The Fundamental Importance of Causation

Causation is extremely important. It is the most fundamental relation or connection in the universe. Without it there would be no science or technology. Our thoughts would not be connected with our actions and they would not be connected with consequences. There would be no moral responsibility and no legal system. Causation is the basis of prediction and explanation. Any intervention we make in the world around us is premised on there being causal connections that are to at least to some degree ch a predictable. Without it we would not be able to predict or explain anything. We would not be able to make decisions and not be able to act on these decisions.  There would be no natural laws. There would be total chaos. Such a world is illustrated by the following picture of random points i a two-dimensional space. There is no correlation, no causal claims can be made, no prediction or explanation possible, no rational decisions can be made and no rational actions can be taken.


The picture is generated by Poisson process using a Monte Carlo random number generator. I took it from the blog  by Peter Coles “In the Dark”.

We can therefore not do without causation and It is very important to be able to identify and establish causes.

Causation - Dominoes

Anyone who makes a causal claim must state the premises on which he/she bases the claim. He/she must have a theory of causation

What is it for one phenomenon/event to cause another phenomenon/event?

Everybody thinks that he/she intuitively knows what causation means or is and how to make valid causal claims. However, philosophers and scientists have proposed a large number of theories and there is as yet no consensus about a single theory.

Because of the uncertainty about causation I recently decided to read deeply about causation. I want to be able to identify causal relations that have a very  high probability of being true, true positives and negatives, false positives and negatives. I want to avoid being seduced by spurious correlations.

This has proved to be very difficult and time consuming. I have been reading about 15 books and a large amount of other material but I have to admit that my knowledge and understanding is still marginal. This is understandable considering that philosophers and scientists have not been able to reach consensus about causation.

I shall continue to publish posts and pages about causation to this website in the hope that this will increase my knowledge and understanding about causation and perhaps also that of others.