PSA 1974 pp 325-360 | Cite as

Causes and Deductive Explanation

  • Raimo Tuomela
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)


According to the backing law account of causation a singular causal claim is to be analyzed (or “justified”) by reference to a suitable nomic theory which, together with the given singular statement describing a cause, deductively supports or explains the statement describing the effect. This backing law (or deductive-nomological) account of singular causation has recently become the target of several kinds of criticism. First, the possibility of giving a detailed and elaborate account of the required nomic or explanatory backing has been doubted. Secondly, it has been claimed that the deductive-nomological account is bound to lead to unacceptable ontological difficulties (see Kim [1969] and [1973a]). Thirdly, it has been argued that the backing law account fails to give a satisfactory analysis of certain conditional or counterfactual aspects of causation (see Lewis [1973b]). Fourthly, it has been claimed that this approach does not work at least within the social and historical sciences as there are no laws and theories of the required sort to be found there.


Actual World Causal Theory Causal Dependence Singular Event Ramsey Sentence 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raimo Tuomela
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiFinland

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