What is Cause: Definition and 572 Discussions

Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one event, process, state or object (a cause) contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an effect) where the cause is partly responsible for the effect, and the effect is partly dependent on the cause. In general, a process has many causes,
which are also said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Some writers have held that causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.Causality is an abstraction that indicates how the world progresses, so basic a concept that it is more apt as an explanation of other concepts of progression than as something to be explained by others more basic. The concept is like those of agency and efficacy. For this reason, a leap of intuition may be needed to grasp it. Accordingly, causality is implicit in the logic and structure of ordinary language.In English studies of Aristotelian philosophy, the word "cause" is used as a specialized technical term, the translation of Aristotle's term αἰτία, by which Aristotle meant "explanation" or "answer to a 'why' question". Aristotle categorized the four types of answers as material, formal, efficient, and final "causes". In this case, the "cause" is the explanans for the explanandum, and failure to recognize that different kinds of "cause" are being considered can lead to futile debate. Of Aristotle's four explanatory modes, the one nearest to the concerns of the present article is the "efficient" one.
David Hume, as part of his opposition to rationalism, argued that pure reason alone cannot prove the reality of efficient causality; instead, he appealed to custom and mental habit, observing that all human knowledge derives solely from experience.
The topic of causality remains a staple in contemporary philosophy.

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  1. D

    I Could it be that the Big Bang had no cause?

    Everything that I’ve researched into this seems to suggest that we know absolutely nothing about the universe at the beginning of the Big Bang event. Could it be that just nothing is there? Could everything in the universe be described by cause and effect, yet cause and effect does not apply...
  2. L

    B If gravity was a force wouldn't going back in time cause us to float?

    This might sound as a dumb and silly question but if you think about it, it makes sense. If we wrongly assume that gravity is a force just like any other, and given the fact that time is closely related to gravity and that gravitational time dilation is a thing, wouldn't reverse time travel...
  3. S

    Why does decreasing evaporator airflow impact an air conditioner's performance?

    The other day I read on a website that a lower evaporator airflow causes lower low pressure side saturation temperatures and higher delta T on an air-conditioner. Now I think I know why a lower evaporator airflow would cause a high delta T. If there is less air moving over the evaporator, the...
  4. Astronuc

    Can a COVID vaccine cause a cancer (e.g., lymphoma) to be worse?

  5. kma

    Can wet hair cause an electric shock if it gets into outlet/power cord

    Hi I have a very random question I would like to ask. Say if someone just got out the shower and either plugged something into the wall, or plugged a high voltage power cord into a device. In the process of doing so a small clump or strand of their wet hair manages to get into the socket or the...
  6. sol47739

    A Cause of spontaneous emission?

    I am reading this chapter 3 from the book called The Quantum Vacuum by P.Milonni.(Attached in the pdf, look at chapter 3.2 Spontaneous emission)There they say that spontaneous emission is due to both quantum fluctuations and radiation reaction. They say the transitions induced by the quantum...
  7. Buzz Bloom

    Medical An Odd Description of Skin Cancer Cause from UV Radiation

    Scientific American June 2, 2022 Vol 32 Number 6 Page 62 Title: Skin Cancer around the World Two Quotes: “The main cause of skin cancer is the exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays…” “UV radiation is about 40% stronger in New Zealand than it is at corresponding latitudes in the Northern...
  8. Cerenkov

    B Why is this JWST paper a cause for 'Panic'?

    Hello. Could somebody please explain to me why the discovery of the unexpected number of spiral galaxies in this image is a cause for panic? My naïve understanding is that this is at odds with the currently accepted model of galaxy formation in the early universe. Any help give at a Basic...
  9. JandeWandelaar

    A What is the cause of the Mexican hat potential of the Higgs field?

    The Higgs mechanism is an ingenious mechanism inspired by condensed state physics. The famous Mexican hat potential ensures a VEV value of about two times the mass of the Higgs particle (which, as an aside, is of comparable order as the W and Z vector bosons, the difference though is that its a...
  10. S

    Do viruses eventually cause species extinction?

