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Causation and Counterfactuals

MIT Press (2004)

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  1. Actual Causation and Simple Voting Scenarios.Jonathan Livengood - 2013 - Noûs 47 (2):316-345.
    Several prominent, contemporary theories of actual causation maintain that in order for something to count as an actual cause (in the circumstances) of some known effect, the potential cause must be a difference-maker with respect to the effect in some restricted range of circumstances. Although the theories disagree about how to restrict the range of circumstances that must be considered in deciding whether something counts as an actual cause of a known effect, the theories agree that at least some counterfactual (...)
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  • Causality Reunified.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):299-320.
    Hall has recently argued that there are two concepts of causality, picking out two different kinds of causal relation. McGrath, and Hitchcock and Knobe, have recently argued that the facts about causality depend on what counts as a “default” or “normal” state, or even on the moral facts. In the light of these claims you might be tempted to agree with Skyrms that causal relations constitute, metaphysically speaking, an “amiable jumble”, or with Cartwright that ‘causation’, though a single word, encompasses (...)
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  • Productivity, Relevance and Natural Selection.Stuart Glennan - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):325-339.
    Recent papers by a number of philosophers have been concerned with the question of whether natural selection is a causal process, and if it is, whether the causes of selection are properties of individuals or properties of populations. I shall argue that much confusion in this debate arises because of a failure to distinguish between causal productivity and causal relevance. Causal productivity is a relation that holds between events connected via continuous causal processes, while causal relevance is a relationship that (...)
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  • Knowledge, Practical Interests, and Rising Tides.Stephen R. Grimm - 2015 - In John Greco & David Henderson (eds.), Epistemic Evaluation: Purposeful Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    Defenders of pragmatic encroachment in epistemology (or what I call practicalism) need to address two main problems. First, the view seems to imply, absurdly, that knowledge can come and go quite easily—in particular, that it might come and go along with our variable practical interests. We can call this the stability problem. Second, there seems to be no fully satisfying way of explaining whose practical interests matter. We can call this the “whose stakes?” problem. I argue that both problems can (...)
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  • Mechanisms, Causes, and the Layered Model of the World.Stuart Glennan - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):362-381.
    Most philosophical accounts of causation take causal relations to obtain between individuals and events in virtue of nomological relations between properties of these individuals and events. Such views fail to take into account the consequences of the fact that in general the properties of individuals and events will depend upon mechanisms that realize those properties. In this paper I attempt to rectify this failure, and in so doing to provide an account of the causal relevance of higher-level properties. I do (...)
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  • Information Channels and Biomarkers of Disease.Phyllis Illari & Federica Russo - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):175-190.
    Current research in molecular epidemiology uses biomarkers to model the different disease phases from environmental exposure, to early clinical changes, to development of disease. The hope is to get a better understanding of the causal impact of a number of pollutants and chemicals on several diseases, including cancer and allergies. In a recent paper Russo and Williamson address the question of what evidential elements enter the conceptualisation and modelling stages of this type of biomarkers research. Recent research in causality has (...)
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  • Concrete Causation: About the Structures of Causal Knowledge.Roland Poellinger - 2012 - Dissertation, LMU Munich
    Concrete Causation centers about theories of causation, their interpretation, and their embedding in metaphysical-ontological questions, as well as the application of such theories in the context of science and decision theory. The dissertation is divided into four chapters, that firstly undertake the historical-systematic localization of central problems (chapter 1) to then give a rendition of the concepts and the formalisms underlying David Lewis' and Judea Pearl's theories (chapter 2). After philosophically motivated conceptual deliberations Pearl's mathematical-technical framework is drawn on for (...)
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  • Four Friendly Critics: A Response.Michael S. Moore - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (4):491-542.
    In this reply, I seek to summarize fairly the criticisms advanced by each of my four critics, Jonathan Schaffer, Gideon Yaffe, John Gardner, and Carolina Sartorio. That there is so little overlap either in the aspects of the book on which they focus or in the arguments they advance about those issues has forced me to reply to each of them separately. Schaffer focuses much of his criticisms on my view that absences cannot serve as causal relata and argues that (...)
