Minds and Machines

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 259–276 | Cite as

Dispositional versus epistemic causality



I put forward several desiderata that a philosophical theory of causality should satisfy: it should account for the objectivity of causality, it should underpin formalisms for causal reasoning, it should admit a viable epistemology, it should be able to cope with the great variety of causal claims that are made, and it should be ontologically parsimonious. I argue that Nancy Cartwright’s dispositional account of causality goes part way towards meeting these criteria but is lacking in important respects. I go on to argue that my epistemic account, which ties causal relationships to an agent’s knowledge and ignorance, performs well in the light of the desiderata. Such an account, I claim, is all we require from a theory of causality.


Causality Causation Dispositions Capacities 


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I am very grateful to Laurence Goldstein, Federica Russo and two anonymous referees for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Department, SECLUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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