more from J.L. Mackie

Single Idea 8334

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / b. Nomological causation]

Full Idea

We may say not merely that this virus causes yellow fever, but also that it is 'the' cause of yellow fever; but we could only say that sweet-eating causes dental decay, not that it is the cause of dental decay (except in an individual case).

Gist of Idea

The virus causes yellow fever, and is 'the' cause; sweets cause tooth decay, but they are not 'the' cause


J.L. Mackie (Causes and Conditions [1965], 3)

Book Reference

'Causation', ed/tr. Sosa,E. /Tooley,M. [OUP 1993], p.47

A Reaction

A bit confusing, but there seems to be something important here, concerning the relation between singular causation and law-governed causation. 'The' cause may not be sufficient (I'm immune to yellow fever). So 'the' cause is the only necessary one?