Feb 082016
 

sufficient-cause-is-logical
I’m a proponent for the logical case that if one is postulating a cause and effect relationship, without any non-caused event interaction, then what I call “must lead to” causality follows logically if the cause itself is not to hold a contradiction. “Must lead to” causality is, in formal language, called sufficient causality (a term I’m not fond of), which means that if a cause takes place, it must lead to a specific effect and no other effect instead. For an article that tries to clear the confusions of words such as “necessary” and sufficient” please read here:

Uncomplicating Necessary and Sufficient Causality (for the Free Will Debate)

In this article I’m looking to get into some of the reasons why such “must lead to” causality is logically concluded. I’ve gone into it within a few other articles (and a whole lot in my book), but this article is going to focus on some of the direct “bones” of the argument.

To do this we want to simplify things down to two “events”.  An event just means that “something takes place” or “s%$t happens!”. The first event is the initial condition, and the second event is what that initial condition causes, which will be referred to as the “effect”. In other words, the initial condition is the cause of the effect.

In all scenarios given, the initial condition (which again, is the cause), labeled “IC” will always be in every way identical. This means the IC for all scenarios contains the exact same variables, occur at the exact same time, and actually is any other IC in any other scenario. In logic, the law of identity would say that the IC in scenario 1 = the IC in scenario 2 (or any other scenario given).

This is our starting point for all scenarios. So on to two different scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: IC is the cause of effect X
  • Scenario 2: IC is not the cause of effect X

What does it mean to say that IC is the cause of effect X? This is important. It means that all of the variables that make up the IC inherently hold the mechanism that output effect X in the next moment. What does it mean to say that IC is not the cause of effect X? Well, likewise, it means that all of the variables that make up IC inherently holds the mechanism that does not output effect X in the next moment.

At this point we can look at the two scenarios and make an assessment about which are logically possible, and which are not logically possible. Let’s start out with what is not logically possible:

It is not logically possible that both scenarios are true:

  • Scenario 1: IC is the cause of effect X
  • Scenario 2: IC is not the cause of effect X

Why is this not possible? The answer is in the law of identity. For the IC in scenario 1 to equal the IC in scenario 2, the variables must be the same. But if the IC contains the variables that inherently hold the mechanism that output X, to stay identically consistent we cannot say that the IC contains the variables that inherently hold the mechanism that does not output X. To do so would be to give IC contradictory variables.

What we can say is that either scenario 1 is possible or scenario 2 is possible, not that both are simultaneously possible.

Of course the above applies equally to these scenarios.

  • Scenario 1: IC is the cause of effect X (but not the cause of effect Y)
  • Scenario 2: IC is not the cause of effect X (but is the cause of effect Y)

This holds the same contradiction – as obviously the addition of the “but” addressing the effect of Y doesn’t change the contradiction inherent in the fact that the variables in IC cannot both hold the mechanism which leads to X and not the mechanism that leads to X.

Likewise, this is in contradiction as well:

  • Scenario 1: IC is the cause of effect X (but not the cause of effect Y)
  • Scenario 2: IC is the cause of effect Y (but not the cause of effect X)

These sets of scenarios are all just another way to say the same thing. In all of them, IC has the causal variables that lead to X in scenario 1 and IC has the causal variables that do not lead to X in scenario 2. In all of these, scenario 1 is in contradiction with scenario 2.

And it is not the effect itself that is the contradiction, but rather the causal variables of the initial condition. This is something people often get confused. When looking at the two scenarios, it isn’t the differences of effect X compared to the effect Y that is so much in contradiction as it is the IC that holds contradictory “forcing factors”.

But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine someone is asserting that both of these effects are real possibilities:

  • Scenario 1: IC is the cause of effect X (but not the cause of effect Y)
  • Scenario 2: IC is not the cause of effect X (but is the cause of effect Y)

We will momentarily ignore the contradiction (though it is difficult to do given these are in opposition), and we will ask the person making the assertion this:

What causes one effect over the other?

If we are assuming, in these scenarios that all events which take place have a cause, meaning they have variables that lead to X over Y and vice versa – what is the causal variables that lead to Y over X or X over Y?

If they say the IC has the variables that leads to X over Y, and the same IC has the variables that leads to Y over X, what causal reason could they possibly give for one to occur and not the other? What is the deciding variable in the IC in order for one effect to occur and the other not to occur?

If there is no variable that provides the mechanism of going to one event over the other event, a non-caused event is being smuggled in. If there is a variable that provides the mechanism of one effect over another, that variable exists, and therefore it cannot be the case that it goes to the “other”. A variable exists for the one event, not for the other.

This isn’t that complicated but I’ve been trying to explain this to some who do not seem to be able to “get it”. Hence this post, something that I will probably have to elaborate on even farther in the future to make the point a logically undeniable one.

And this is a natural, logical implication of a cause and effect relationship that doesn’t really need to be defined into these words. It isn’t needed any more than a square needs to define that it cannot be a circle. That is inferred by the fact that a square has four sides and four right angles, and a circle does not have those.

To say both scenarios are possible is to do one of two things. It either creates self-contradictory causal variables, or it unknowingly smuggles in an event that has no causal variables (acausality)…which of course isn’t the scenario of every event having a cause that we are working with (and the initial condition being the same). There is no other alternative here.

This is why, if we are saying a “cause causes an effect” and not injecting in a causeless event, the “must lead to” (or sufficient) status of the cause is a logical conclusion.

Of course if someone doesn’t care about what is logical, that is another topic altogether.;-)


Notes:

The above doesn’t get into what that means for the free will debate, but it does have implications when addressing an entirely causal universe. Also note that a many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics does not get around this, and I will probably do a separate post in the future about why. In short, however, it is because the very superpositioned state with all of the events are the “effect” of the single cause, and could not be otherwise (due to the same reasoning). But to get into this is a more complex matter that I will need to save.

Also keep in mind that “effect” is just a bucket term for everything that follows from the cause. So if the cause produces two or more events, they are all encompassed within the “effect”. The above scenarios reduced down the effect to just one event, but this is not needed – and only done for simplicity sake.

Other posts on causality that could be helpful:

My book that details out causality and acausailty in relation to the topic of free will:

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'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

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