my subsection considering your lacks of understanding. Now, please, don’t touch my work without ask me about any changes! --Quixotex (talk) 10:16, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

@Quixotex, actually none of us can claim any rights upon this work once we've done it, so please do try to express your ideas in a way which does not refer to anything being yours. See WP:OWN. I notice your interlocutor did make a talkpage posting above where he or she mentioned problems such as grammar problems, which you have now re-inserted. You responded in a fairly aggressive way which did not show you'd really read the concern. So I guess you can't just say that this is their fault for not understanding. So, maybe it would be easier for them to understand the merits of your work if you would fix up the English. Can I suggest that you try to do that next? It might help discussion.
@, I would suggest that before deleting you try proposing fixes to the English and make sure you've given Quixotex a chance to explain what they are trying to say. Maybe come up with some "What did you mean by this bit?" types of questions?
I'll also have a look at the section.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:55, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
@Andrew Lancaster: Your proposal, while well-intentioned as mediation, amounts to the suggestion that gibberish be allowed to remain on Wikipedia. The English grammar is not the point (though even if the material were accurate, the writer should use a sandbox and get help with the English before putting it in the article). The point is that the entry, including its current version, is part POV, part obviously false, and largely unintelligible to anyone who knows about linear and nonlinear causality. Here is another detailed analysis:
A notion of linear causality can only be meaningfully defined for systems with linear interactions among their variables; for the vastly class of nonlinear systems we have to use the nonlinear one. The nonlinear what?
This thesis was developed an defined in the basis of results came by very numerous researches in all fields where are recognizable and aging many causes. Unintelligible. Therefore, the seriescauses can be linear, that is connected (by necessity), or nonlinear, that is non-connected (by chance). [16] Again, this is nonsense. Nonlinear connections are not "by chance". A major point of nonlinear dynamic theory, including specifically chaos theory, is that nonlinear causation can look like chance when actually it is deterministic.
The above concerns also the concept of probability, which implies statistic models to get many or few suggestion about how a process develops itself and toward it is going. Such a sentence cannot go unreverted; it is simply unintelligible. That is discussed with particular reference about the problem of causal inference in complex systems, for which only statistical characterizations is possible. [17]" What does "that is discussed" mean? As I mentioned in the above "Why I am reverting" section, the use of the passive voice makes it unclear who is discussing that-- is it the writer of the passage, or some citation like [17]?
A notion of causation based on irregularities can be meaningful for fields in which the behavior of a nonlinear system is topologically equivalent to that of a linear system. Local interactions among state variables may sometimes render the notion of regular causes meaningful, but as these interactions become global, its usefulness evaporates. The nonlinear processes, in fact, are sometime prevalent. [18] What is meant by "As these interactions become global, its usefulness evaporates"? Unintellligible.
Nonlinear dynamical processes not include chaotic deterministic dynamics ones, as in them we have always linearity, even if complexity can hide it. Anyone who knows the least bit about nonlinearity and chaos knows that this is absurd. Nonlinear dynamic processes do indeed include chaotic deterministic dynamics: the latter are a very well-studied category of the former. And to say that in chaotic deterministic systems we always have linearity is absurd: The most basic feature of the definition of chaotic systems is that they are nonlinear.
If of the chaotic deterministic process we have enough data about starting, we can forecast the ending, but in chaotic indeterministic one not at all. Again, nonsense. The whole point about chaotic deterministic systems is that we cannot forecast the ending; all we can do is characterize it statistically, even though it is fully nonlinearly causative.
Again, Wikipedia articles cannot be used as a sandbox. For something to go unreverted, it not only has to be in good enough English, but also has to express concepts clearly and has to be devoid of assertions that the literature clearly contradicts, such as the definitionally false notion at the heart of the proposed section that nonlinear connections are chance connections, and such as the definitionally false assertion that chaos is linear. The proposed section is so bizarre that I am reverting it again. (talk) 16:22, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
I get your point, and I'd just ask you to consider deletion in a rush a nuclear option. I suggest working bit by bit instead. In the end if nothing can be saved so be it, but at least you showed your intention and there is then hopefully less chance we end up with an edit war. You do not have follow my suggestion of course, but then neither does the person who disagrees with you. I suggest:-
  • fixing English where it can be fixed. I did the opening sentences. It was not impossible to get something more readable.
  • deleting any bits you think can not be fixed, posting them here with comments.
Just suggestions of course.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:57, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
@Andrew Lancaster: Since you've taken an interest in salvaging the section, my suggestion would be that you and Quixotex get together in a sandbox and work on it. I'm not going to do that myself, because I think it's hopeless: as far as I can see, the essence of the author's point is based on the misimpression that "linear" means "causative" and that "nonlinear" means non-causative. I'll leave the clarity issue to you, but I'll continue to revert anything that says one of the following (or something like it): that nonlinear = by chance; that chaos is linear; that chaotic systems are forecastable even in the long run.
Thanks for your participation! (talk) 19:19, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, my concerns about the section are not unlike yours, but I just wanted to advise a slower step by step approach if possible. On the other hand I also advise Quixotex to try take the same attitude, and therefore not to just put the material back in now you removed it again, but to perhaps now bring it here for discussion, trying to convince others it is worth keeping. It is always nicer if it is possible to do that way.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:14, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Lancaster, I thank you of your reasonableness and good sense, but you wrote also “You responded in a fairly aggressive way which did not show you'd really read the concern”. Well, I do not agree. Remember, please, that I proposed to 75.183 the 27 of November a collaboration and I said just he could wrote the subsection and then to confront each other about. His answer? Deletion! And “after” explain why his one is the only possible “truth” as his truth!

