Acta Analytica

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 231-246

First online:

Varieties of Multiple Antecedent Cause

  • Jeff EngelhardtAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Siena Heights University Email author 

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A great deal has been written over the past decade defending ‘higher-level’ causes by arguing that overdetermination is more complex than many philosophers initially thought. Although two shooters overdetermine the death of a firing squad victim, a baseball and its parts do not overdetermine the breaking of a window. But while these analyses of overdetermination have no doubt been fruitful, the focus on overdetermination—while ignoring other varieties of causal relation—has limited the discussion. Many of the cases of interest resemble joint causes or a cause necessitating a simultaneous epiphenomenon as much as they resemble overdeterminers. If we are to fully understand higher-level causation, we need to distinguish it from these causal relations as well. This paper is dedicated to the task, focusing especially on the ‘threat’ that higher-level causes are epiphenomena necessitated by lower-level causes.


Mental causation Non-fundamentalia Overdetermination Epiphenomena Causal exclusion Non-reductive physicalism