Causal Inference from Noise

Noûs 55 (1):152-170 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


"Correlation is not causation" is one of the mantras of the sciences—a cautionary warning especially to fields like epidemiology and pharmacology where the seduction of compelling correlations naturally leads to causal hypotheses. The standard view from the epistemology of causation is that to tell whether one correlated variable is causing the other, one needs to intervene on the system—the best sort of intervention being a trial that is both randomized and controlled. In this paper, we argue that some purely correlational data contains information that allows us to draw causal inferences: statistical noise. Methods for extracting causal knowledge from noise provide us with an alternative to randomized controlled trials that allows us to reach causal conclusions from purely correlational data.

Similar books and articles

Causality in complex interventions.Dean Rickles - 2009 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 12 (1):77-90.
Correlational Data, Causal Hypotheses, and Validity.Federica Russo - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):85 - 107.
Causation and corresponding correlations.W. V. Chambers - 2000 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 21 (4):437-460.
What Theories Are Tested in Clinical Trials?Spencer Phillips Hey - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1318-1329.
Statistics‐based research – a pig in a poke?James Penston - 2011 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 17 (5):862-867.
What are randomised controlled trials good for?Nancy Cartwright - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):59 - 70.


Added to PP

542 (#35,701)

6 months
185 (#17,319)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Nevin Climenhaga
Australian Catholic University
Lane DesAutels
Missouri Western State University

Citations of this work

Evidence and Inductive Inference.Nevin Climenhaga - 2024 - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 435-449.
Cognitive Variation: The Philosophical Landscape.Zina B. Ward - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (10):e12882.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):201-202.
Probability Theory. The Logic of Science.Edwin T. Jaynes - 2002 - Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Edited by G. Larry Bretthorst.

View all 14 references / Add more references