!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> HPS: Constant Conjunction Causation

Constant Conjunction accounts of Causation

Constant conjunction accounts of causation claim that, whenever C happens, E happens. That is, C is a sufficient condition for E. E could happen without C, because there might be other things that can cause it, but if C happens, E inevitably will.

No-one holds naive constant conjunction accounts, because they are obviously false. (For example, the light does not always come on when I flick the switch, because sometimes the bulb is blown.) More sophisticated versions are still popular, however.


John Mackie has developed a very sophisticated version of this account, in Mackie 1965. Responses include Kim 1971 and Davidson 1967.


Common Cause

If C causes both E and F, then E and F always occur together. Thus, this is a major issue for this type of account.

Probabilistic Causation

If E might not happen, even though C does, C cannot be a sufficient condition for E. Thus, this sort of account has serious problems with probabilistic causation.