Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


What is it to say that smoking causes cancer, that chili causes heartburn, and that drinking causes automobile accidents? The identification or attribution of causation is part of our everyday conceptual apparatus. The deployment of this conceptual apparatus, however, can be philosophically difficult and politically controversial, as can be seen from the discussion of the report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography. The Commission's most prominent finding was expressed as a causal claim, that "substantial exposure to sexually violent materials . . .bears a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and, for some subgroups, possibly to unlawful acts of sexual violence."' Exploration of the meaning of, justification for, and implications of that causal claim may enlighten us about statements of causation in general, while also helping to clarify claims made in the context of discussing what is commonly and unfortunately referred to as "pornography".