Woodward's long awaited book is an attempt to construct a comprehensive account of causation explanation that applies to a wide variety of causal and explanatory claims in different areas of science and everyday life. The book engages some of the relevant literature from other disciplines, as Woodward weaves together examples, counterexamples, criticisms, defences, objections, and replies into a convincing defence of the core of his theory, which is that we can analyse causation by appeal to the notion of manipulation.
I develop an account of counterfactual conditionals using “causal models”, and argue that this account is preferable to the currently standard account in terms of “similarity of possible worlds” due to David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. I diagnose the attraction of counterfactual theories of causation, and argue that it is illusory.
This paper has two main aims. The first is to present a general approach for understanding “dispositional” and “categorical” properties; the second aim is to use this approach to criticize Russellian Monism. On the approach I suggest, what are usually thought of as “dispositional” and “categorical” properties are really just the extreme ends of a spectrum of options. The approach allows for a number of options between these extremes, and it is plausible, I suggest, that just about everything of scientific (...) interest falls in this middle ground. I argue that Russellian Monism depends for its plausibility on the unarticulated assumption that there are no properties in the middle ground. (shrink)
Nancy Cartwright offers an account of causal powers, and argues that it explains some important general features of scientific method. Patricia Cheng argues that this theory is superior as a psychological theory of learning to standard models of conditioning. I extend and develop the theory, and argue that it provides the best explanation of a number of problem cases for philosophical theories of causation, including preemption, overdetermination and puzzles about transitivity. Hitchcock and Halpern & Pearl on ‘actual causes’ Problems and (...) morals 2.1 Puzzles about prevention 2.2 Counterfactuals Causal powers 3.1 Generative causal power 3.2 Preventative causal power Net and component powers ‘Actual’ or ‘successful’ causes Solutions to puzzle cases Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper investigates whether there is an acceptable version of Functionalism that avoids commitment to second-order properties. I argue that the answer is "no". I consider two reductionist versions of Functionalism, and argue that both are compatible with multiple realization as such. There is a more specific type of multiple realization that poses difficulties for these views, however. The only apparent Functionalist solution is to accept second-order properties.
This paper concerns reductionist views about psychology and the special sciences more generally. I identify a metaphysical assumption in reductionist views which I dub the 'Micro-Macro Mirroring Thesis'. The Mirroring Thesis says that the relation between the entities of any legitimate higher-level science and their lowerlevel realizers is similar to that between the entities of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. I argue that reductionism implies the Thesis, and that the Thesis is not a priori. It is more difficult to tell whether (...) the Thesis is true, and I indicate some relevant considerations. (shrink)
This paper concerns reductionist views about psychology and the special sciences more generally. I identify a metaphysical assumption in reductionist views which I dub the ‘Micro–Macro Mirroring Thesis’. The Mirroring Thesis says that the relation between the entities of any legitimate higher-level science and their lower-level realizers is similar to that between the entities of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. I argue that reductionism implies the Thesis, and that the Thesis is not a priori. It is more difficult to tell whether (...) the Thesis is true, and I indicate some relevant considerations. (shrink)
I argue against counterfactual theories of causation , develop a pragmatic version of the Covering Law view, and offer a causal theory of counterfactuals. ;The initial idea of CTCs is that event a causes event b if b would not have occurred, if a had not occurred. David Lewis proposes this view as a solution to problems of "effects" and "epiphenomena". I argue that CTCs cannot solve these problems. Covering Law theories can, but only by rejecting traditional Humean accounts of (...) laws. ;Following Nancy Cartwright , I argue that there is no a priori route from probabilistic association to causal relevance, and that distinguishing causal relevance from mere association requires further causal knowledge. Some recent literature on causal modelling is also examined. ;Much causal knowledge concerns rough, approximate ceteris paribus laws and generalizations. I examine these and argue that they involve important pragmatic components. ;Many aspects of intuitive causal judgment and reasoning are explained by ceteris paribus causes. For example, many causes are preventable, and only ceteris paribus causes could be prevented. Ceteris paribus causes are capacities, which make similar contributions to different circumstances, and interact with each other . The pragmatic features of ceteris paribus laws hold equally of ceteris paribus causes. ;Singular and generic causes are unified by appeal to the a posteriori impossibility of "action at a distance". The locality of causal relations requires that causes act by continuous intervening processes. Singular causes and effects are instances of generic causal process types. ;Numerous cases of unclear and conflicting intuitions about causes and effects are explained by contextual factors . ;I explain away the attraction of CTCs by offering a causal account of counterfactuals. It is natural to express causal facts using counterfactuals because the truth conditions of counterfactuals are direct consequences of causal facts. (shrink)