Talk:Causality

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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 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Thibadeau (talkcontribs) 12:19, 5 November 2005‎

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 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thomas Ash (talkcontribs) 01:08, 13 October 2005‎

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. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 136.165.80.124 (talkcontribs) 00:42, 3 November 2005‎

Hume[edit]

The section on Hume describes his views on induction, not causality (as of October 13th, 2005). Thomas Ash — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thomas Ash (talkcontribs) 01:08, 13 October 2005‎

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)

Band Cause and Effect[edit]

There is a band named "Cause and Effect", a consulting group http://www.causeandeffect.co.uk/ and a charity organization called http://www.causeaneffect.org/

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)

Examples[edit]

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)

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 http://www.ivorcatt.com/421.htm 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 http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/blog/ for example http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=230 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 http://cdsweb.cern.ch/search.py?recid=706468&ln=en and in more detail at http://nigelcook0.tripod.com/

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)

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.

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads.

Mathematical Definitions of Causality in Terms of 'Causal Chains'[edit]

The article does not seem to provide 'Mathematical' definitions of what Causality actually is. I feel that the introduction, and the article, would do well to at least provide tentative definitions of what Causality is. For example :

1) In what follows below, we consider a distribution of mass-energy in spacetime with respect to a given inertial reference frame. A 'point Event' can be thought of as a coordinate (x1,t1) in the spacetime diagram. A simply connected 'Event distribution' is some Simply connected subset of the spacetime diagram (associated with a given mass energy distribution) that can contain worldlines (which themselves correspond to a sequence of point events). We say that Event distribution A is the cause of Event distribution B if A occurs before B. And that's all, because special relativity is deterministic...