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Causality and Attribution in an Aristotelian Theory

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Part of the Studies in Universal Logic book series (SUL)


Aristotelian causal theories incorporate some philosophically important features of the concept of cause, including necessity and essential character. The proposed formalisation is restricted to one-place predicates and a finite domain of attributes (without individuals). Semantics is based on a labelled tree structure, with truth defined by means of tree paths. A relatively simple causal prefixing mechanism is defined, by means of which causes of propositions and reasoning with causes are made explicit. The distinction of causal and factual explanation are elaborated, and examples of cyclic and convergent causation are given. Soundness and completeness proofs are sketched.


  • Predication
  • Attribute
  • Subject
  • Reason
  • Cause
  • Proof
  • Labelled tree

Mathematics Subject Classification (2010)

  • 03A99
  • 01A20

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  1. 1.

    For instance, the editors of the Oxford Handbook of Causation say: “Philosophers have been interested in the nature of causation for as long as there has been philosophy. …Despite the attention, there is still very little agreement on the most central question concerning causation: what is it?” [7, p. 1].

  2. 2.

    These questions are addressed, for example, in a short programmatic paper by J.-Y. Béziau [8], where a very general formalised theory is envisaged that is motivated by da Costa’s formalisation of the principle of sufficient reason and Shopenhauer’s philosophical views on the principle.

  3. 3.

    For the causal meaning of the expression form ‘if something holds it is necessary for something (else) to hold’, used in Aristotle’s definition of the syllogism, see, e.g. An. Post. B11.

  4. 4.

    In this sense, Aristotle speaks, for example, of species (“man”, “horse”) to be a part of a genus (“animal”), Met. Γ, 26. It is the whole–part relation in the distributive sense that each of the many (parts) is one (genus), not in the collective sense of the one that consists of many.


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Correspondence to Srećko Kovač .

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Kovač, S. (2015). Causality and Attribution in an Aristotelian Theory. In: Koslow, A., Buchsbaum, A. (eds) The Road to Universal Logic. Studies in Universal Logic. Birkhäuser, Cham.

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