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(or Causation) A process linking two or more events or states of affairs so that one brings about or produces the other. One event is the cause of another if (a) the event occurs prior to the effect, (b) there is an invariant conjunction of the two events and (c) there is an underlying mechanism or physical structure attesting to the necessity of the conjunction. Since (c) is not always demonstrable in empirical data the requirement may be replaced by tests assuring that no third variable controls both or mediates between the two events. Without this weaker test, a cause may be termed spurious and genuine otherwise. Social events are rarely uni-causal phenomena and as deterministic as in the natural sciences. Causality in the social sciences therefore tends to be multi-causal and probabilistic (see probability, information theory). Philosophy of science has devoted much attention to the role of causality in scientific CONSTRUCTs. The theoretical importance of causal EXPLANATIONs is that one can apply them to explain what happened and predict what will happen. Their practical importance is that they lead one to produce or to prevent causally related events by direct or indirect intervention. (Krippendorff)
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