For e.g. a recipe to bake bread consists of finding the ingredients, making the dough and using the oven. If we performed those steps, would the effects of those manifestations become the causes of the baking of bread, or would they 'replace' it?

  • What does "replace their results" mean here? Whether making the dough, say, is a cause of baking the bread or a part/stage of it? That depends on what exactly the instructions cover, and what is conventionally taken as part of the process and what as preparation. Not much philosophy to it.
    – Conifold
    Sep 27, 2022 at 21:13
  • 1
    Common sense suggests your hunger is more likely causing your baking of bread than your other steps?... Sep 27, 2022 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


Do the effects of performing instructions replace or cause their results?

In the example, following the recipe is a cause of the baked loaf of bread.

Specifically, following the recipe is the efficient cause of the bread. The efficient cause is one of Aristotle’s four causes of change. It is the combination of human activities that is part of the process of transformation.

The other three causes are:

Material; that out of which something is made; here, the raw ingredients of flour, water, yeast, and so forth.

Formal; the results of using the recipe with the ingredients; here, the baked loaf of bread.

Final; the purpose of the effort; here, to satisfy hunger.

The efficient cause is usually placed between the material and formal causes.

So while it might look as though the process replaces a set of raw materials with a finished product, the recipe is one cause of four that result in satisfied hunger.

  • The "formal" cause would be the recipe itself as an abstract specification.
    – causative
    Sep 28, 2022 at 0:36

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