Issue 45: Causal relation between events

Starting Date: 
Working Group: 
Closing Date: 

Another issue that has come up before at least once in the CRM SIG (I believe Steve brought it up) is the modeling of causality -- to explicitly say that event E1 had some kind of causal role in the occurrence of event E2. I think that the CRM deliberately avoids this at present, favouring a more neutral and objective modeling paradigm. However, there are some causal relationships that are sufficiently unarguable that we may want to explicitly identify them: I propose that we could do this using the Property Scope Notes. For example, the scope notes for the property "destroyed" could identify it as being a causal relationship.

Old Proposal: 

E5 Event : has caused (was caused by): Event

Current Proposal: 

New proposal: Identify which existing properties imply causality and model it as common superproperty:

On the last meeting I took over to look at the handling of causal relationships between two events. So far, only the link P20 "had specific purpose" connects two event. It denotes preparatory work. This cannot be regarded as one causing the other, rather both are planned by the same actor.
So, the notion "cause" between events becomes relatively obscure. E.g. "The earthquake caused the destruction of": Are those two events, or two parts of one? Is there a notion of the earthquake as pure a pure bad spirit, causing a series of events, or is the earthquake the total of it?
I'd argue, from a practical point of view, that only long-term effects are worth modelling such sequences. In that case, I ask myself if there is always a state involved: "The earthquake destabilized the building. It broke down a year later, killing five people".

Another notion would be "John caused the destruction of..": In that sense, all active participants and all properties expressing
effects of events on objects are "causal", like "carried out by", "destroyed"...
Another notion would be: "The killing of his father caused John to take bloody revenge". In that case, an event brings an Actor into
a state, which motivates another action of him.

As in the last earthquake in Athens, the legal decision was something like : "The construction of the building X did not follow the prescriptions. This caused the death of ten persons in the earthquake at...".

The most tangible concept I see here is the initialization of a state, which may be worthwhile modelling.

I propose to drop the issue. MD, January 2002.


Issue dropped. Monterey 22/2/2002.