Is there a problem with the causal criterion of event identity?

Rafael DE CLERCQ, Wai Yin LAM, Jiji ZHANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The issue of event identity may be interesting in itself, but it also bears on more specific, and perhaps more central, issues in philosophy such as the issue of whether mental events are identical to physical events. The question of how the identity of events is to be decided is therefore an important one. In this paper, we will focus on one possible answer to this question, namely the causal criterion of event identity put forward by Donald Davidson (1969). According to this criterion, events are the same if and only if they have the same causes and effects. In other words, (Causal criterion) Event x = event y if and only if, for all z, x causes z if and only if y causes z, and z causes x if and only if z causes y.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Versions of this paper have been presented at Hong Kong University, Stockholm University (Stockholm Philosophy Colloquium), and the University of Tokyo (Tokyo Forum for Analytic Philosophy). Zhang’s research was supported in part by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong under the General Research Fund LU341910.


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