Consider a typical case of causation. Lucy strikes a match to light her grill. It's a beautiful sunny day and there's not a hint of wind. Not surprisingly, the match ignites and she is able to start her grill. I take it that it is the striking of the match that causes it to light.
But there are (what some might call) background conditions that are required for the match to light, like the presence of oxygen and a lack of rain and gusty winds. If the match were wet, then it wouldn't light. And if it were too windy, it wouldn't light. So here's an interesting question: Do the background conditions (also) cause the match to light? This might sound odd. We don't say things like "The striking of the match and the presence of oxygen caused the match to light."
Various theories of causation seem to entail that we should say that these background conditions count as causes (See, for example, David Lewis's view in his essay "Causation" and J.L. Mackie's view in his book The Cement of the Universe, among others). Some folks take the above to be a direct challenge to such theories while others bite the proverbial bullet and simply insist that such background conditions are indeed causes. What do you think about this?
If you think the background conditions are not causes, how exactly do you distinguish between the two and explain why these background conditions aren't causes?
If you think they are causes, then how do you explain our practice of not treating them as such? Why are so many people tempted to say that there's a metaphysical difference between causes and mere background conditions? How do you show that this is a mistake?