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  • Imprecise Probability and Chance.Anthony Peressini - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):561-586.
    Understanding probabilities as something other than point values has often been motivated by the need to find more realistic models for degree of belief, and in particular the idea that degree of belief should have an objective basis in “statistical knowledge of the world.” I offer here another motivation growing out of efforts to understand how chance evolves as a function of time. If the world is “chancy” in that there are non-trivial, objective, physical probabilities at the macro-level, then the (...)
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  • Dualist Mental Causation and the Exclusion Problem.Thomas Kroedel - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):357-375.
    The paper argues that dualism can explain mental causation and solve the exclusion problem. If dualism is combined with the assumption that the psychophysical laws have a special status, it follows that some physical events counterfactually depend on, and are therefore caused by, mental events. Proponents of this account of mental causation can solve the exclusion problem in either of two ways: they can deny that it follows that the physical effect of a mental event is overdetermined by its mental (...)
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  • Causal Relata: Tokens, Types, or Variables?Daniel Murray Hausman - 2005 - Erkenntnis 63 (1):33-54.
    The literature on causation distinguishes between causal claims relating properties or types and causal claims relating individuals or tokens. Many authors maintain that corresponding to these two kinds of causal claims are two different kinds of causal relations. Whether to regard causal relations among variables as yet another variety of causation is also controversial. This essay maintains that causal relations obtain among tokens and that type causal claims are generalizations concerning causal relations among these tokens.
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  • Intuition Fail: Philosophical Activity and the Limits of Expertise.Wesley Buckwalter - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):378-410.
    Experimental philosophers have empirically challenged the connection between intuition and philosophical expertise. This paper reviews these challenges alongside other research findings in cognitive science on expert performance and argues for three claims. First, evidence taken to challenge philosophical expertise may also be explained by the well-researched failures and limitations of genuine expertise. Second, studying the failures and limitations of experts across many fields provides a promising research program upon which to base a new model of philosophical expertise. Third, a model (...)
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  • Causes of Causes.Alex Broadbent - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):457-476.
    When is a cause of a cause of an effect also a cause of that effect? The right answer is either Sometimes or Always . In favour of Always , transitivity is considered by some to be necessary for distinguishing causes from redundant non-causal events. Moreover transitivity may be motivated by an interest in an unselective notion of causation, untroubled by principles of invidious discrimination. And causal relations appear to add up like transitive relations, so that the obtaining of the (...)
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  • 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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  • A Ranking‐Theoretic Approach to Conditionals.Wolfgang Spohn - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (6):1074-1106.
    Conditionals somehow express conditional beliefs. However, conditional belief is a bi-propositional attitude that is generally not truth-evaluable, in contrast to unconditional belief. Therefore, this article opts for an expressivistic semantics for conditionals, grounds this semantics in the arguably most adequate account of conditional belief, that is, ranking theory, and dismisses probability theory for that purpose, because probabilities cannot represent belief. Various expressive options are then explained in terms of ranking theory, with the intention to set out a general interpretive scheme (...)
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  • Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals.David A. Lagnado, Tobias Gerstenberg & Ro'I. Zultan - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (6):1036-1073.
    How do people attribute responsibility in situations where the contributions of multiple agents combine to produce a joint outcome? The prevalence of over-determination in such cases makes this a difficult problem for counterfactual theories of causal responsibility. In this article, we explore a general framework for assigning responsibility in multiple agent contexts. We draw on the structural model account of actual causation (e.g., Halpern & Pearl, 2005) and its extension to responsibility judgments (Chockler & Halpern, 2004). We review the main (...)
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  • What is an Omission?Randolph Clarke - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):127-143.
    This paper examines three views of what an omission or an instance of refraining is. The view advanced is that in many cases, an omission is simply an absence of an action of some type. However, generally one’s not doing a certain thing counts as an omission only if there is some norm, standard, or ideal that calls for one’s doing that thing.
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  • On the Phenomenon of "Dog-Wise Arrangement".Crawford L. Elder - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):132–155.
