Occasional cause

(Metaph.) some circumstance preceding an effect which, without being the real cause, becomes the occasion of the action of the efficient cause; thus, the act of touching gunpowder with fire is the occasional, but not the efficient, cause of an explosion.

See also: Occasional

References in periodicals archive ?
This double-CD compilation, charting the band's 40-year career, can't escape the fact that it's all downhill from album opener A Whiter Shade Of Pale, despite occasional cause for optimism.
enterocolitica has been an uncommonly reported pathogen, although in recent years it has emerged as an occasional cause of sporadic illness and foodborne disease outbreaks.
Moreover, Malebranche also maintains that finite agents may control their attention, which he takes to be the occasional cause of knowledge, and this claim, too, seems to be incompatible with occasionalism.
Nadler argues that Descartes introduced occasional causes only where 'efficient causation cannot intelligibly operate'--say, because of the mind-body dissimilarity--but argues that Descartes does not deny finite creatures any efficient casual power, as do the 'occasionalists' such as Malebranche (36).