Author Archives: Fred Eaker

Single Events Have Multiple Causes

The agency theory of causation … separates ‘causes’ from mere ‘conditions’ [and] our ability to control them.

… it should be obvious that complex social phenomena always have multiple causes, and we should be suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. I am not, however, promoting fence-sitting – nothing of the sort. In fact, I believe the change in perspective that renders causes in terms of handles offers up two practical heuristics for navigating causal disputes. First, when it is apparent that there exists a choice of causal handles, advocates of a particular handle must go beyond merely demonstrating that it exists. They will be forced to say why their handle is fairer, or otherwise more desirable, to lean upon. And second, advocates of a particular causal handle will be forced to speak of practicalities. If a cause isn’t tractable, then it is not strictly speaking a cause at all. (Joe Boswell We must recognise that single events have multiple causes)

Climate Change and Arctic Oil

A last great unprotected wilderness, safe haven for endangered species and home to native people whose subsistence lifestyle has survived in harmony with nature for thousands of years.

It is here that Shell plans to drill for oil, pulling the detonator on a carbon bomb which eventually could spray 150bn tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The irony is that the drilling is only possible because manmade climate change is already causing this region to grow warmer twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The melting ice makes these huge reserves of oil and gas more accessible. (Terry Macalister, The new cold war)

Multinational Untouchables

When you think of the worst abuses in poor countries — land grabs, sweatshops, cash-filled envelopes passed to politicians — you probably think they’re committed by companies based in rich ones: Nike in Indonesia, Shell in Nigeria, Dow in Bhopal, India.

These are the cases you’re most likely to hear about, but they are no longer representative of how these abuses actually take place — or who commits them. These days, the worst multinational corporations have names you’ve never heard. They come from places like China and South Africa and Russia. The countries where they are headquartered are unable to regulate them, and the countries where they operate are unwilling to. (Michael Hobbes, “The Untouchables:Why it’s getting harder to stop multinational corporations“)