    I am wondering if some complex species have an in-built probable extinction span. The logic goes : Species X originates, individuals have a long lifetime and require a long development before adulthood and so a slow generation rate. Viruses that are much simpler cross to species X, and mutate...
  11. S

    Why would disconnecting the positive cable first on car battery cause sparks?

    When I was 18 years old, I worked at an automobile repair shop doing oil changes and other light mechanical work. The automobile repair shop hired me for this work to free up their real auto mechanics to do more advanced automobile repair work. One time I was assigned the task of replacing a...
  12. silverrahul

    B Can We "See" Effect Before Its Cause?

    If there are 2 events E1 and E2 which have a causal relationship, E1 is the cause and E2 is the effect. We know that there is no frame of reference in which E2 occurs before E1 Now, if there are 2 more events E1x = light from E1 reaching observer X E2x = light from E2 reaching obseever X Now...
  13. jedishrfu

    B An Ancient Solar Storm 9200 years ago is Cause for Concern

  14. B

    B Does gas expanding in a container cause displacement of the container?

    If particles are trapped in one half of a massless container by a barrier, and the barrier is removed so that the particles are allowed to expand to fill the whole container, it seems the center of mass would be displaced to the center of the container, whereas before it was located at the...
  15. K

    A Cause of upward motion of a nutating top

    The locus of the rotational axis of a symmetrical rotating top with a fixed base is shown. This shows a nutation bounded by two circles. What is the intuitive explanation as to why the top axis turns upwards at the lower circle and moves up? ( I understand the circular precession caused by...
  16. haushofer

    A Bernoulli, lift and cause & effect

    Dear all, for a book I'm writing I'm trying to understand the generation of lift by wings on a conceptual level. Some papers I used are given at the end. I won't talk about all the misunderstandings out there concerning the generation of lift. I'm interested, also from a pedagogical level, in...
  17. P

    Do Radio Transmitters cause diffraction?

    I am very confused as to how diffraction even happens. I am thinking that radio transmitters are those tall towers. (My country doesn't have those, our lines are underground). Where is the 2nd antenna, and how does the diagram look like? Does it look like: (The dashes are to fill up space)...
  18. S

    How does metering device in an A/C cause flash gas?

    When refrigerant enters the metering device of an air-conditioner, the refrigerant enters the metering device as 100% liquid. When the refrigerant in a straight air-conditioner goes through the metering device, the metering device lowers the pressure of the refrigerant a great deal. The...
  19. U

    Does smoking Hookah cause COVID?

    I want to know about this thing.
  20. M

    B Could Spontaneous symmetry breaking cause momentum change in an atom?

    If you were to fire a single atom from a fixed point into a chamber of perfect vacuum and measure where it collides with the opposite wall. Could Spontaneous symmetry breaking in the sub atomic particles cause momentum change in the atom, changing the part of the wall the atom interacted with?
  21. C

    B Does GTD Really Cause Gravity? | Brian Greene/Horn/e's 2011 The Hidden Reality

    I didn't pay them much attention until I saw the PBS Space Time's one, and I went "What!? Really!? Am I missing something, here, like a brain? Have they all gone crazy"? And then I remembered where I first saw it: In Brian Greene/Horn/e's 2011 The Hidden Reality book. On P14 there is a...
  22. Buckethead

    B Spacetime: The cause of matter?

    In a paper written by Jonathan Schaffer entitled Spacetime the one substance (https://philpapers.org/rec/SCHSTO-7) which I have not read but which I found as a reference in a book by philosopher Philip Goff, Goff suggests that matter is actually created by a curvature in spacetime rather than...
  23. T

    The main cause behind viscous drag

    What's the main cause behind viscosity and viscous drag? Let's see it in the molecular level. Drag occurs because one molecule attracts another. And the foremost reason for which one mass can attract other is gravity. But, it's too weak in comparison to other forces in nature and at the...
  24. Dario56

    Why Does Electrical Work Cause Changes in the Internal Energy of a System?

