Models of Causality and Causal Inference

This background paper from Barbara Befani is an appendix from the UK Government's Department for International Development's working paper Broadening the range of designs and methods for impact evaluations. The paper reviews the various notions of causality in the philosophy of science that are 'embedded' into everyday activity.


  • Simultaneous Presence Of Cause And Effect: The Successionist View 2
  • Regularity 2
  • How Causation Is Claimed: By Agreement 3
  • Counterfactuals 4
  • How Causation Is Claimed: By Difference 5
  • Critiques To The Successionist View 6
  • Direction Of Causation 7
  • Correlation Or Causation? 8
  • Can Causes Be Independent / Unconditional? 9
  • Co-Presence Of Multiple Causes: Necessity And Sufficiency 10
  • The Inus Cause And The “Causal Field” 13
  • Configurational Causation 14
  • Critiques Of Configurational Causation: Component Causes Of Mechanisms 14
  • Manipulation And Generation 15
  • Human Agency: Claiming Causation Through Intervention 15
  • Critique #1: Lack Of External Validity (Accidentality) 16
  • Critique #2: Threats To Internal Validity 16
  • Critique #3: Pre-Emption 17
  • Generative Causation: The Description Of The Causal Mechanism 18
  • How Causation Is Claimed: Digging Deep 20
  • Quality Of Inference 21
  • Mechanisms Have Parts: Component Causes And Complete Mechanisms 22


Befani, B. Department for International Development (DfID), (2012). Models of causality and causal inference. Retrieved from website:

Originally sourced from Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS

'Models of Causality and Causal Inference' is referenced in: