Newcomb's problem and similar cases show the need to incorporate causal distinctions into the theory of rational decision; the usual noncausal decision theory, though simpler, does not always give the right answers. I give my own version of causal decision theory, compare it with versions offered by several other authors, and suggest that the versions have more in common than meets the eye.
Causality offers the first comprehensive coverage of causal analysis in many sciences, including recent advances using graphical methods. Pearl presents a unified account of the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual and structural approaches to causation, and devises simple mathematical tools for analyzing the relationships between causal connections, statistical associations, actions and observations. The book will open the way for including causal analysis in the standard curriculum of statistics, artificial intelligence, business, epidemiology, social science and economics.
Wesley Salmon is renowned for his seminal contributions to the philosophy of science. He has powerfully and permanently shaped discussion of such issues as lawlike and probabilistic explanation and the interrelation of explanatory notions to causal notions. This unique volume brings together twenty-six of his essays on subjects related to causality and explanation, written over the period 1971-1995. Six of the essays have never been published before and many others have only appeared in obscure venues. The volume includes a (...) section of accessible introductory pieces, as well as more advanced and technical pieces, and will make essential work in the philosophy of science readily available to both scholars and students. (shrink)
This book offers a discussion about how people think, talk, learn, and explain things in causal terms in terms of action and manipulation. Sloman also reviews the role of causality, causal models, and intervention in the basic human cognitive functions: decision making, reasoning, judgement, categorization, inductive inference, language, and learning.
Written by one of the preeminent researchers in the field, this book provides a comprehensive exposition of modern analysis of causation. It shows how causality has grown from a nebulous concept into a mathematical theory with significant applications in the fields of statistics, artificial intelligence, economics, philosophy, cognitive science, and the health and social sciences. Judea Pearl presents and unifies the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual, and structural approaches to causation and devises simple mathematical tools for studying the relationships between causal (...) connections and statistical associations. Cited in more than 2,100 scientific publications, it continues to liberate scientists from the traditional molds of statistical thinking. In this revised edition, Judea Pearl elucidates thorny issues, answers readers' questions, and offers a panoramic view of recent advances in this field of research. Causality will be of interest to students and professionals in a wide variety of fields. Dr Judea Pearl has received the 2011 Rumelhart Prize for his leading research in Artificial Intelligence and systems from The Cognitive Science Society. (shrink)
This monograph looks at causal nets from a philosophical point of view. The author shows that one can build a general philosophical theory of causation on the basis of the causal nets framework that can be fruitfully used to shed new light on philosophical issues. Coverage includes both a theoretical as well as application-oriented approach to the subject. The author first counters David Hume’s challenge about whether causation is something ontologically real. The idea behind this is that good metaphysical concepts (...) should behave analogously to good theoretical concepts in scientific theories. In the process, the author offers support for the theory of causal nets as indeed being a correct theory of causation. Next, the book offers an application-oriented approach to the subject. The author shows that causal nets can investigate philosophical issues related to causation. He does this by means of two exemplary applications. The first consists of an evaluation of Jim Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation. The second offers a contribution to the new mechanist debate. Introductory chapters outline all the formal basics required. This helps make the book useful for those who are not familiar with causal nets, but interested in causation or in tools for the investigation of philosophical issues related to causation. (shrink)
The physical realm is causally closed, according to physicalists like me. But why is it causally closed, what metaphysically explains causal closure? I argue that reductive physicalists are committed to one explanation of causal closure to the exclusion of any independent explanation, and that as a result, they must give up on using a causal argument to attack mind–body dualism. Reductive physicalists should view dualism in much the way that we view the hypothesis that unicorns exist, or that the Kansas (...) City Royals won the 2003 World Series: false, but not objectionable in any distinctively causal way. My argument turns on connections between explanation, counterfactuals, and inductive confirmation. (shrink)
When agents violate norms, they are typically judged to be more of a cause of resulting outcomes. In this paper, we suggest that norm violations also affect the causality attributed to other agents, a phenomenon we refer to as "causal superseding." We propose and test a counterfactual reasoning model of this phenomenon in four experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 provide an initial demonstration of the causal superseding effect and distinguish it from previously studied effects. Experiment 3 shows that this (...) causal superseding effect is dependent on a particular event structure, following a prediction of our counterfactual model. Experiment 4 demonstrates that causal superseding can occur with violations of non-moral norms. We propose a model of the superseding effect based on the idea of counterfactual sufficiency. (shrink)
