I have another burning question about cause and effect and I hope at least one person here will find it useful.

So I read this blog post recently and I'm basically just looking for as many perspectives for this as possible


The gist of it is using & operators and OR operators to map out cause and effect.

When I first googled this to learn more all I found was that this type of logic is called Boolean logic. But that's really all I could find and I'm not interested in learning about Boolean logic in general.

I understand that both cause and effect is technically just the same thing with "before" and "after" being the main difference and that it's difficult to approach with really deep philosophy. Especially with the argument that nothing is considered a cause unless it is both necessary and sufficient for an effect.

But as long as I can focus on the layman's aspect and not the super confusing stuff, than I would love to generate discussion and learn more about a Boolean - causality connection. Or at the very least figure out where I can learn more. Again thanks in advance for the answers!

  • 1
    A good place to start before deciding in what 'cause' and 'effect' consist would be to become facile with each type of cause which are; transient, necessary, immanent, eminent, proximal, sufficient and a few more. From there you can begin to sort out which areas in philosophy each applies to, and which appeals to your intellectual take.
    – user37981
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 3:46
  • 1
    Boolean logic is part of the language we use to describe reality; per se, it is not specifically involved with the cause-effect problem. The taste of an ice-cream is either good or bad (boolean logic); today's climate is either cold or hot. Obviously, every attempt at a description/explanation of causality will need language, and thus the "deductive" apparatus embodied into it. Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 9:34
  • Recent related posts: 'Is there a Possible World in which Humeanism isn't true?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/81817/… 'Is logic “universe-dependent”?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/81822/… Causality is just a conceptual overlay, to make sense of patterns that result fundamentally from symmetries. Digital logic, is a kind of' core abstraction', to look at what can simulate what, innterms of interactions.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 0:10

2 Answers 2


Broadly speaking, what your author is trying to do is to analyse various inputs to a system and determine how they have contributed to the outcome. If two inputs are jointly necessary for the output (both occurring is needed for the consequence), then we can model this using an "AND" boolean logic gate. Similarly, if two inputs are jointly sufficient for the output (either occurring would validate the consequence), we can model this using an "OR" boolean logic gate.

A "cause" attribution is a kind of consequence statement - "If some condition X is the case then the result is Y". The idea behind using boolean logic here is that you are elaborating what, exactly, the condition X is. This condition might be built up from various logical parts, and these fit together in a "proposition" using the logical/boolean operators.

The boolean logic gate framework emerges from a simple model of how logical propositions hang together, and is a nice way to demonstrate this logical dependency visually.


First, causality is nothing more than a mental fact.

From a logical point of view, causality is moreover an expectation, a feature from reason, understanding, than a physical fact. If you speak at the door, at the same time somebody is opening it, it is impossible to say that the cause the door was opened was the vibrations emitted by your voice. In the universe, everything is the cause of everything. Judea Pearl (although a bit complex, you might take a look to his book about causality) noticed that, and established formal ways to define that one fact is the cause of a second. But that is based on conventions (which allows us to state formally and legally when a vaccine is the cause of the creation of inner defenses). It is impossible to state that the flap of a butterfly's wings in France will not cause a storm in Brazil in six months. According to Hume, causality is nothing more than a constant conjunction between a sequence of events which gives the impression of a necessary connection.

Second, causality provides a partial view of nature.

From a systemic point of view, an open system has multiple inputs and multiple outputs. For example, a coffee machine will produce a coffee (consequence) when you introduce a coin (apparent cause). But the fact is that the coffee is not made of the metal of the coin. The coffee is the result of several inputs (coffee, water, sugar, electricity, a plastic cup, a button signal) and it is not the only result (the machine will also waste some water, sugar, a lot of heat, and money for the seller. From the mental point of view of an individual, a button push in the web site of Amazon (cause) will produce a book on his mailbox after some days (consequence).

Reason uses such simple mechanism in order to survive: focusing on a single input of a system, and expecting a single output. That is usually enough to take decisions and survive (e.g. the dog barks --cause--, then I get far from it or it might bite me --consequence--, without considering the whole situation; that is enough to survive). Such point of view is called reductionism. The systems discipline is precisely the one that focus its discourse in the fact that systems should always be observed as a whole, and not only with a reductionist view. It should be remarked that reductionism might be considered a pejorative perspective by some writers, which is not necessarily correct. A baby just needs to cry (cause) to get some food (consequence), without need to consider the whole.

A "boolean-causality connection" would just be a mental idea of a necessary connection between two logical facts.

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