Recorded live video lesson of MPhil research methodology in public administration, philosophy of social science, theory of causality

Central Department of Public Administration (CDPA), Tribhuvan Universiy has been offering its regular on-campus class online. Today, we have successfully completed live session for MPhil 501 Research methodology in public administration I, Philosophy of social science, theory of causality on Baisakh 10 2077, Tuesday (21/04/2020). Students who were unable to attend the class are notified to login with with CDPA account and access the class slides.

If you were unable to attend the class for any reason, you have to login to and access the class at any time. You need cdpa account to access the class. If you don’t have one, please contact college administration. You can also download the slides and check yourself with sample quiz (not graded). The next live session class is scheduled on Baisakh 11-12, 2077, Tuesday and Wednesday (22-23/04/2020).

If you want to view the recorded video for the live session, please click the link MPhil 501 Research Methodology in Public Administration I, Philosophy of Social Science – Theories of causality, at Central Department of Public Administration (CDPA), Tribhuvan University (TU), by Prof. Shree Krishna Shrestha.

The class was started at 7:30am. It was about 1 hour ad 10 minutes long. There were 23 attendees in total who were present in the class. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to write a mail.

Prof Shreekrishna Shrestha presented following ideas during his lectures

Theories of Causality

A Big Question

  • Regularity???
  • Something vs. Nothingness about Universe, Society, System, Culture
  • Searching Something or Proving Nothingness
  • Is not it this question is even bigger and more important than the question “Is there a God?”

Searching for Something or Nothingness

  • Science vs Spirituality
  • Something vs Nothing
  • Scientific Explanation – Progression for searching for something
  • Something- cause
  • Cause- Necessary /Essentiality
  • Prediction- exploration

Necessary condition for policy change

  • Social scientists of all stripes – e.g.,
    • Game theorists
    • Quantitative scholars
    • Social constructivists, etc.
  • have proposed numerous necessary condition hypotheses. For example,
    • the social and economic “requisites” of democracy have been debated for over 100 years now
  • The agreement of all veto players is a necessary condition for policy change

What is a cause?

  • A variable, some of whose values bring about or increase the value of the effect another variable
  • Two more specific notions of cause:
    • The cause is sufficient to bring about the effect
    • The cause is necessary to bring about the effect
  • Neither works perfectly, but each is suggestive of important features of causation and help us understand how to test causal claims

Necessary & Sufficient Conditions

  • “Necessary” and “sufficient” mean exactly what you think they mean!
  • “Necessary” means “required”
    • Being at least 18 is a necessary condition for drinking legally.
  • “Sufficient” means “enough”
    • A blood alcohol level of exactly 0.08 is a sufficient condition on being legally drunk.

Discussion of Casual explanations

  • Questions of importance arise almost without fail in the discussion of causal explanations.
  • For example, is resource mobilization more important than political opportunity in explaining social movements?

Necessary Condition /Cause

  • Necessary cause is a condition that use to be present for the effect to occur. 
  • necessary condition is a condition that must be present for an event to occur.
  • A condition A is said to be necessary for a condition B, if (and only if) the falsity (nonexistence /non-occurrence) [as the case may be] of A guarantees (or brings about) the falsity (nonexistence /non-occurrence) of B.

Necessary Condition

  • Must be there for the effect, the charge, to be true
  • If absent, cannot occur.
  • No oxygen, no combustion.
  • No seeds, no plants to grow
  • There are many ways to express that something is a necessary condition.
  • Here are a number of examples, all – more or less – saying the same thing: 
    • “Air is necessary for human life.”
    • “Human beings must have air to live.“
    • “If a human being is alive, then that human being has air (to breathe).”

Sufficient condition

  •  A sufficient condition  is a condition that always produces the effect in question. 
  •  A sufficient condition is a condition or set of conditions that will produce the event.
  •  A condition A is said to be sufficient for a condition B, if (and only if)
    • the truth (existence /occurrence) [as the case may be] of A guarantees (or brings about) the truth (existence /occurrence) of B.
  • For example, while air is a necessary condition for human life, it is by no means a sufficient condition, i.e. it does not, by itself, i.e. alone, suffice for human life.
  • For example, skipping the final exam in this course would be a sufficient cause of failing it, though it is not a necessary cause: you could fail in other ways.

Necessary and Sufficient Condtions

  • A necessary condition is a condition that must be present in order for some outcome to occur. Its presence, however, does not guarantee that the outcome will occur. By comparison, if a sufficient condition exists, the predicted outcome will definitely take place.

Example: Poverty and Revolution

  • One could argue that poverty is a cause of many revolution.
  • Why a revolution in one country but not in other having similar feature ?
  • Example: necessary and sufficient condition for revolution
  • Perhaps poverty is necessary but not sufficient for such a revolution.
  • Then, in addition to poverty, one or more other factors may be needed for a revolution, such as a perception of inequality, unmet rising expectations of an end to poverty, or an organized revolutionary movement.
  • If the presence of poverty alone always led to revolution, then it would be both necessary and sufficient.
  • When we study hypotheses containing more than two variables, we take the necessary versus sufficient aspect of relationships into particular consideration.
  • Being a mammal is a sufficient condition for being human.
  • Being alive is a suffcient condition for having a right to life.

