Causality is the relationship between cause and effect. Simple connections between cause and effect are linear and unidirectional. Complex connections between cause and effect, when organizations are thought of as systems, involve, circular causality, interdependent systems, and non-linearity. Nonlinearity is where one variable can have a more than proportional effect on another due to the very complex connections between cause and effect. With nonlinearity it may become unclear what cause and effect mean, the links between cause and effect may become distant in time and space, and the links between cause and effect may disappear for all practical purposes.
The philosophical concept of causality or causation refers to the set of all particular “”causal“” or “”cause-and-effect“” relations. Most generally, causation is a relationship that holds between events, properties, variables, or states of affairs.
According to Sowa (2000), up until the twentieth century, three assumptions described by Max Born in 1949 were dominant in the definition of causality:
- Causality postulates that there are laws by which the occurrence of an entity B of a certain class depends on the occurrence of an entity A of another class, where the word entity means any physical object, phenomenon, situation, or event. A is called the cause, B the effect.
- Antecedence postulates that the cause must be prior to, or at least simultaneous with, the effect.
- Contiguity postulates that cause and effect must be in spatial contact or connected by a chain of intermediate things in contact.”” (Born, 1949, as cited in Sowa, 2000)
Causality always implies at least some relationship of dependency between the cause and the effect. For example, deeming something a cause may imply that, all other things being equal, if the cause occurs the effect does as well, or at least that the probability of the effect occurring increases. However, according to Sowa (2000), “”relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience.
Expressing causal relationships:
In natural languages, causal relationships can be expressed by the following causative expressions:-
- A set of causative verbs [cause, make, create, do, effect, produce, occasion, perform, determine, influence; construct, compose, constitute; provoke, motivate, force, facilitate, induce, get, stimulate; begin, commence, initiate, institute, originate, start; prevent, keep, restrain, preclude, forbid, stop, cease];
- A set of causative names [actor, agent, author, creator, designer, former, originator; antecedent, causality, causation, condition, fountain, occasion, origin, power, precedent, reason, source, spring; reason, grounds, motive, need, impulse];
- A set of effective names [consequence, creation, development, effect, end, event, fruit, impact, influence, issue, outcome, outgrowth, product, result, upshot]