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  1. Antireductionist Interventionism.Reuben Stern & Benjamin Eva - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Kim’s causal exclusion argument purports to demonstrate that the non-reductive physicalist must treat mental properties (and macro-level properties in general) as causally inert. A number of authors have attempted to resist Kim’s conclusion by utilizing the conceptual resources of Woodward’s (2005) interventionist conception of causation. The viability of these responses has been challenged by Gebharter (2017a), who argues that the causal exclusion argument is vindicated by the theory of causal Bayesian networks (CBNs). Since the interventionist conception of causation relies crucially (...)
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  2. Binding Specificity and Causal Selection in Drug Design.Oliver M. Lean - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (1):70-90.
    Binding specificity is a centrally important concept in molecular biology, yet it has received little philosophical attention. Here I aim to remedy this by analyzing binding specificity as a causal property. I focus on the concept’s role in drug design, where it is highly prized and hence directly studied. From a causal perspective, understanding why binding specificity is a valuable property of drugs contributes to an understanding of causal selection—of how and why scientists distinguish between causes, not just causes from (...)
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  3. Reducing Uncertainty: Understanding the Information-Theoretic Origins of Consciousness.Garrett Mindt - 2020 - Dissertation, Central European University
    Ever since the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1996, 1995) first entered the scene in the debate over consciousness many have taken it to show the limitations of a scientific or naturalist explanation of consciousness. The hard problem is the problem of explaining why there is any experience associated with certain physical processes, that is, why there is anything it is like associated with such physical processes? The character of one’s experience doesn’t seem to be entailed by physical processes and (...)
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  4. COVID-19 and Control: An Essay From a Pragmatic Perspective on Science.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2020 - Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how different (even conflicting) interventions on nature can be scientifically justified: interventions can be deemed "effective" only in relation to specific target variables - in relation to variables the values of which we seek to control. Choosing the "right" target variables, in turn, depends on our values and pragmatic aims. This essay is based on a presentation given at the symposium "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic", organised at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies on (...)
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  5. Taking Control : The Role of Manipulation in Theories of Causation.Henning Strandin - 2019 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    Causation has always been a philosophically controversial subject matter. While David Hume’s empiricist account of causation has been the dominant influence in analytic philosophy and science during modern times, a minority view has instead connected causation essentially to agency and manipulation. A related approach has for the first time gained widespread popularity in recent years, due to new powerful theories of causal inference in science that are based in a technical notion of intervention, and James Woodward’s closely connected interventionist theory (...)
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  6. Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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  7. Patterns, Information, and Causation.Holly Andersen - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (11):592-622.
    This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree (...)
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  8. Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge.Robert Kowalenko - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):261-283.
    According to manipulationist accounts of causal explanation, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by intervening on its cause. The relevant change must be a ‘serious possibility’ claims Woodward 2003, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility—approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. This idea creates significant difficulties: background knowledge is necessary for judgments of possibili-ty. Yet the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism are ‘invariant’ generali-sations, and these are not well adapted to encoding such knowledge, (...)
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  9. Causality, Human Action and Experimentation: Von Wright's Approach to Causation in Contemporary Perspective.Elena Popa - 2017 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 93:355-373.
    This paper discusses von Wright's theory of causation from Explanation and Understanding and Causality and Determinism in contemporary context. I argue that there are two important common points that von Wright's view shares with the version of manipulability currently supported by Woodward: the analysis of causal relations in a system modelled on controlled experiments, and the explanation of manipulability through counterfactuals - with focus on the counterfactual account of unmanipulable causes. These points also mark von Wright's departure from previous action-based (...)
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  10. Causation, Intervention and Agency—Woodward on Menzies and Price.Huw Price - 2017 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford, UK: pp. 73-98.
    In his influential book 'Making Things Happen' and in other places, Jim Woodward has noted some affinities between his own account of causation and that of Menzies and Price, but argued that the latter view is implausibly ‘subjective’. In this piece I discuss Woodward’s criticisms. I argue that the Menzies and Price view is not as different from Woodward’s own account as he believes, and that in so far as it is different, it has some advantages whose importance Woodward misses; (...)
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  11. High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as presently (...)
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  12. An Internal Limit of the Structural Analysis of Causation.Alessandro Giordani - 2016 - Axiomathes 26 (4):429-450.
    Structural models of systems of causal connections have become a common tool in the analysis of the concept of causation. In the present paper I offer a general argument to show that one of the most powerful definitions of the concept of actual cause, provided within the structural models framework, is not sufficient to grant a full account of our intuitive judgements about actual causation, so that we are still waiting for a comprehensive definition. This is done not simply by (...)
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  13. Collingwood and Manipulability-Based Approaches to Causation: Methodological Issues.E. Popa - 2016 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 22 (1):139-166.
    This paper discusses methodological similarities between Collingwood's approach to causation and contemporary manipulability-based views. Firstly, I argue that on both approaches there is a preoccupation with the origin of causal concepts which further connects to the aim of establishing the priority of a certain concept/sense of causation as more fundamental. The significant difference lies in Collingwood's focus on the logical and historical priority (Collingwood's sense I) while in more recent theories the focus has been on psychology (i.e., on different philosophical (...)
