4
CAUSATION

One issue deserving further analysis is the topic of causation itself.

( Dessler 1991: 351)

the 'causes' of the war between Octavius and Antony are the events preceding that war, exactly as the causes of what happens in Act IV of Antony and Cleopatra are what happened in the first three acts.

( Veyne 1984: 91)

HAVING considered necessary conditions of war, and correlates of war, we should move on to discuss the outcomes of various historical investigations into the causes of particular wars. Before this, in this chapter, we offer an analysis of the concept of causation. This detour is necessary for a number of reasons.

In the first place, if we do not understand what it means to say that something 'caused' something else, we cannot hope to find what 'caused' a particular war. Secondly, even though '[n]early everyone knows that correlation is not causation' ( Haas 1974: 59), it cannot be said with the same degree of confidence that nearly everyone knows what it means to say that something 'caused' something else, and, in particular, whether a causal statement of this type necessarily involves correlational knowledge. Thirdly, if it were to be found that this last question should be answered in the affirmative, that is to say, if 'the establishment of covariation-- while not sufficient--is indeed necessary to the search for causation' ( Singer 1979b: 181; emphasis in original), then we could not simply 'move on' from the correlational to the historical enquiry. If, as Rummel states, '[o]bserved concurrence of phenomena is a necessary . . . condition for the assertion of causality' ( 1972: 32; emphasis added), then it may be that, even when in search of the causes of particular wars, we could not in fact move away from our correlational question (b). We need some reassurance that this is not in fact so.

-114-

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On the Causes of War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Questions 11
  • 2 - Prerequisites 43
  • Conclusion 77
  • 3 - Correlates 80
  • Conclusion 112
  • 4 - Causation 114
  • Conclusion 150
  • 5 - Origins 153
  • Conclusion 195
  • Conclusion 199
  • References 211
  • Index 231
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