As you rightly remark, my English in bad, in fact I am not a native speaker: that is the unique reason to “eventually” delete. But 75.183 affirms: “The point is that the entry, including its current version, is part POV, part obviously false, and largely unintelligible to anyone who knows about linear and nonlinear causality”. Real causality or a “mathematical model“ like theory of chaos? Later he: […] “as far as I can see, the essence of the author's point is based on the misimpression that "linear" means "causative" and that "nonlinear" means non-causative. I'll leave the clarity issue to you, but I'll continue to revert anything that says one of the following (or something like it): that nonlinear = by chance; that chaos is linear; that chaotic systems are forecastable even in the long run”.

Chance no-causative?! 75.183 is reasoning on the basis of Theory of Chaos or similar, but that don’t concerns the problem of causation, the reality of phenomena, but only offers a useful “mathematical model” (abstract) to forecast overcomes of certain chaotic phenomena (i.e whether). Theory of chaos actually don’t concerns physics reality, nor it is a mirror of it, rather a model of it, a very useful tool to produce prediction in complex physical phenomena , but it don’t concerns strictly the relationship between causation and effects. The theory of chaos is fundamentally deterministic, for it what is not clearly “by necessity” is only the “noise”, but this is like rubbish by such point of view.

For mathematicians of such poin of view, the true cause of noise, the chance, don’t exist at all (because cannot include in equations). Thus, nonlinearity becomes a very general category of determinism, which include linearity as non-chaotic! The chance is not a form of causation and, to the end, chance would be = without cause! Well, I am a physicist and think for every physicist around the world that to be a nonsense. Whether for theoretical physics or of complexity ones, the chance is a real form of causality, and causality in general is surely not referring to any “mathematical model”, but on basis of physical reality.

75.183 again wrote: “A major point of nonlinear dynamic theory, including specifically chaos theory, is that nonlinear causation can look like chance when actually it is deterministic." In fact for theorist of deterministic chaos the indeterminism is an illusion, the chance a toll story! Then, what is the difference between necessity and chance? None! The whole is necessitated (Laplace). If it is easily foreseeable to be called linear, if hardly (or not at all foreseeable) nonlinear. But, that is a dialectic trick! If in a natural process the overcome is deterministic, the causes involved in it can only be linear, the linearity so means that cause are connected, that their actions are connected towards a result pre-fixed by necessity; and that also if phenomena are chaotic and apparently casual. All processes, in such opinion, would be always deterministic, but sometimes (or often) we cannot forecast the results of a process only because we don’t have the initial data and all variables involved. The mathematical model of theory of chaos assert so that linearity is like a subcategory of nonlinearity. Why this is a trick? Because, for internal coherence, it must affirm the chance to be only “ignorance”! The problem is, instead, that chance is (unfortunately for the science!) terribly real!

