more from J.L. Mackie

Single Idea 8333

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / d. Selecting the cause]

Full Idea

If a short-circuit causes a fire, the so-called cause is, and is known to be, an Insufficient but Necessary part of a condition which is itself Unnecessary but Sufficient for the result. Let us call this an INUS condition.

Gist of Idea

A cause is an Insufficient but Necessary part of an Unnecessary but Sufficient condition


J.L. Mackie (Causes and Conditions [1965], 1)

Book Reference

'Causation', ed/tr. Sosa,E. /Tooley,M. [OUP 1993], p.34

A Reaction

I'm not clear why it is necessary, given that the fire could have started without the short-circuit. The final situation must certainly be sufficient. If only one situation can cause an effect, then the whole situation is necessary.

Related Idea

Idea 17254 An effect needs a sufficient and necessary cause [Hobbes]