    If we look at system at constant temperature and volume which is galvanic cell, first law of thermodynamics states: $$ dU = dQ + dW' $$ Where W' is electrical work done by galvanic cell and Q is heat exchanged with surroundings. As far as I know electrical work is work done by electric field...
  25. D

    Can any object cause fluctuations in a magnetic field?

    Summary:: Can a moving object cause disruptions in a magnetic field that could be detectable? Hello, I was hoping someone could assist me on a query I have regarding disruptions in a magnetic field. For some context, I am creating a science fiction story which features a non-humanoid alien...
  26. N

    Can an Antarctic ice sheet collapse cause a worldwide tsunami?

    Hi, I am not a Physical Student/Physical Scientist. Can an Antarctic ice sheet collapse cause a worldwide tsunami? A big one or bigger like this: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/26/iceberg-size-of-greater-london-breaks-off-antarctica Can you please explain why this can cause a...
  27. J

    Does this cause a memory leak?

    I am working through C++ Primer by Lippman et al. In Section 12.2.1 on smart pointers and dynamic arrays, they give this bit of code: // up points to an array of ten uninitialized ints unique_ptr<int[]> up(new int[10]); up.release(); // automatically uses delete[] to destroy its pointer I just...
  28. Kaguro

    Finding directions of fast axis to cause circular polarisation

    The only thing I can think of is that to create a circularly polarized wave the axes of the quarter wave plate will have to be at 45 degrees to the E vector. Only then it can have both components on the slow and fast axis equal. Then the slow axis will cause delay and the resulting vector will...
  29. V

    Why do phone chargers cause radio interference?

    Hello everyone, I'm not sure I write in the right part of the forum. If not please point me somewhere. Query: I noticed some of the phone chargers interferes with digital radio. I checked some forums and I found reasons like that: It is a low-quality charger and it generates a huge amount of a...
  30. richengle

    I Does time dilation cause different aging rates for people?

    if you could leave the planet, and wait a year in space... would you age much much faster than a person on Earth because the Earth was moving relative to you and you are out of Earth's gravity field [like a higher up clock]?
  31. jack action

    Determining the Cause of Death: A Scientific Perspective

    There is an old local politician who died today. He was 85 years-old. He caught Covid in his nursing home, it rapidly escalated and he died of complications (in around 24h). Here's the thing: he already had a pulmonary condition (the reporter did not specified). He was an avid smoker all of his...
  32. jim mcnamara

    Elk statue 1 Deer 0 - cause rut insanity

    https://www.twincities.com/2009/11/09/deer-loses-head-butt-with-wisconsin-lawn-ornament/ Kind of sad and interesting. Male deer and elk go into rut during mating season, male elephants go into must. In general their aggression "coefficient" goes through the roof. Animal handlers and zoo...
  33. shintashi

    Can Phonons and/or Thz+ Acoustic FX cause Ionizing Radiation?

    For example: https://www.laserfocusworld.com/test-measurement/research/article/16566273/scientists-develop-saseran-acoustic-laserthat-produces-terahertz-sound-waves Can these devices produce ionizing radiation? I understand ultrasound traditionally does not produce ionizing radiation, but I am...
  34. iVenky

    Can light cause eddy currents?

    This may sound dumb.. We know metals reflect microwave. One way to look at this is considering an eddy current formed inside the metal that cause the reflected EM Flux. When glass reflects light, does something similar happen? Can we have eddy currents (or something analogous) with light since...
  35. entropy1

    B What causes loss of quantum coherence?

    Generally, what physical process causes loss of quantum coherence? Is it known?
  36. kolleamm

    Most effective way to cause hyperthrophy in a muscle?

    There's many articles online about the best types of exercises etc... but I want to look at it from a scientific/molecular point of view. What sort of movements would increase the chances of a muscle tearing (microscopically)? Is there a threshold for the amount of weight you have to lift in...
  37. prodigylock

    A What pressure would be needed to cause fusion of water?