The problem of the man who met death in Damascus appeared in the infancy of the theory of rational choice known as causal decision theory. A straightforward, unadorned version of causal decision theory is presented here and applied, along with Brian Skyrms’ deliberation dynamics, to Death in Damascus and similar problems. Decision instability is a fascinating topic, but not a source of difficulty for causal decision theory. Andy Egan’s purported counterexample to causal decision theory, Murder Lesion, is considered; a simple (...) response shows how Murder Lesion and similar examples fail to be counterexamples, and clarifies the use of the unadorned theory in problems of decision instability. I compare unadorned causal decision theory to previous treatments by Frank Arntzenius and by Jim Joyce, and recommend a well-founded heuristic that all three accounts can endorse. Whatever course deliberation takes, causal decision theory is consistently a good guide to rational action. (shrink)
According to orthodox causal decision theory, performing an action can give you information about factors outside of your control, but you should not take this information into account when deciding what to do. Causal decision theorists caution against an irrational policy of 'managing the news'. But, by providing information about factors outside of your control, performing an act can give you two, importantly different, kinds of good news. It can tell you that the world in which you find yourself is (...) good in ways you can't control, and it can also tell you that the act itself is in a position to make the world better. While the first kind of news does not speak in favor of performing an act, I believe that the second kind of news does. I present a revision of causal decision theory which advises you to manage the news about the good you stand to promote, while ignoring news about the good the world has provided for you. (shrink)
Recent attempts to resolve the Paradox of the Gatecrasher rest on a now familiar distinction between individual and bare statistical evidence. This paper investigates two such approaches, the causal approach to individual evidence and a recently influential (and award-winning) modal account that explicates individual evidence in terms of Nozick's notion of sensitivity. This paper offers counterexamples to both approaches, explicates a problem concerning necessary truths for the sensitivity account, and argues that either view is implausibly committed to the impossibility of (...) no-fault wrongful convictions. The paper finally concludes that the distinction between individual and bare statistical evidence cannot be maintained in terms of causation or sensitivity. We have to look elsewhere for a solution of the Paradox of the Gatecrasher. (shrink)
Causal models provide a framework for making counterfactual predictions, making them useful for evaluating the truth conditions of counterfactual sentences. However, current causal models for counterfactual semantics face limitations compared to the alternative similarity-based approach: they only apply to a limited subset of counterfactuals and the connection to counterfactual logic is not straightforward. This paper argues that these limitations arise from the theory of interventions where intervening on variables requires changing structural equations rather than the values of variables. Using an (...) alternative theory of exogenous interventions, this paper extends the causal approach to counterfactuals to handle more complex counterfactuals, including backtracking counterfactuals and those with logically complex antecedents. The theory also validates familiar principles of counterfactual logic and offers an explanation for counterfactual disagreement and backtracking readings of forward counterfactuals. (shrink)
Former discussions of biological generalizations have focused on the question of whether there are universal laws of biology. These discussions typically analyzed generalizations out of their investigative and explanatory contexts and concluded that whatever biological generalizations are, they are not universal laws. The aim of this paper is to explain what biological generalizations are by shifting attention towards the contexts in which they are drawn. I argue that within the context of any particular biological explanation or investigation, biologists employ two (...) types of generations. One type identifies causal regularities exhibited by particular kinds of biological entities. The other type identifies how these entities are distributed in the biological world. (shrink)
In this paper I reconstruct and evaluate the validity of two versions of causal exclusion arguments within the theory of causal Bayes nets. I argue that supervenience relations formally behave like causal relations. If this is correct, then it turns out that both versions of the exclusion argument are valid when assuming the causal Markov condition and the causal minimality condition. I also investigate some consequences for the recent discussion of causal exclusion arguments in the light of an interventionist theory (...) of causation such as Woodward's (2003) and discuss a possible objection to my causal Bayes net reconstruction. (shrink)
Causal accounts of scientific explanation are currently broadly accepted (though not universally so). My first task in this paper is to show that, even for a causal approach to explanation, significant features of explanatory practice are not determined by settling how causal facts bear on the phenomenon to be explained. I then develop a broadly causal approach to explanation that accounts for the additional features that I argue an explanation should have. This approach to explanation makes sense of several aspects (...) of actual explanatory practice, including the widespread use of equilibrium explanations, the formulation of distinct explanations for a single event, and the tight relationship between explanations of events and explanations of causal regularities. (shrink)