For many of us physicist (obviously excluded the determinist ones) that is just a trick to pass off complexity (both deterministic or indeterministic) under category of nonlinearity, to imply that chance don’t exist. Well, I limit myself to cite the most eminent contemporary physicist, Murray Gell-Mann (discoverer of quarks and Nobel Prize in 1969), which affirms: "The science of biology is very much more complex than fundamental physics because so many of the regularities of terrestrial biology arise from chance events as well as from the fundamental laws." (The Quark and the Jaguar, NY, Freeman & Co., p.115). Since, not only sub-atomic world is indeterministic, but also the biologic world, what is the maximum of complexity. Recently (2007) Gell-Mann reaffirmed: “But the main thing here is that it predicts probabilities. Now, sometimes those probabilities are near certainties. And in a lot of familiar cases, they of course are. But other times they're not, and you have only probabilities for different outcomes. So what that means is that the history of the universe is not determined just by the fundamental law. It's the fundamental law and this incredibly long series of accidents, or chance outcomes, that are there in addition.” (

Now, what differences fundamentally are between series of causes done by fundamental laws and those by chance? That was explained already by Cournot in the middle of 19th century, theorizing nonlinearity = chance. Clearly vs Laplace he, on Exposition de la théorie des chances et des probabilities (1843) and later on Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique (Paris, Hachette 1851, cap III, pp.36-37), asserted: “L’hasard est le rencontre de deux séries causales indépendantes” (The chance is the intersection of two casual and independent series [of causes]). That means in modern form: series of cause can be a) dependent, or b) independent, and reality of complexity (see also Prigogine) demonstrated clearly that causal series independent exist as chance. We have, therefore, that nonlinearity cannot, logically, be included in determinism, because intersection of two independence means: “ not to be on line together”. That is, series of independent causes don't are in same phenomenic line of events.

Well, that is precisely what happens when we have the not-deterministic processes, since: determinism is linearity and indeterminism nonlinearity. This point of view was also expressed by Jacques Monod, the biologist Noble Prize 1965, which theorized the “new” outcomes by chance, while conservation of what already existent outcomes by necessity (Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, Chapt. 1rst)

The obvious conclusion is that Theory of chaos and its derivations don’t concern Causality, but only a mathematical model of deterministic processes, simple or complicated. As it denies the existence of chance, which nowadays is instead admitted almost unanimously by physicists, chemists an biologist, it is necessary to conclude:What can be mathematically true, can be physically false.

If we want at all costs cite the mathematical point o view of theorists of chaos (but actually only of deterministic chaos!) in a subsection of an article about Casuality we can add something like: “For the mathematical model of Theory of chaos the nonlinearity is not corresponding to the chance, but it is the general form of determinism, linearity being a specifical form of it”.

To show my helpfulness, non only I invite you to rewrite the subsection, but suggest eventually that also 75.183 could re-write the subsection, but considering the opinion of physicists and biologists, which not at all agree to deduce reality by a mathematic deterministic model. By! --Quixotex (talk) 11:05, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Quixotex, I understand that language may be an issue but the best solution is to move slowly and carefully. Long discussion here are likely to get messy though. I think you should try making a draft paragraph here on the talk page. On the first draft try removing anything controversial, or else sourcing it carefully, and keeping the English simple. Non linear causality is an interesting and notable subject. I think that is accepted. But I think there is a valid concern that your first attempts look a little like your personal opinions rather than a report about what is written outside Wikipedia.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:22, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Hi, Andrew Lancaster! My proposal is the following:

Linearity and nonlinearity in mathematics and in physical reality[edit]

The duality linearity/nonlinearity with regard to causation of phenomena in physics reality has not the same meanings with regard to mathematical model of prevision, used to forecast the issues in deterministic chaotic phenomena, i.e. weather. The theory of deterministic chaos and numerous its mathematical derived version or alternative models do not concern causality but a computational scenery that eject chance as not-computable, reducing it as a rumor that compromises or damages computation. The exclusion of chance from calculation brings to exclude chance from mathematical reality: yet, the mathematical model only can be deterministic. Therefore, in mathematical language linearity is a subcategory of nonlinearity, depending on length of algorithm or simplicity of equation; were math models can use brief algorithm or simple equation we have linearity, if not nonlinearity. Afterward the mathematical meanings of linearity an nonlinearity concerns computation and not at all physical, chemical or biological reality. The models of deterministic chaos and similar concern only previsions and not real phenomena of causation, because for them all becomes “by necessity”.

The concepts of linearity and nonlinearity in mathematics are so very different of philosophical and physical (chemical, biological, etc.) ones, because they don’t concern directly causality, but some deterministic models of it. For sciences, instead, the chance is nowadays admitted as real and its reality was assured whether in sub-atomic matter , or in molecular complexity or in biology. But the chance is not at all “without cause”, but rather when causes are not-connected, that means non-linear, because when we have causal linearity that means that causes to be superimposed or crossed, aging on different lines of causality. Causes aging not on the same line of causality, are so non-linear among them.

