Course dates: 6 - 10 November 2017. Causal inference is a central aim of many empirical investigations, and arguably most studies in the fields of medicine ...
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Excerpted from Nancy R. Tague’s The Quality Toolbox , Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press, 2004.
In the first case, it would not be correct to say that A's being a triangle caused it to have three sides, since the relationship between triangularity and three-sidedness is that of definition. The property of having three sides actually determines A's state as a triangle. Nonetheless, even when interpreted counterfactually, the first statement is true. An early version of Aristotle's "four cause" theory is described as recognizing "essential cause". In this version of the theory, that the closed polygon has three sides is said to be the "essential cause" of its being a triangle.  This use of the word 'cause' is of course now far obsolete. Nevertheless, it is within the scope of ordinary language to say that it is essential to a triangle that it has three sides.
Updated 5 June 2013 by the Department of Social Medicine
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