APPENDIX
THE MEANING OF ECONOMIC CAUSATION

1 Introduction

THE purpose of this appendix is to make precise some of the notions used in the foregoing chapters, in particular the concept of economic causation. When we say that a certain war was due to economic causes what exactly do we mean? What must be the nature of any general theory of the economic causes of war? The inquiry may seem to be unnecessarily abstract. But in view of the extraordinary ambiguity of everyday language in this connection a short clarification of our ideas is perhaps not without its uses.


2 The Notion of an Historical Cause

Before doing this, however, there are certain points concerning historical explanations of any kind to which it is desirable to draw attention.

To say that one event is due to another is always a very hazardous procedure. For, strictly speaking, it is possible to argue that anything that happens anywhere at any moment is a resultant of what has happened everywhere at every preceding moment. To explain exhaustively the history of anything involves retailing exhaustively the history of everything. There is no such thing as isolated causation.

In spite of this, in everyday life, we do not feel under such encyclopaedic obligations; and, even in serious historical explanation, our objective is much more limited. For, while it would be wrong to pick out any single antecedent of

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