States, Processes and Events, and the Ontology of Causal Relations

Antony Galton

In M. Donnelly and G. Guizzardi, Formal Ontology in Information Systems: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference (FOIS 2012), IOS Press, 2012, pages 279-292.
ISBN 978-1-61499-083-3


The subject of causality is large, and fraught with difficulties. In this paper, we concentrate on two aspects which are of importance when we seek to handle causality from an ontological point of view, The first concerns the range of particulars between which causal and causal-like relations may hold. In addition to events --- the domain most typically chosen as the objects of causation --- we consider the role played by processes and states, taking a particular view of the nature of these entities. The second aspect concerns the range of different causal and causal-like relations to be considered. In addition to causation itself we consider such things as initiation and termination, perpetuation, enablement and prevention. We do not present a fully-fledged ontological theory of causation, but lay down some basic ingredients that should be taken into account in the construction of such a theory.

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Antony Galton
Last modified: Mon May 12 09:43:28 BST 2014