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  14. Causal Projectivism, Agency, and Objectivity.Elena Popa - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):147-163.
    This article examines how specific realist and projectivist versions of manipulability theories of causation deal with the problem of objectivity. Does an agent-dependent concept of manipulability imply that conflicting causal claims made by agents with different capacities can come out as true? In defence of the projectivist stance taken by the agency view, I argue that if the agent’s perspective is shown to be uniform across different agents, then the truth-values of causal claims do not vary arbitrarily and, thus, reach (...)
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  15. The Agency Theory of Causality, Anthropomorphism, and Simultaneity.Marco Buzzoni - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (4):375-395.
    The purpose of this article is to examine two important issues concerning the agency theory of causality: the charge of anthropomorphism and the relation of simultaneous causation. After a brief outline of the agency theory, sections 2–4 contain the refutation of the three main forms in which the charge of anthropomorphism is to be found in the literature. It will appear that it is necessary to distinguish between the subjective and the objective aspect of the concept of causation. This will (...)
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  16. Systems Without a Graphical Causal Representation.Daniel M. Hausman, Reuben Stern & Naftali Weinberger - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1925-1930.
    There are simple mechanical systems that elude causal representation. We describe one that cannot be represented in a single directed acyclic graph. Our case suggests limitations on the use of causal graphs for causal inference and makes salient the point that causal relations among variables depend upon details of causal setups, including values of variables.
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  17. How Norms Make Causes.Maria Kronfeldner - 2014 - International Journal of Epidemiology 43:1707–1713.
    This paper is on the problem of causal selection and comments on Collingwood's classic paper "The so-called idea of causation". It discusses the relevance of Collingwood’s control principle in contemporary life sciences and defends that it is not the ability to control, but the willingness to control that often biases us towards some rather than other causes of a phenomenon. Willingness to control is certainly only one principle that influences causal selection, but it is an important one. It shows how (...)
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  18. Causation.Douglas Kutach - 2014 - Polity.
    In most academic and non-academic circles throughout history, the world and its operation have been viewed in terms of cause and effect. The principles of causation have been applied, fruitfully, across the sciences, law, medicine, and in everyday life, despite the lack of any agreed-upon framework for understanding what causation ultimately amounts to. In this engaging and accessible introduction to the topic, Douglas Kutach explains and analyses the most prominent theories and examples in the philosophy of causation. The book is (...)
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  19. Introduction to Special Issue on 'Actual Causation'.Michael Baumgartner & Luke Glynn - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):1-8.
    An actual cause of some token effect is itself a token event that helped to bring about that effect. The notion of an actual cause is different from that of a potential cause – for example a pre-empted backup – which had the capacity to bring about the effect, but which wasn't in fact operative on the occasion in question. Sometimes actual causes are also distinguished from mere background conditions: as when we judge that the struck match was a cause (...)
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  20. Absences and Late Preemption.Oisín Deery - 2013 - Theoria 79 (1):309-325.
    I focus on token, deterministic causal claims as they feature in causal explanations. Adequately handling absences is difficult for most causal theories, including theories of causal explanation. Yet so is adequately handling cases of late preemption. The best account of absence-causal claims as they appear in causal explanations is Jonathan Schaffer's quaternary, contrastive account. Yet Schaffer's account cannot handle preemption. The account that best handles late preemption is James Woodward's interventionist account. Yet Woodward's account is inadequate when it comes to (...)
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  21. Of Miracles and Interventions.Luke Glynn - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):43-64.
    In Making Things Happen, James Woodward influentially combines a causal modeling analysis of actual causation with an interventionist semantics for the counterfactuals encoded in causal models. This leads to circularities, since interventions are defined in terms of both actual causation and interventionist counterfactuals. Circularity can be avoided by instead combining a causal modeling analysis with a semantics along the lines of that given by David Lewis, on which counterfactuals are to be evaluated with respect to worlds in which their antecedents (...)
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  22. Jaspers on Explaining and Understanding in Psychiatry.Christoph Hoerl - 2013 - In Thomas Fuchs & Giovanni Stanghellini (eds.), One Hundred Years of Karl Jaspers' General Psychopathology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 107-120.
    This chapter offers an interpretation of Jaspers’ distinction between explaining and understanding, which relates this distinction to that between general and singular causal claims. Put briefly, I suggest that when Jaspers talks about (mere) explanation, what he has in mind are general causal claims linking types of events. Understanding, by contrast, is concerned with singular causation in the psychological domain. Furthermore, I also suggest that Jaspers thinks that only understanding makes manifest what causation between one element of a person’s mental (...)
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  23. Can Interventionists Be Neo-Russellians? Interventionism, the Open Systems Argument, and the Arrow of Entropy.Alexander Reutlinger - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (3):273-293.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 27, Issue 3, Page 273-293, September 2013.
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  24. On Classifying Material Entities in Basic Formal Ontology.Barry Smith - 2012 - In Interdisciplinary Ontology: Proceedings of the Third Interdisciplinary Ontology Meeting. Keio University Press. pp. 1-13.
