Causal Tendency, Necessitivity and Sufficientivity: An Updated Review

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 234)


The tendency of one event F to cause a later event E was explicated by a simple formula in terms of probability by Good (1961/62), more specifically in terms of ‘weights of evidence’ (logarithms of Bayes factors). The argument was based on the concept of causal circuits. The same explication, and a generalization, are reached here without making use of that concept, and the mathematical level is elementary.

It is recognized here that the explication would be more explicitly described as capturing the notion of the tendency of F to be a sufficient cause of E, and a similar explication is proposed for the tendency to be a necessary cause. For convenience in discussing these explications they are called sufficientivity and necessitivity. They bear a simple dual or skew-symmetric relationship to each other and have simple additive properties.

For supplementary material see especially my contribution to Jarvie (forthcoming), as well as the monograph by (Suppes 1970).


Prima Facie Virginia Polytechnic Institute Fundamental Identity Probabilistic Causality Indeterminate Form 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of StatisticsVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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