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186-188 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Analysis Committee Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3327383 . Accessed: 09/07/2012 19:48

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INUS CONDITIONS

By A. J. DALE his recent paper 'On the Nature of INUS Conditionality' IN 44.2, March 1984, pp. 49-52) T. C. Denise claims to (ANALYSIS

have repaired a flaw discovered by F. Jackson in Mackie's definition of an INUS condition. I shall argue that Mackie's definition does not have the purported flaw, that Denise's modification would not in any case succeed in repairing the flaw, and that the modification runs counter to Mackie's explicit intentions and makes the definition useless as part of an analysis of 'A caused P'. The definition which Denise quotes from Mackie is as follows:

'A is an INUS condition of a result P if and only if, for some X and for some Y, (AX or Y) is a necessary and sufficient condition of P, but A is not a sufficient condition of P and X is not a sufficient condition of P' (Mackie, 'Clauses and Conditions', American Philosophical Quarterly 2, 1965, pp. 245-64).

The flaw in the definition, Denise claims, is revealed in F. Jackson's review of Mackie's paper (Journal of Symbolic Logic 47, 1982, pp. 470-3). It is that any irrelevant condition will turn out to be an INUS condition under that definition. Consider conditions S1 and S2 such that S1 or S2 is a necessary and sufficient condition for P. Then for anyA such that neither A nor -A is sufficient condition for P or S 1 (i) A. (--A or S 1) or (S2 or --A.S1) is a necessary and sufficient condition for P where neither A nor (--A or S 1) is a sufficient condition for P. Thus, it is claimed, A is an INUS condition for P under Mackie's definition. But this is too quick: it ignores Mackie's explicit qualifications. He amplifies his definition in the paragraph following his definition in order to forestall misunderstandings. He explicitly states that the disjunction should consist of minimal sufficient conditions. Jackson's putative counterexample ignores this requirement since it contains the disjunct ~A.S1 which is not a minimum sufficient condition since S1 is ex hypothesi sufficient alone. Denise's further discussion of Mackie's article 'Mill's Methods of Induction' (The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, ed. P. Edwards, 1967, vol. 5, pp. 324-32) shows a total disregard of the proviso that the Y of the definition should be a disjunction of minimum sufficient conditions. For, though Mackie does explicitly use in illustrating a variation on one of Mill's methods a case where (A.B.'-C or A.~B.C or -A.B.- C) is a necessary and sufficient condition for P, it is not the case that this justifies Denise's assertion that under the definition A and --A are here INUS conditions for P. In this example B. -C is itself a sufficient condition for P and so A does not fulfil the requirements of 186

INUS CONDITIONS

187

an INUS condition since in the definition X must not be sufficient for P nor must Y contain any but minimum sufficient conditions. However, there are other examples which cannot be pushed aside quite so summarily. Suppose S is a necessary and sufficient condition for P and neither A nor ^A are sufficient for P or S. Then:

is necessary and sufficient for P where neither A nor (S or ^-A) is a sufficient condition for P and ~A.(S or A) does not contain any conjuncts which are themselves sufficient for P. This example is an extension of J. Kim's which showed that almost any condition can be incorporated as a conjunct in a minimum sufficient condition (J. Kim, 'Causes and Events: Mackie on Causation', Journal of Philosophy 68, 1971, p. 433). As Kim notes Mackie indicates that only sentences in disjunctive normal form should be considered in the formulation of the necessary and sufficient conditions for P. (Mackie, 'Causes and Conditions', p. 255). Now limitation to formulations in disjunctive normal form has its own disadvantages in this context (vide Kim) but it does free the definition from the accusation that it allows irrelevant conditions to be INUS conditions, for (ii) is logically equivalent to the normal form A.S or ^A.S and the sufficiency of S guarantees that this formulation fails to give A INUS status. It will thus be impossible to find an example in which some irrelevant condition occurs as A in (AX or Y) where (AX or Y) is in disjunctive normal form and otherwise satisfies Mackie's conditions. Each of the examples of irrelevant conditions purportedly deemed an INUS condition under the definition trades on ^A occurring as a disjunct in X. Thus A. ~A would occur in its expansion and would be eliminated by simplification to a disjunctive normal form.1 Denise proposes to repair Mackie's definition by inserting an extra clause, viz: A should be a necessary condition of P.X. This addition entails that the A of (i) will not be an INUS condition, for if S1 and ^A then both P and X obtain but A does not obtain. Similarly for my example (ii), if S and ^A then both P and X obtain but A does not. Unfortunately Denise's modified definition is subject to the same objection: it grants INUS status on irrelevant conditions. Suppose S is a necessary and sufficient condition for P; then so is (iii) A. (-S. --A or S. S) or S If neither A nor -A is sufficient for P or S then A is an INUS condition for P under Denise's revised definition since if P obtains then

'Since it is not altogether clear in the literature what counts as a formula in disjunctive normal form I should make it clear that I use the term to exclude any conjunction (within the disjunction) which contains a sentence and its negation. Otherwise Mackie's definition is open to the trivial A. ~A or S as a necessary and sufficient condition for P.

188

ANALYSIS

so does S. Now S together with (~S.~ A or S.~ S) entails A (or any other sentence for that matter!) and so A is a necessary condition of P.X where X here has the form (-S. -A or S. -S). Once again a formulation in disjunctive normal form disposes of A as a candidate for INUS status as (iii) reduces to S. Moreover Denise's proposal runs counter to Mackie's explicit intentions for Mackie makes allowances for different A and B to be conjuncts in two minimal sufficient conditions whose other conjuncts are identical, i.e. both A.X and B.X may occur in the disjunction (Mackie, ibid., p. 248). It is also far too strict a condition when the purpose of Mackie's introduction of INUS conditions is recalled. Mackie maintains that a statement of the form 'A caused P' often makes implicitly the claim that A is (at least) an INUS condition for P. Now Denise's addition to the definition would mean that we would by making such a statement be implicitly asserted that --A is a necessary condition for each of the other minimum sufficient conditions. We should then be prevented from correctly claiming that A caused P unless ~A was so incorporated. But this consequence is surely undesirable. Consider a switching circuit composed of switches A' and B' in series and these in parallel to C' and D' in series. If A is the condition that A' is closed etc. then a necessary and sufficient condition for the current to flow is:

A.B or C.D.

Under Mackie's definition but not under Denise's modification A is an INUS condition for the current to flow, for it is perfectly possible for the current to flow and B to obtain without A obtaining - precisely when C and D obtain. If in fact the circuit was in the state of B' closed and C' open there is no doubt that the closing of A' would be deemed to be the cause of the current's flowing as indeed it would on Mackie's definition since he requires in addition to A's being an INUS condition, that it should also obtain, that B should obtain and that C.D should not. Denise, on the other hand, does not allow that A is an INUS condition and so it could not in this situation cause the current flow. This alone is sufficient to rule out the proposed modification to Mackie's definition. There is much that is wrong with Mackie's definition as Kim's cited paper has made clear, but Denise's modification does nothing to cure those particular ills.

? A. J. DALE 1984

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