    Basic Formal Ontology was created in 2002 as an upper-level ontology to support the creation of consistent lower-level ontologies, initially in the subdomains of biomedical research, now also in other areas, including defense and security. BFO is currently undergoing revisions in preparation for the release of BFO version 2.0. We summarize some of the proposed revisions in what follows, focusing on BFO’s treatment of material entities, and specifically of the category object.
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  25. Defending the Piggyback Principle Against Shapiro and Sober’s Empirical Approach.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2010 - Synthese 175 (2):151-168.
    Jaegwon Kim’s supervenience/exclusion argument attempts to show that non-reductive physicalism is incompatible with mental causation. This influential argument can be seen as relying on the following principle, which I call “the piggyback principle”: If, with respect to an effect, E, an instance of a supervenient property, A, has no causal powers over and above, or in addition to, those had by its supervenience base, B, then the instance of A does not cause E (unless A is identical with B). In (...)
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  26. Causal and Explanatory Autonomy: Comments on Menzies and List.Ausonio Marras & Juhani Yli-Vakkuri - 2010 - In Graham Macdonald & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 129.
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  27. Cause and Norm.Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.
    Much of the philosophical literature on causation has focused on the concept of actual causation, sometimes called token causation. In particular, it is this notion of actual causation that many philosophical theories of causation have attempted to capture.2 In this paper, we address the question: what purpose does this concept serve? As we shall see in the next section, one does not need this concept for purposes of prediction or rational deliberation. What then could the purpose be? We will argue (...)
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  28. Where’s the Biff?Toby Handfield, Charles R. Twardy, Kevin B. Korb & Graham Oppy - 2008 - Erkenntnis 68 (2):149-68.
    This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other cases (...)
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  29. How Effects Depend on Their Causes, Why Causal Transitivity Fails, and Why We Care About Causation.Gunnar Björnsson - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (3):349-390.
    Despite recent efforts to improve on counterfactual theories of causation, failures to explain how effects depend on their causes are still manifest in a variety of cases. In particular, theories that do a decent job explaining cases of causal preemption have problems accounting for cases of causal intransitivity. Moreover, the increasing complexity of the counterfactual accounts makes it difficult to see why the concept of causation would be such a central part of our cognition. In this paper, I propose an (...)
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  30. Making Something Happen. Where Causation and Agency Meet.Geert Keil - 2007 - In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis. pp. 19-35.
    1. Introduction: a look back at the reasons vs. causes debate. 2. The interventionist account of causation. 3. Four objections to interventionism. 4. The counterfactual analysis of event causation. 5. The role of free agency. 6. Causality in the human sciences. -- The reasons vs. causes debate reached its peak about 40 years ago. Hempel and Dray had debated the nature of historical explanation and the broader issue of whether explanations that cite an agent’s reasons are causal or not. Melden, (...)
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  31. La cause d'un événement éléments d'une métaphysique descriptive de la causalité entre événements.Geert Keil & Max Kistler - 2006 - Philosophie 89 (2):21.
    La philosophie contemporaine connaît une demi-douzaine de théories de la causalité. À l'époque de Kant et de Hume leur nombre a été moindre, à l'avenir on peut s'attendre à ce que leur nombre continue d'augmenter. Parmi les affirmations faites par ces théories sur la nature de la causalité, certaines sont compatibles entre elles, mais beaucoup ne le sont pas. Par conséquent, ou bien quelques-unes de ces théories sont fausses, ou bien elles ne portent pas sur le même objet. Dans ce (...)
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  32. Handeln und Verursachen.Geert Keil - 2000 - Klostermann.
    Wenn wir handeln, greifen wir in den Lauf der Welt ein und führen Veränderungen herbei, von denen wir zu Recht denken, daß sie nicht eingetreten wären, hätten wir nicht eingegriffen. Durch menschliche Eingriffe herbeigeführte Veränderungen machen aber nur einen kleinen Teil dessen aus, was in der Welt geschieht. Der größere Teil geschieht ohne unser Zutun. Beide Arten von Geschehnissen werden sowohl alltagssprachlich wie philosophisch in kausalem Vokabular beschrieben. Handelnde werden als kausale Urheber eines Geschehens verstanden; zugleich sind die mit Handlungen (...)
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  33. The Manipulability Account of Causation Applied to Physical Systems.Louis Vervoort - 2014
    In the following we will apply the manipulability theory of causation of Woodward 2003 to physical systems, and show that, in the latter context, the theory can be simplified. Elaborating on an argument by Cartwright, we will argue that the notions of ‘modularity’ and ‘intervention’ of the cited work should be adapted for typical physical systems, in order to take coupling of system equations into account. We will show that this allows to reduce all cause types discussed in Woodward 2003 (...)
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  34. Mental Causation, Interventions, and Contrasts (2006).Panu Raatikainen -
    The problem of mental causation is discussed by taking into account some recent developments in the philosophy of science. The problem is viewed from the perspective of the new interventionist theory of causation developed by Woodward. The import of the idea that causal claims involve contrastive classes in mental causation is also discussed. It is argued that mental causation is much less a problem than it has appeared to be.
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