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)

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