Axiom of Causality
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Axiom of Causality

The Axiom of Causality is the proposition that everything in the universe has a cause and is thus an effect of that cause. This means that if a given event occurs, then this is the result of a previous, related event. If an object is in a certain state, then it is in that state as a result of another object interacting with it previously.

According to William Whewell the concept of causality depends on three axioms:[1]

  1. Nothing takes place without a cause
  2. The magnitude of an effect is proportional to the magnitude of its cause
  3. To every action there is an equal and opposed reaction.

A similar idea is found in western philosophy for ages (sometimes called Principle of Universal Causation (PUC) or Law of Universal Causation), for example:

In addition, everything that becomes or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause. -- Plato in Timaeus

Modern version of PUC is connected with Newtonian physics, but is also criticized for instance by David Hume who presents skeptical reductionist view on causality.[2] Since then his view on the concept of causality is often predominating (see Causality, After the Middle Ages). Kant answered to Hume in many aspects, defending the a priority of universal causation.[3]

Example for the axiom: if a baseball is moving through the air, it must be moving this way because of a previous interaction with another object, such as being hit by a baseball bat.

An epistemological axiom is a self-evident truth. Thus the "Axiom of Causality" implicitly claims to be a universal rule that is so obvious that it does not need to be proved to be accepted. Even among epistemologists, the existence of such a rule is controversial. See the full article on Epistemology.


One implication of the Axiom is that if a phenomenon appears to occur without any observable external cause, the cause must be internal. See Compatibilism.


Another implication of the Axiom is that all change in the universe is a result of the continual application of physical laws.


If all events are cause and effect relationships that follow universal rules, then all events--past, present and future--are theoretically determinate. See Causal determinism.

First Cause

If all effects are the result of previous causes, then the cause of a given effect must itself be the effect of a previous cause, which itself is the effect of a previous cause, and so on, forming an infinite logical chain of events that can have no beginning.

See also


  1. ^ Losee, John. Theories of Causality: From Antiquity to the Present. p. 129.
  2. ^ James Baillie, "Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Hume on Morality"
  3. ^

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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