We start this paper by arguing that causality should, in analogy with force in Newtonian physics, be understood as a theoretical concept that is not explicated by a single definition, but by the axioms of a theory. Such an understanding of causality implicitly underlies the well-known theory of causal nets and has been explicitly promoted by Glymour. In this paper we investigate the explanatory warrant and empirical content of TCN. We sketch how the assumption of directed cause–effect relations (...) can be philosophically justified by an inference to the best explanation. We then ask whether the explanations provided by TCN are merely post-facto or have independently testable empirical content. To answer this question we develop a fine-grained axiomatization of TCN, including a distinction of different kinds of faithfulness. A number of theorems show that although the core axioms of TCN are empirically empty, extended versions of TCN have successively increasing empirical content. (shrink)
La autora presenta algunas criticas generales al proyecto de reducir las leyes causales a probabilidades. Además, muestra que las leyes causales son imprescindibles para poder diferenciar las strategias efectivas de las que no lo son y da un criterio para considerar cuando podemos deducir causalidad a través de datos estadísticos.
Causal claims are context sensitive. According to the old orthodoxy (Mackie 1974, Lewis 1986, inter alia), the context sensitivity of causal claims is all due to conversational pragmatics. According to the new contextualists (Hitchcock 1996, Woodward 2003, Maslen 2004, Menzies 2004, Schaffer 2005, and Hall ms), at least some of the context sensitivity of causal claims is semantic in nature. I want to discuss the prospects for causal contextualism, by asking why causal claims are context sensitive, what they are sensitive (...) to, and where they are sensitive to it. (shrink)
Judea Pearl has been at the forefront of research in the burgeoning field of causal modeling, and Causality is the culmination of his work over the last dozen or so years. For philosophers of science with a serious interest in causal modeling, Causality is simply mandatory reading. Chapter 2, in particular, addresses many of the issues familiar from works such as Causation, Prediction and Search by Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour, and Richard Scheines. But philosophers with a more general (...) interest in causation will also profit from reading Pearl’s book, especially the material in chapters 7, 9, and 10, which is self-contained and less technical than other parts of the book. The present review is aimed primarily at readers of the second type. (shrink)
Among the factors necessary for the occurrence of some event, which of these are selectively highlighted in its explanation and labeled as causes — and which are explanatorily omitted, or relegated to the status of background conditions? Following J. S. Mill, most have thought that only a pragmatic answer to this question was possible. In this paper I suggest we understand this ‘causal selection problem’ in causal-explanatory terms, and propose that explanatory trade-offs between abstraction and stability can provide a principled (...) solution to it. After sketching that solution, it is applied to a few biological examples, including to a debate concerning the ‘causal democracy’ of organismal development, with an anti-democratic (though not a gene-centric) moral. (shrink)
The problem of structure and agency has been the subject of intense debate in the social sciences for over 100 years. This book offers a solution. Using a critical realist version of the theory of emergence, Dave Elder-Vass argues that, instead of ascribing causal significance to an abstract notion of social structure or a monolithic concept of society, we must recognise that it is specific groups of people that have social structural power. Some of these groups are entities with emergent (...) causal powers, distinct from those of human individuals. Yet these powers also depend on the contributions of human individuals, and this book examines the mechanisms through which interactions between human individuals generate the causal powers of some types of social structures. The Causal Power of Social Structures makes particularly important contributions to the theory of human agency and to our understanding of normative institutions. (shrink)
Any property has two sorts of causal features: “forward-looking” ones, having to do with what its instantiation can contribute to causing, and ldquo;backward-looking” ones, having to do with how its instantiation can be caused. Such features of a property are essential to it, and properties sharing all of their causal features are identical. Causal necessity is thus a special case of metaphysical necessity. Appeals to imaginability have no more force against this view than they do against the Kripkean view that (...) statements like “Gold is an element” are metaphysically necessary. (shrink)
We argue that the health sciences make causal claims on the basis of evidence both of physical mechanisms, and of probabilistic dependencies. Consequently, an analysis of causality solely in terms of physical mechanisms or solely in terms of probabilistic relationships, does not do justice to the causal claims of these sciences. Yet there seems to be a single relation of cause in these sciences - pluralism about causality will not do either. Instead, we maintain, the health sciences require (...) a theory of causality that unifies its mechanistic and probabilistic aspects. We argue that the epistemic theory of causality provides the required unification. (shrink)
Scientific and philosophical literature on causality has become highly specialised. It is hard to find suitable access points for students, young researchers, or professionals outside this domain. This book provides a guide to the complex literature, explains the scientific problems of causality and the philosophical tools needed to address them.