    So in a DnD story, someone made a bomb by putting 3375ft^3 of water into a 0.5ft radius sphere and caused it to make a nuke. I was thinking if this was possible then what would actually happen, so I spent an afternoon looking for the answer and only got the pressure and density...
  38. manases

    I Investigations to find the cause of wave collapse?

    Hi, I am very new to this, but I can't help to ask the question to which I cannot find the answer on google. Was the process of investigating of wave collapse - split into sections - to identify which section produces the collapse? I am a web programmer and sometimes this is a method I employ...
  39. Dukon

    A What is the cause of radioactive decay?

    A prior closed post inquired as to precisely what determines the time of any given decay. I wasn't able to comment during that thread, but most responses were about probability and other aspects of the problem. I did not see however any mention of quantum fluctuations as possibly participating...
  40. D

    B Exact cause of radioactive decay?

    I recognize that radioactive decay is a spontaneous process in which an unstable atomic nucleus breaks into smaller, more stable fragments, but exactly what is it that causes an atom to decay at a particular time rather than at some other time?
  41. S

    Foyle's War, The Hide - cause of explosion?

    In the episode The Hide of the series Foyle's War, what causes the explosion in the Wainwright's guest house?
  42. F

    I Can the spin cause the collapse?

    Solving 1D Dirac equation there are 2 matrixs, and from those we get the space probability and current. If that current reflects the spin state, could happen than the EM fields from the matter acting as potentials, drives the spin to up or down, and when it reaches the north os south pole in...
  43. F

    I Why Won't Observation in a 2 Slit Experiment Cause 1 Slit Diffraction?

    From what I understand, if the two-slit experiment is performed while observing a slit for particles, two distinct bands appear rather than interfering. This is a little confusing, as, from what I understand, diffraction is caused by measuring a particle's position (i.e. using a slit to narrow...
  44. C

    Why is the Exact Cause of Preeclampsia still Unclear?

    I've been reading about Preeclampsia, NOT because someone I know has it, but it's part of the risk factor of any pregnancy (anyone you know could be pregnant anytime), and I want to understand the exact cause of it. So far I have read that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-eclampsia "While...
  45. Adesh

    Can a magnetic field ever cause a translation motion?

    Lorentz Law says that for a charged particle moving with a velocity v in a magnetic field B then the force on it is given by $$ \mathbf{F} = q (\mathbf{v} \times \mathbf{B}) $$ Now, if I say that particle’s velocity and the magnetic field are aligned then according to Lorentz Law there will be...
  46. B

    Why didn't radioactive decay probabilities cause the same uproar as QM

    It is equally puzzling why we are confined to probability amplitudes for RD as in QM measurements. Newtonian determinism is undermined in both, so why were there still Newtonian determinists around when QM hit the scene? We still have deterministic equations for both ofc but they are limited to...
  47. S

    Would VR cause human extinction?

    If we have full dive VR would there still be people living in real life apart from poeple who maintain the VR equipment ? I am referring to VR brain implants/BCIs not VR headsets, googles, etc? I am asking hypothetically since i know that full dive VR is still a while away If you were to give a...
  48. Erik Ayer

    I Does downconversion cause pump photon wavefunction collapse?

    I saw a paper on an experiment where a pump beam first went through a double-slit, then was downconverted with BBO. Recently a friend with a PhD in quantum physics said the downconversion will cause the pump's wavefunction to collapse and the implication for this experiment is that the pump...
  49. C

    How does inertia cause the water to stay in the bucket

    Homework Statement: How or why does inertia cause the water to stay in the bucket while spinning it vertically? I know inertia is the tendency of an object to remain at rest or in a state of uniform motion, but I am not exactly sure how it causes the water to stay in the bucket while it is...
  50. Z

    B Gravity -- a force or a cause of a force?

    When i get into discussions regarding "Gravity" i say that it is a force that is caused by gravity. that the acceleration is due to gravity. there are some, like George Musser who have recently said, "Gravity is not a force, but can be thought of as a force". i think what he means is that...