Evaluating Causes: Separate potential causes into three categories

  • Conditions that are necessary (but not sufficient) for the outcome to occur.
  • Conditions that are sufficient for the outcome to occur.
  • Conditions that are necessary and sufficient for the outcome to occur.
  • Water+ Rice + Fire= Necessary or Sufficient

Conditions that are sufficient for the outcome to occur.

  • Sufficient cause as “…a complete causal mechanism” that “inevitably produces something.”
  • Consequently, a “sufficient cause” is not a single factor, but a minimum set of factors and circumstances that, if present in a given individual, will produce the some result.

Conditions that are sufficient for the outcome to occur.

A sufficient cause for AIDS might consist of the following components:

  • Exposure to an individual with HIV
  • Repeatedly engaging in risky sexual behavior with that individual
  • Absence of antiretroviral drugs that reduce viral load of HIV

What about sufficient and necessary cause

  1. You must pay if you want to enter in movie hall.
  2. Suppose Ram is a tall but unsuccessful person. Does it show that
    1. being tall is not sufficient for being successful, or
    2. being tall is not necessary for being successful?
  3. I will pay for lunch if and only if you pay for dinner.
  4. The presence of the rule of law, being a just society
  5. Necessary
  6. Yes for (a) and no for (b).
  7. Necessary and sufficient
  8. This is a difficult one! Presumably the first is necessary but not sufficient for the second.
  9. Necessary or Sufficient Conditions- Trivialness or Significant


  • A conditional is an if-then sentence: “If ……………… , (then) ……………….
  • In a conditional the clause that follows the “if” is the antecedent; the other clause is the consequent.
  • Example: If it rains then it pours.

Conditions for being Square

  • “X” has (exactly) four sides
  • Each of x’s sides is straight
  • X lies in a plane
  • Each of x’s sides is equal in length to each of the others
  • Each of x’s interior angles is equal to the others (they are each right [i.e. 90o] angles)
  • The sides of x are joined at their ends
  • The foregoing is a complete set of necessary conditions, i.e. the set comprises a set of sufficient condition for x’s being square. 
  • Frequently the terminology of “individually necessary” and “jointly sufficient” is used.
  • One might say, for example, “each of the members of the foregoing set is individually necessary and, taken all together, they are jointly sufficient for x’s being a square.”

Antecedent is sufficient for consequent

  • If someone is a mother then they’re female
  • If you know that someone is a mother that is enough to show that the person is female therefore being a mother is a sufficient condition on being female.
  • Being a mother is not a necessary condition on being female since you can be female without being a mother.

Consequent is necessary for antecedent

  • If someone is a mother then they’re female
  • Being female is necessary for being a mother: if someone is not female they can’t possibly be a mother.
  • Thus (1) says that being a mother is a sufficient condition on being female and being female is a necessary condition on being a mother.

Necessary conditions that are not sufficient: A Case of Walkman

  • Hearing from the “Walkman”
  • The Walkman is in good working order.
  • The batteries are good.
  • The earphones are plugged in.
  • The tape has music on it and is in good working condition.
  • You operate the controls correctly.
  • But not limited to.
  • The listener must not be deaf.
  • The ambient (surrounding) sound must not drown out the earphones.
  • The listener must be wearing the earphones, or must be close enough to them, to hear the music.
  • There must be nothing blocking the sound in the listener’s ears.
  • ……
  • …….
  • ………

The value of necessary causes

  • Provide a way of preventing something
    • Avoiding sex does prevent babies (and AIDs)
    • Eliminating oxygen does stop fires

Sufficient conditions that are not necessary

  • sufficient condition for travelling from Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • You could take Air; or
  • You could travel by car/bus/tourist bus/ general bus ; or
  • You could hike; or
  • You could ride a bicycle; or
  • You could travel on horseback; or
  • …,
  • Conclusion: Sometimes, it is easier to specify sufficient conditions than necessary ones.

Necessary & Sufficient

  • Something can serve as both necessary and sufficient
    • “You will get Malaria if and only if you are bitten by a mosquito carrying the germ.
    • Malaria  ≈ Mosquito (germ)
  • If you have Malaria you must have been bitten by the mosquito with the germ.

The difficulty with sufficient causes

  • For many conditions in which you think you have found a sufficient cause, an exception can be found such as
    • If you put salt in the water, it may not freeze even when temperature is less than 32o F

Communication leads to enlight you if and only if

  • The speaker is persuasive,
  • Only the speaker initially possesses the knowledge that the speaker needs, and
  • Common interests or external forces induce the speaker to reveal what he knows.

Contributory causes

  • Causes are often distinguished into two types: Necessary and sufficient. A third type of causation, which requires neither necessity nor sufficiency in and of itself, but which contributes to the effect, is called a “contributory cause.”
  • Partial and Contributory Causes


  • Causation is like an explosion.
  • Necessary causes are like dynamite, hydrogen—that is, the fuel.
  • Sufficient causes are like the match, implosion lenses—that is, the ignition device.
  • Ignition causes explosion—but only because the fuel is present.