Until recently, many philosophers took Causal Decision Theory to be more successful than its rival, Evidential Decision Theory. Things have changed, however, with a renewed concern that cases involving an extreme form of decision instability are counterexamples to CDT :392–403, 1984; Egan in Philos Rev 116:93–114, 2007). Most prominent among those cases of extreme decision instability is the Psychopath Button, due to Andy Egan; in that case, CDT recommends a seemingly absurd act that almost certainly results in your death. This (...) renewed attention to decision instability has spurned an array of modifications to and rejections of CDT. I argue, however, that the Psychopath Button and its ilk are no counterexamples to CDT. That is, given the causalist’s commitments in Newcomb Problems, they already have the tools to justify CDT’s verdict in Egan-style cases of extreme decision instability. I first argue that there is no reason to think the Psychopath Button is a counterexample to CDT; in particular, many philosophers have placed too much weight on pre-theoretic intuition in Egan-cases, and apart from pre-theoretic intuition, arguments against CDT in cases of extreme decision instability are flawed. My second claim is that the causalist can provide good reasons for following CDT in cases of extreme decision instability. I present a new case, the Two Button Defense, that highlights precisely why the causalist can reasonably follow CDT in even the Psychopath Button. CDT therefore stands as a viable decision theory, without need for modification, restriction, or rejection. (shrink)
A new approach for defining causality and such related notions as degree of responsibility, degrees of blame, and causal explanation. Causality plays a central role in the way people structure the world; we constantly seek causal explanations for our observations. But what does it even mean that an event C "actually caused" event E? The problem of defining actual causation goes beyond mere philosophical speculation. For example, in many legal arguments, it is precisely what needs to be established (...) in order to determine responsibility. The philosophy literature has been struggling with the problem of defining causality since Hume. In this book, Joseph Halpern explores actual causality, and such related notions as degree of responsibility, degree of blame, and causal explanation. The goal is to arrive at a definition of causality that matches our natural language usage and is helpful, for example, to a jury deciding a legal case, a programmer looking for the line of code that cause some software to fail, or an economist trying to determine whether austerity caused a subsequent depression. Halpern applies and expands an approach to causality that he and Judea Pearl developed, based on structural equations. He carefully formulates a definition of causality, and building on this, defines degree of responsibility, degree of blame, and causal explanation. He concludes by discussing how these ideas can be applied to such practical problems as accountability and program verification. Technical details are generally confined to the final section of each chapter and can be skipped by non-mathematical readers. (shrink)
This paper sketches a causal account of scientific explanation designed to sustain the judgment that high-level, detail-sparse explanations—particularly those offered in biology—can be at least as explanatorily valuable as lower-level counterparts. The motivating idea is that complete explanations maximize causal economy: they cite those aspects of an event’s causal run-up that offer the biggest-bang-for-your-buck, by costing less (in virtue of being abstract) and delivering more (in virtue making the event stable or robust).
