- Mar 2017
“sufficient cause,” whichmeans a complete causal mechanism, can bedefined as a set of minimal conditions andevents that inevitably produce disease; “mini-mal” implies that all of the conditions orevents are necessary to that occurrence
Set of minimal conditions together define the sufficient cause or complete causal mechanism.
an event, condition, or characteristicthat preceded the disease event and withoutwhich the disease event either would nothave occurred at all or would not have oc-curred until some later time
The expression, "without which the disease or event would not have occurred", points out to another important concept here, the notion of counterfactual theory of causation.
We can define a cause of a specific dis-ease event as an antecedent event, condition,or characteristic that was necessary for theoccurrence of the disease at the moment itoccurred
Note the criteria:
- Cause as an event
- Cause as a condition
- Cause as characteristic
- Cause is antecedent
- Cause is necessary
- Cause is conditional We will see all of these conditions expanded
we need a moregeneral conceptual model that can serve as acommon starting point in discussions ofcausal theories
Note that we start with the example of the bulb and then expand to generalise this example to larger issues -- in our case, health.
Theeffect usually occurs immediately after turn-ing on the switch, and as a result we slip intothe frame of thinking in which we identify theswitch as a unique cause
Another important point -- often the last observable event tends to be considered the "cause" of an outcome. One must be careful to find out other possible causes of an outcome.
When allother factors are in place, turning the switchwill cause the light to go on, but if one ormore of the other factors is lacking, the lightwill not go on
This is a very important point in this paper. It points to the notions of multifactorial causality -- that is, an outcome will more often than not have more than one cause, and one cause is not usually sufficient to result in the effect.