Using defaults to understand token causation

Friends of the counterfactual theory of causation have recently employed the notion of a default to respond to standard problem cases for counterfactual theories. I argue that while the notion of a default is in- deed useful for understanding token causation, it is a tool that belongs in the toolbox of the process theorist, not in that of counterfactual accounts of causation. I show that an event is a default event relative to a particular process. In light of this, the way to employ default events to improve our understanding of token causation is by taking token causation to be the intersection of two processes where the token effect is a default event relative to one process, but a deviant event relative to another. Doing so reveals causal processes to be more fundamental than token causation, since the latter is understood in terms of the former, which suggests that the use of defaults to understand token causation is especially suitable for process views of causation. Moreover, employing the notion of defaults affords the process theorist a way of handling cases of causation by omission.

Forthcoming in Journal of Philosophy (pdf)

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