Much has been written on the role of causal notions and causal reasoning in the so-called 'special sciences' and in common sense. But does causal reasoning also play a role in physics? Mathias Frisch argues that, contrary to what influential philosophical arguments purport to show, the answer is yes. Time-asymmetric causal structures are as integral a part of the representational toolkit of physics as a theory's dynamical equations. Frisch develops his argument partly through a critique of anti-causal arguments and partly (...) through a detailed examination of actual examples of causal notions in physics, including causal principles invoked in linear response theory and in representations of radiation phenomena. Offering a new perspective on the nature of scientific theories and causal reasoning, this book will be of interest to professional philosophers, graduate students, and anyone interested in the role of causal thinking in science. (shrink)
In what follows, I shall presuppose the ecumenical core of the causal powers metaphysics. The argument of this paper concerns what may appear at first to be a wholly unrelated matter, the metaphysics of free will. However, an adequate account of freedom requires, in my judgment, a notion of a distinctive variety of causal power, one which tradition dubs ‘agent-causal power’. I will first develop this notion and clarify its relationship to other notions. I will then respond to a number (...) of objections either to the possibility of a power so explicated or to its sufficiency for grounding an adequate account of human freedom. (shrink)
The two major modern accounts of explanation are the causal and unification accounts. My aim in this paper is to provide a kind of unification of the causal and the unification accounts, by using the central technical apparatus of the unification account to solve a central problem faced by the causal account, namely, the problem of determining which parts of a causal network are explanatorily relevant to the occurrence of an explanandum. The end product of my investigation is a causal (...) account of explanation that has many of the advantages of the unification account. (shrink)
Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...) are framed by an interventionist causal framework, it is clearer what the H. pylori explanation achieves and where its explanatory strengths lie. After assessing this ‘simple’, single-microbe case, we apply the interventionist framework to two key areas of microbiome research, in which obesity and mental health states are purportedly explained by microbiomes. Despite the experimental data available, interventionist criteria for explanation show that many of the causal claims generated by microbiome research are weak or misleading. We focus on the stability, specificity and proportionality of proposed microbiome causal explanations, and evaluate how effectively these dimensions of causal explanation are achieved in some promising avenues of research. We suggest some conceptual and explanatory strategies to improve how causal claims about microbiomes are made. (shrink)
Understanding causal structure is a central task of human cognition. Causal learning underpins the development of our concepts and categories, our intuitive theories, and our capacities for planning, imagination and inference. During the last few years, there has been an interdisciplinary revolution in our understanding of learning and reasoning: Researchers in philosophy, psychology, and computation have discovered new mechanisms for learning the causal structure of the world. This new work provides a rigorous, formal basis for theory theories of concepts and (...) cognitive development, and moreover, the causal learning mechanisms it has uncovered go dramatically beyond the traditional mechanisms of both nativist theories, such as modularity theories, and empiricist ones, such as association or connectionism. (shrink)
The anti-causal prophecies of last century have been disproved. Causality is neither a ‘relic of a bygone’ nor ‘another fetish of modern science’; it still occupies a large part of the current debate in philosophy and the sciences. This investigation into causal modelling presents the rationale of causality, i.e. the notion that guides causal reasoning in causal modelling. It is argued that causal models are regimented by a rationale of variation, nor of regularity neither invariance, thus breaking down (...) the dominant Human paradigm. The notion of variation is shown to be embedded in the scheme of reasoning behind various causal models: e.g. Rubin’s model, contingency tables, and multilevel analysis. It is also shown to be latent – yet fundamental – in many philosophical accounts. Moreover, it has significant consequences for methodological issues: the warranty of the causal interpretation of causal models, the levels of causation, the characterisation of mechanisms, and the interpretation of probability. This book offers a novel philosophical and methodological approach to causal reasoning in causal modelling and provides the reader with the tools to be up to date about various issues causality rises in social science. (shrink)
