Why Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
I still haven’t seen a convincing argument against my idea of causation!
A cause is necessity between particular things.
We need, though, to explain what I am referring to by ‘particular’ things.
A lot of words can have both a general and a particular ense. ‘A spark’ can refer to a bit of flammable material at a particular time and place. But ‘a spark’ can also refer to ANY thing that is a spark, not just a particular one.
When we say ‘a spark causes a fire’ we mean that a particular spark is necessary for a particular fire.
The classic argument against necessity as causation is that things like oxygen and fuel are necessary for the fire too, yet we wouldn’t say oxygen caused the fire, or fuel caused the fire.
Yet we have a handy answer for this: no particular oxygen is necessary for the fire (it can be any oxygen), and no particular fuel is necessary for the fire (it can be any fuel).
Note that the question of ‘what sorts of things are causes’ leaves us with a broad conception: events, actions, things can all be actions. It is necessity that is the common factor.