(2018) Human Arenas 1 (3).

Challenging the cause–effect logic

toward a transactional approach for understanding human behavior in crisis situations

Wolff-Michael Roth

pp. 262-287

It is common in the social science literature to describe human activities to be the results of the thoughts, mental frameworks, intentions, identities, and shortcomings of human agents and their interactions with others. In legal systems, the same type of approach exists in the form of laying blame on those judged responsible for having caused some form of damage—which, in the more serious instances, concern situations where human beings died, including accidents (in high-risk industries, traffic) or exchanges where some form of weapon is involved. However, numerous philosophers have pointed out the problematic nature of the concept of causation and the associated laying of blame, which are the consequence of (implicitly or explicitly) using theories of the self-actional or interactional nature of human behavior. The alternative is a transactional approach, in which there are no things but events and constitutive phases thereof that emerge from, are conditioned by, but are not causally connected to preceding phases of events. In this approach, causation disappears and, with it, the possibility to lay blame in an unequivocal manner. A widely publicized case of a police shooting in Toronto (Canada), details of which had been recorded by multiple cameras, is used to exemplify and make the case for the approach.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s42087-018-0025-7

Full citation:

Roth, W. (2018). Challenging the cause–effect logic: toward a transactional approach for understanding human behavior in crisis situations. Human Arenas 1 (3), pp. 262-287.

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