We investigated the understanding of causal systems categories—categories defined by common causal structure rather than by common domain content—among college students. We asked students who were either novices or experts in the physical sciences to sort descriptions of real-world phenomena that varied in their causal structure (e.g., negative feedback vs. causal chain) and in their content domain (e.g., economics vs. biology). Our hypothesis was that there would be a shift from domain-based sorting to causal sorting with increasing expertise in the (...) relevant domains. This prediction was borne out: The novice groups sorted primarily by domain and the expert group sorted by causal category. These results suggest that science training facilitates insight about causal structures. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind have long been interested in the relation between two ideas: that causality plays an essential role in our understanding of the mental; and that we can gain an understanding of belief and desire by considering the ascription of attitudes to people on the basis of what they say and do. Many have thought that those ideas are incompatible. William Child argues that there is in fact no tension between them, and that we should accept both. He (...) shows how we can have a causal understanding of the mental without having to see attitudes and experiences as internal, causally interacting entities and he defends this view against influential objections. The book offers detailed discussions of many of Donald Davidson's contributions to the philosophy of mind, and also considers the work of Dennett, Anscombe, McDowell, and Rorty, among others. Issues discussed include: the nature of intentional phenomena; causal explanation; the character of visual experience; psychological explanation; and the causal relevance of mental properties. (shrink)
Causal closure arguments against interactionist dualism are currently popular amongst physicalists. Such an argument appeals to some principles of the causal closure of the physical, together with certain other premises, to conclude that at least some mental events are identical with physical events. However, it is crucial to the success of any such argument that the physical causal closure principle to which it appeals is neither too strong nor too weak by certain standards. In this paper, it is argued that (...) various forms of naturalistic dualism, of an emergentist character, are consistent with the strongest physical causal closure principles that can plausibly be advocated. (shrink)
In this important book, Ellery Eells explores and refines philosophical conceptions of probabilistic causality. In a probabilistic theory of causation, causes increase the probability of their effects rather than necessitate their effects in the ways traditional deterministic theories have specified. Philosophical interest in this subject arises from attempts to understand population sciences as well as indeterminism in physics. Taking into account issues involving spurious correlation, probabilistic causal interaction, disjunctive causal factors, and temporal ideas, Professor Eells advances the analysis of (...) what it is for one factor to be a positive causal factor for another. A salient feature of the book is a theory of token level probabilistic causation in which the evolution of the probability of a later event from an earlier event is central. This will be a book of crucial significance to philosophers of science and metaphysicians; it will also prove stimulating to many economists, psychologists, and physicists. (shrink)
Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s freely bringing about a choice is reducible to states and events involving him bringing about the choice. Agent-causal libertarians demur, arguing that free will requires that the agent be irreducibly causally involved. Derk Pereboom and Meghan Griffith have defended agent-causal libertarianism on this score, arguing that since on event-causal libertarianism an agent’s contribution to his choice is exhausted by the causal role of states and events involving him, and since these states and events leave (...) it open which decision he will make, he does not settle which decision occurs, and thus “disappears.” My aim is to explain why this argument fails. In particular, I demonstrate that event-causal libertarians can dismantle the argument by enriching the reductive base in their analysis of free will to include a state that plays the functional role of the self-determining agent and with which the agent is identified. (shrink)
We report three experiments investigating whether people’s judgments about causal relationships are sensitive to the robustness or stability of such relationships across a range of background circumstances. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that people are more willing to endorse causal and explanatory claims based on stable (as opposed to unstable) relationships, even when the overall causal strength of the relationship is held constant. In Experiment 2, we show that this effect is not driven by a causal generalization’s actual scope of (...) application. In Experiment 3, we offer evidence that stable causal relationships may be seen as better guides to action. Collectively, these experiments document a previously underappreciated factor that shapes people’s causal reasoning: the stability of the causal relationship. (shrink)
