Affiliations: [a] Graduate School of Advanced Science and Technology, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), 1-1 Asahidai, Nomi, 923-1292, Japan. E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org | [b] Research Center for Service Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), 1-1 Asahidai, Nomi, 923-1292, Japan. E-mail: email@example.com | [c] Laboratory for Applied Ontology (LOA), ISTC-CNR, via alla Cascata 56/c, Povo, 38123, Trento, 38123, Italy
Abstract: Causation is shrouded in mystery. Notwithstanding much work on causation in a number of different domains, it remains a challenge to build an adequate theory of causation for applied ontology. This paper offers a functional perspective on causation, thereby enabling domain experts to have a fairly expressive representation of various causal phenomena. As for its theoretical basis, causation is modeled upon the device ontology view of reality, assuming an intimate connection between causation and context; and a conceptual affinity between causation and function is discussed in detail, based on the recently developed theory of systemic function and the idea of ‘causally efficacious occurrents’, thereby introducing achieves and prevents as two basic causal relations. In addition, the idea of a state-centered approach to causation results in the definition of allows and disallows causal relations, in order to accommodate a wide range of examples based on the state-mediated type of causation. All this leads to three kinds of causal relata (events, processes, and states) and a fourfold distinction of causal relations (achieves, prevents, allows, and disallows). This paper also provides a preliminary formalization of these four causal relations and takes the first step towards a full-fledged functional theory of causation.
Keywords: Causation, context, function, device ontology, systemic function