The most eminent contemporary physicist, Murray Gell-Mann (discoverer of quarks and Nobel Prize in 1969), affirms: "The science of biology is very much more complex than fundamental physics because so many of the regularities of terrestrial biology arise from chance events as well as from the fundamental laws." (The Quark and the Jaguar, NY, Freeman & Co., p.115). Since, not only sub-atomic world is indeterministic, but also the biologic world, the maximum of complexity. Recently (2007) Gell-Mann reaffirmed: “But the main thing here is that it predicts probabilities. Now, sometimes those probabilities are near certainties. And in a lot of familiar cases, they of course are. But other times they're not, and you have only probabilities for different outcomes. So what that means is that the history of the universe is not determined just by the fundamental law. It's the fundamental law and this incredibly long series of accidents, or chance outcomes, that are there in addition.” (

That was already explained by Cournot in the middle of 19th century, theorizing nonlinearity = chance on Exposition del a théorie des chances et des probabilities (1843) and later on Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique, Paris, Hachette 1851, cap III, pp.36-37): “L’hasard est le rencontre de deux séries causales indépendantes” (The chance is the intersection of two casual and independent series [of causes]). If series of cause can be a) dependent, or b) independent, and reality of complexity (see Prigogine and Gell-Mann) demonstrated clearly that causal series independent exist as chance , we have that nonlinearity cannot be included in determinism, but only a mathematical convention to name the wide generality of systems, inside it, as case particular (easy equations) , the linearity. But in reality the intersection of independence causes series means: “ not to be on line together”; that is “not to be in same causal line of events” and what is happening when we have not determinism. For philosophical analysis in accordance with scientific evidence determinism is linearity and indeterminism nonlinearity. This point of view was expressed also by Jacques Monod, the biologist Noble Prize 1965, which theorized the “new” outcomes by chance and conservation of existent by necessity (Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, Chapt. 1rst).

By!--Quixotex (talk) 10:09, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, if you don't mind, I'll make some quick notes just on the first sentence for your consideration:-
  • "The duality linearity/nonlinearity with regard to causation of phenomena " is hard to understand English. Does it mean "The contrast between linear and non-linear causation"? If not what is the difference?
  • What is "physics reality"? What other type of reality are you contrasting to?
  • "has not the same meanings with regard to" I think more conventional English would be "does not mean the same thing as it does in"? If not, then what does it mean?
  • What is the "mathematical model of prevision"? Are you just talking about any mathematical forecasting models?
  • Putting together comments so far, does your opening sentence mean this "The distinction between linear and non-linear causation does not have the same meaning in physics and forecasting models such as those used to predict the weather." Does that sound like what you were trying to say? If so, the sentence sounds non obvious and would need to be sourced. Do you have a source for this distinction between what the linear/non-linear dichotomy means in physics and in weather forecasting? Also, I think that instead of jumping into this sentence there should have been some opening definition about what non linear and linear mean in simple terms.
It is rather difficult to follow in this way. I hope these questions about the first sentence show it? Certainly the English would need to be better if it is for keeping in an article. I do think people will help you with English but then you need to help them understand what you want to say. For example, your next sentence, is much harder...
  • "The theory of deterministic chaos and numerous its mathematical derived version or alternative models do not concern causality but a computational scenery that eject chance as not-computable, reducing it as a rumor that compromises or damages computation." This sentence makes no sense to me. I am quite sure that the "its" should not be there, and I am reasonably certain that the word rumor is being used wrongly. I also strongly suspect that part of my problem with sentence is that it is original research? Here is my best guess at the intended meaning: "The theory of deterministic chaos and similar mathematical models do not concern causality but a computational model that includes no place for chance as not-computable." Am I close. Once again, if I am close, this is non obvious material and needs a source. Furthermore, it is diving into a philosophical question which I think needed to be explained first. Not everyone agrees with the description being given. Consider WP:NEUTRAL.
I'll stop there for now and call for further comments.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:58, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