One familiar affirmative answer to this question holds that these facts suffice to entail that Descartes' picture of the human mind must be mistaken. On Descartes' view, our mind or soul (the only essential part of ourselves) has no spatial location. Yet it directly interacts with but one physical object, the brain of that body with which it is, 'as it were, intermingled,' so as to 'form one unit.' The radical disparity posited between a nonspatial mind, whose intentional and conscious (...) properties are had by no physical object, and a spatial body, all of whose properties are had by no mind, has prompted some to conclude that, pace Descartes, causal interaction between the two is impossible. Jaegwon Kim has recently given a new twist to this old line of thought.(1) In the present essay, I will use Kim's argument as a springboard for motivating my own favored picture of the metaphysics of mind and body and then discussing how an often vilified account of freedom of the will may be realized within it. (shrink)
I discuss an important feature of the notion of cause in Post. An. 1. 13, 78b13–28, which has been either neglected or misunderstood. Some have treated it as if Aristotle were introducing a false principle about explanation; others have understood the point in terms of coextensiveness of cause and effect. However, none offers a full exegesis of Aristotle's tangled argument or accounts for all of the text's peculiarities. My aim is to disentangle Aristotle's steps to show that he is arguing (...) in favour of a logical requirement for a middle term's being the appropriate cause of its explanandum. Coextensiveness between the middle term and the attribute it explains is advanced as a sine qua non condition of a middle term's being an appropriate or primary cause. This condition is not restricted either to negative causes or to middle terms in second‐figure syllogisms, but ranges over all primary causes qua primary. (shrink)
Dualism holds that some mental events are fundamental and non-physical. I develop a prima facie plausible causal argument for dualism. The argument has several significant implications. First, it constitutes a new way of arguing for dualism. Second, it provides dualists with a parity response to causal arguments for physicalism. Third, it transforms the dialectical role of epiphenomenalism. Fourth, it refutes the view that causal considerations prima facie support physicalism but not dualism. After developing the causal argument for dualism and drawing (...) out these implications, I subject the argument to a battery of objections. Some prompt revisions to the argument. Others reveal limitations in scope. It falls out of the discussion that the causal argument for dualism is best used against physicalism as a keystone in a divide and conquer strategy. (shrink)
„Errors are the greatest obstacles to the progress of science; to correct such errors is of more practical value than to achieve new knowledge,“ asserted Eugen Bleuler. Basic error of several prevailing classification schemes of pathological conditions, as for example ICD-10, lies in confusing and mixing symptoms with diseases, what makes them unscientific. Considering the need to bring order into the chaos and light into terminological obscureness, I introduce the Causal classification of diseases originating from the notion of bodily wholeness (...) and causality of its loss. (shrink)
It has long been known that people’s causal judgments can have an impact on their moral judgments. To take a simple example, if people conclude that a behavior caused the death of ten innocent children, they will therefore be inclined to regard the behavior itself as morally wrong. So far, none of this should come as any surprise. But recent experimental work points to the existence of a second, and more surprising, aspect of the relationship between causal judgment and moral (...) judgment. It appears that the relationship can sometimes go in the opposite direction. That is, it appears that our moral judgments can sometimes impact our causal judgments. (Hence, we might first determine that a behavior is morally wrong and then, on that basis, arrive at the conclusion that it was the cause of various outcomes.). (shrink)
This book, by one of the pre-eminent philosophers of science writing today, offers the most comprehensive account available of causal asymmetries. Causation is asymmetrical in many different ways. Causes precede effects; explanations cite causes not effects. Agents use causes to manipulate their effects; they don't use effects to manipulate their causes. Effects of a common cause are correlated; causes of a common effect are not. This book explains why a relationship that is asymmetrical in one of these regards is asymmetrical (...) in the others. Hausman discovers surprising hidden connections between theories of causation and traces them all to an asymmetry of independence. This is a major book for philosophers of science that will also prove insightful to economists and statisticians. (shrink)
Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...) concerned with the attempt of confronting the challenge coming from the Causal Parity Thesis by offering principles of causal selection that are spelled out in terms of an explicit philosophical account of causation, namely an interventionist account. I show that two such accounts that have been developed, although they contain important insights about causation in biology, nonetheless fail to provide an adequate reply to the Causal Parity challenge: Ken Waters's account of actual-difference making and Jim Woodward's account of causal specificity. A combination of the two also doesn't do the trick, nor does Laura Franklin-Hall's account of explanation (in this volume). We need additional conceptual resources. I argue that the resources we need consist in a special class of counterfactual conditionals, namely counterfactuals the antecedents of which describe biologically normal interventions. (shrink)