My dear Andrew! What are 75.183 and WP:NEUTRAL?? Zombies?? Can be! Any case, as matter stand I think very difficult to do understanding what they do not want understand. My last chance is therefore to schematize: necessity → causes on the same phenomenical line; chance → causes in different (nonlinear) phenomenical line. That Is the point of view of us physicists and not at all that of platonist, demanding to be “physics reality” simplicistically “computing”. Now, I surrender against the conventional platonist idea the reality to be “mathematical”! An absurd, but…... platonists continue to dominate! What a pity! However, thank’you and goodbye! --Quixotex (talk) 12:58, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Ishikawa Diagrams[edit]

I have previously argued that this article should be split, but given that it is not, some changes needed to be made. The Ishikawa (or fishbone) diagram was originally developed for "quality control" which falls under "management" not "engineering". Also the existing engineering section appears to talking about something else. I have, therefore, added a section on management and moved the Ishikawa diagram there.--Logicalgregory (talk) 06:16, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Causality contrasted with conditionals[edit]

This section does not contain any citations. Does anybody know where it came from?

I am inclined to agree with what is said here and would like to use some of the material in another article. However, without citations its not much use. --Logicalgregory (talk) 07:44, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Criticism Section ???[edit]

Where's the criticism section? As mentioned by other posters here, Hume offered a critique of the concept of causality. Bertrand Russell disputed the notion that causality was temporally polarized. Robert M. Pirsig had a thing or two to say about it as well. (talk) 06:16, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Types of causal relationships[edit]

I am a Wikipedia newbie so I am not comfortable editing the Article page myself. However, I believe the Article page should include a clear presentation of the types of causal relationships as discussed here. I think this ought to be its own section of the article, or perhaps described in the Logic section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:04, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

Causality and explanation[edit]

I’m not sure where this fits, so I’d appreciate comments. In ordinary usage, when we enquire about the cause of something, we are usually seeking an explanation. Often we have in mind a model of how a thing ordinarily works, and we are asking, why is there a deviation in this case? Or even, what has gone wrong? For example, suppose a plane crashes and a committee of experts is convened to determine the cause of the crash. If after many weeks of deliberation their conclusion was that what caused the plane to crash was gravity, we would be disappointed by this answer. Of course it was gravity, but planes are designed to cope with gravity, it is part of the normal operation of a plane that gravity acts on it. What we want to know is, what abnormal thing happened in this instance that resulted in the crash? The abnormal thing need not even be an event; it could be a state of affairs. Example: why won’t my car start? Because there is no fuel in the tank. It is not even that an event of running out of fuel has occurred: the car may be new and has never had fuel in it. The state of affairs ‘has no fuel’ is the obvious cause of why the car won’t start. This common idea of a cause as the explanation of an abnormality occurs in economics and social sciences, and may give rise to contentious claims of what the ‘real’ cause is. What is the cause of the high unemployment in this country? One answer might be, because the availability of welfare means that there is insufficient motivation for the unemployed to find jobs. Another answer might be, because the government has failed to stimulate demand through a program of public works. The reason that there are competing explanations here is that the two answers reflect different models of how an economy should normally work, and each identifies a different abnormality or deviation from their respective model. Having said all that, it is a long time since I studied causality and I don’t have any up to date references that cover this material. If I were to add it as a new section without references, it might appear to be original research, which it isn’t. Dezaxa (talk) 01:31, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Triangle Example[edit]

"Another sort of conditional, the counterfactual conditional, has a stronger connection with causality, yet even counterfactual statements are not all examples of causality. Consider the following two statements: If A were a triangle, then A would have three sides. If switch S were thrown, then bulb B would light. In the first case, it would not be correct to say that A's being a triangle caused it to have three sides, since the relationship between triangularity and three-sidedness is that of definition. The property of having three sides actually determines A's state as a triangle. Nonetheless, even when interpreted counterfactually, the first statement is true."

Not true in the case of a degenerate triangle, so "If A were a triangle, then A would have three sides." is actually a false statement as defining a triangle as having 3 sides is not accurate in a case where all vertices are collinear. Not sure if it's reason enough to prompt a change of the example but it is worth noting. Degeneracy_(mathematics) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:39, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Causality streches back at least to Plato[edit]

The article says that: "The philosophical treatment on the subject of causality extends over millennia. In the Western philosophical tradition, discussion stretches back at least to Aristotle"

Well, while it's true that it streches back at least to Aristotle, it is also true that it goes back at least to Plato, who is older. Indeed: "Socrates. (...) for does not everything which comes into being, of necessity come into being through a cause? Protarchus. Yes, certainly; for how can there be anything which has no cause?" Plato's Philebus. ( --Fulgencio Jr (talk) 16:07, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

The Straw That Broke The Camels Back[edit]

This would be a famous example of Causality. Is this Correct? Think this is right section.

NanoTechAdvancement (talk) 14:28, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

material cause[edit]

The familiar material examples are wood and bronze. I read Freudenthal 1995 as regarding blood and milk as materials. My mother does not stay unchanged while I change, and I hardly see her as very like wood or bronze. Do you have a good reason for regarding my mother as my material constitution? I don't see 'mother' appearing in the article on Substance theory. Nor on the page shown in your linked citation of Soccio. I would like to delete "one's mother or".

I am unhappy with the choice of examples that seems to more to muddy the distinctions than to clarify them, examples that seem to say that different kinds of cause often coincide. I don't deny that the cited text literally says so, but looking at Physics 198a referred to by Falcon, I have to say it doesn't seem the best of Aristotle's philosophy. The term essential cause seems to be muddled with the term formal cause, and the ideas also seem to be confounded. I would suggest that this is a transitional text, between the first four-cause theory and the second? I would not like to give this as a good example to expound the notion of formal cause. I am unhappy to see the long quotation from Falcon that you make a kind of footnote in the reference. Therefore I just this is not the best one can do here. I am not the only person who finds this section of the Physics appearing transitional: Graham says on page 169 he thinks it is a developmental text. Therefore I think this is not the best one can do here. That is to say, I think Falcon is not a good source here.

So I would like to remove the footnote quote.

Also I am still unhappy to see the word function used to define the formal cause. I would prefer to replace the words "the thing's properties and function" with the words 'its nature'.

Also I would prefer to change the words "the material from whence a thing has come or that which persists while it changes" to 'the material of which a thing is constituted, or that which persists while a thing changes'. Also I would like to remove the link "(see also substance theory)" because I didn't find much helpful for the present purpose there.Chjoaygame (talk) 03:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

OK, please go right ahead and find an WP:RS you WP:LIKE better... just stick close to it, make a suggestion and I'm sure we'll both find something agreeable.—Machine Elf 1735 05:17, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Ok, I will have a look.Chjoaygame (talk) 07:22, 27 August 2013 (UTC) I haven't forgotten about this. I am still looking!Chjoaygame (talk) 07:19, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

intend to remove self- or special-interest- or related-party- promotion, a link to a poorly written and hardly relevant page[edit]

Once by editor here and once by Editor Mellon2030 here has an external link been added that seems to me more a kind of promotion than a properly relevant link. I intend to remove the second addition unless there is shown on this talk page some sound argument with evidence that is it devoid of some kind of promotional character. The link is to a very poorly written and only marginally relevant page, unsuitable to be linked to this article. True, the word 'causality' appears in the link, but that is not enough to establish adequate relevance and quality of workmanship.Chjoaygame (talk) 08:41, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Three principles of causality[edit]

Salvatore J. Babones (6 August 2013). Methods for Quantitative Macro-Comparative Research. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-7495-0.  p.138 states that three principles of causality, commonly presented in modern literature, are: correlation, precedence and nonspuriousness. This seems like a key fact to add to the article, but I am hesitant, as precedence links to a disambig page with no good choice...? PS. See Claire Selltiz for a bit more on Babones' statement. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 09:16, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

It is regrettable that causality is treated in this article and in the article Causality (physics) as if it were a plaything for logicians and other theorists, who have deeper understanding than is supplied by the idea of causality. I here refer to causality in the sense that an Aristotelian would refer to as efficient cause. People are afraid to think of causal powers. The problem is solved by the process ontology. The real things of the actual world are all and only processes. One process can be the efficient cause of another. The causal process has powers that are manifest in its effects, the processes of which it is a contributory cause. In this view, causality is one of the constitutive characteristics of the actual world, not reducible to anything more fundamental. This fact is a primary initial principle, not deducible from any principle more fundamental. There is no going behind it to find something more deeply explanatory of the actual world. It is a fundamental explanatory principle. These ideas are hot and people think they can be very clever and take a more fundamental approach, and mostly do not dare to face the basic character of causality. For example, the physics article instances classical force as a cause, which of course is misguided, because it is not thought of in terms of the process ontology. It is that ontology that gives the best expression of the 'common sense' notion of causality that appears in the lead of the present article but is hardly presented in the rest of the article. Perhaps what I am saying here is that many intellectuals are too clever by half to get the right idea about this.
What I am saying here is partly expressed by some ideas of Wittgenstein. You can't explain causal linkage by chatter. You have to experience it in action in order to understand it, and to express it fully to someone else you have to rely on their own experience or to show it to them.
Therefore I would say that the doctrine of Babones to which you refer is not fact, it is analytic reasoning and methodology. It is of course a fact that Babones expounds this doctrine. Babones is discussing how to establish causality empirically, a very important thing to discuss, but the terms you cite from him are terms of empirical methodology as distinct from directly philosophical terms for causality.
What I have just written above may be of only very little use to your concern to put in something about Babones' work. But perhaps it might be of some use, even if little.Chjoaygame (talk) 15:53, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

ref name=Cahalan 2013."Today,we still often call the material a thing is made out of a cause. “What caused that statue to be so easily broken?” “Its being made out of clay rather than granite.”[edit]

An edit "ref name=Cahalan 2013."Today,we still often call the material a thing is made out of a cause. “What caused that statue to be so easily broken?” “Its being made out of clay rather than granite.”" was posted; and then it was undone by someone who treated it as vandalism. I think it probably was not vandalism, but was a good faith edit, but posted by someone not possessed of the appropriate text editing skills for this article page. If the poster would like to put more detail of his proposed post on this talk page, we could help him put his edit in the format that fits this article page. The necessary thing is a fully detailed citation of the source, not just a name and date. Also desirable but not necessary would be an internet link to the source.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:04, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

The theory assumes probabilistic causation.[edit]

In the subsection Causal Powers, the article asserts:

"The theory assumes probabilistic causation. Pearl (2000) has shown that Cheng's causal power can be given a counterfactual interpretation, (i.e., the probability that, absent x and y, [then] y would be true if x were true) and is computable therefore using structural models. Within a Bayesian framework, the power PC theory can be interpreted as a noisy-OR function used to compute likelihoods (Griffiths & Tenenbaum, 2005. Strength and Structure in Causal Induction. Cognitive Psychology 51: 334-384)."

This is badly muddled in its expression and would need correction in expression even if it were saying something that is basically correct. But it is not basically correct, and so fixing the faulty logic of expression would not be a good thing for this article. The comment should be deleted.

Why should it be deleted?

The theory of causal powers is a theory about the real structure of what is actual, not a theory about knowledge or belief or inference or induction. The theory of causal induction and probability theory in general in a Bayesian view is about how things come to be known or believed or inferred or induced, not a theory about the real structure of actuality. The assertion as written in the article muddles between actuality and knowledge, ontic muddled with epistemic.

The writer of the assertion was muddled in the writing. The clause "absent x and y, [then] y would be true if x were true" is nonsense. As it stands in the article, "absent" refers to what might actually exist but doesn't, while "if ... were true" refers to what can be inferred from given data. The sentence might have made sense if it had been written "absent knowledge of x and then y, [then] y would be true if x were true". But simply "absent x" is ontic, while "[then] ... would be true" is epistemic. Different worlds of discourse, muddled in one and the same grammatical construct. The muddle was apparently not a slip of expression by the writer, but was apparently a serious misunderstanding in his mind.

The theory of causal powers does not hold that causality must be probabilistic. It holds that it is real. It may or may not be probabilistic; the theory is neutral as to probabilistic causation.

The assertion in the article is muddled and wrong, and should be deleted, or moved to another place and expressed properly there. Talk of probability here is distracting and hardly relevant at the present level of detail of the article.Chjoaygame (talk) 11:45, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Done.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:04, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Causal inference[edit]

Both articles inevitably touch upon both statistical and philosophical causality. Causality is per definition a type of inference: Causal inference. Sda030 (talk) 22:42, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

For a physicist, causality is not a type of inference. It is a principle of nature, a general physical fact. A stubborn reality of the world. One can use the principle in inferential argument, but that does not detract from its basis as a statement of physical fact.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:17, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
I see that, good point. I spoke from the standpoint of argumentation theory, which is admittedly a narrow POV. In hindsight Causal inference does capture a particular aim of inference not captured elsewhere. However, I still prefer Causal inference to be merged with Correlation does not imply causation, Causality or under an article which captures other types of reasoning objectives like Reasoning, etc. My worry is that Causal inference will not live on its own without major copying from these other articles. Sda030 (talk) 21:53, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
I am not very interested in causal inference so I have no opinion about what to do with the article about it.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:04, 28 February 2014 (UTC)