    An influential line of thought in metaphysics holds that where common sense discerns a tree or a dog or a baseball there may be just many microparticles. Provided the microparticles are arranged in the right way -- are “treewise” or “dogwise” or “baseballwise” arranged -- our sensory experiences will be just the same as if a tree or dog or baseball were really there. Therefore whether there really are suchfamiliar objects in the world can be decided only by determining what (...)
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  • A Pluralist Framework to Address Challenges to the Modern Synthesis in Evolutionary Theory.Philippe Huneman - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (2):163-177.
    This paper uses formal Darwinism as elaborated by Alan Grafen to articulate an explanatory pluralism that casts light upon two strands of controversies running across evolutionary biology, viz., the place of organisms versus genes, and the role of adaptation. Formal Darwinism shows that natural selection can be viewed either physics-style, as a dynamics of alleles, or in the style of economics as an optimizing process. After presenting such pluralism, I argue first that whereas population genetics does not support optimization, optimality (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Omissions.Sara Bernstein - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (3):208-218.
    Omissions – any events, actions, or things that do not occur – are central to numerous debates in causation and ethics. This article surveys views on what omissions are, whether they are causally efficacious, and how they ground moral responsibility.
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  • A Strategy for Assessing Closure.Peter Murphy - 2006 - Erkenntnis 65 (3):365 - 383.
    This paper looks at an argument strategy for assessing the epistemic closure principle. This is the principle that says knowledge is closed under known entailment; or (roughly) if S knows p and S knows that p entails q, then S knows that q. The strategy in question looks to the individual conditions on knowledge to see if they are closed. According to one conjecture, if all the individual conditions are closed, then so too is knowledge. I give a deductive argument (...)
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  • Reversing the Counterfactual Analysis of Causation.Alex Broadbent - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (2):169 – 189.
    The counterfactual analysis of causation has focused on one particular counterfactual conditional, taking as its starting-point the suggestion that C causes E iff (C E). In this paper, some consequences are explored of reversing this counterfactual, and developing an account starting with the idea that C causes E iff (E C). This suggestion is discussed in relation to the problem of pre-emption. It is found that the 'reversed' counterfactual analysis can handle even the most difficult cases of pre-emption with only (...)
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  • Chance, Experimental Reproducibility, and Mechanistic Regularity.Tudor M. Baetu - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (3):253-271.
    Examples from the sciences showing that mechanisms do not always succeed in producing the phenomena for which they are responsible have led some authors to conclude that the regularity requirement can be eliminated from characterizations of mechanisms. In this article, I challenge this conclusion and argue that a minimal form of regularity is inextricably embedded in examples of elucidated mechanisms that have been shown to be causally responsible for phenomena. Examples of mechanistic explanations from the sciences involve mechanisms that have (...)
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  • EnviroGenomarkers: The Interplay Between Mechanisms and Difference Making in Establishing Causal Claims.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2012 - Medicine Studies 3 (4):249-262.
    According to Russo and Williamson :157–170, 2007, Hist Philos Life Sci 33:389–396, 2011a, Philos Sci 1:47–69, 2011b), in order to establish a causal claim of the form, ‘C is a cause of E’, one typically needs evidence that there is an underlying mechanism between C and E as well as evidence that C makes a difference to E. This thesis has been used to argue that hierarchies of evidence, as championed by evidence-based movements, tend to give primacy to evidence of (...)
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  • Can Determinable Properties Earn Their Keep?Robert Schroer - 2011 - Synthese 183 (2):229-247.
    Sydney Shoemaker's "Subset Account" offers a new take on determinable properties and the realization relation as well as a defense of non-reductive physicalism from the problem of mental causation. At the heart of this account are the claims that (1) mental properties are determinable properties and (2) the causal powers that individuate a determinable property are a proper subset of the causal powers that individuate the determinates of that property. The second claim, however, has led to the accusation that the (...)
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  • Humeans Aren't Out of Their Minds.Brian Weatherson - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):529–535.
    Humeanism is “the thesis that the whole truth about a world like ours supervenes on the spatiotemporal distribution of local qualities.” (Lewis, 1994, 473) Since the whole truth about our world contains truths about causation, causation must be located in the mosaic of local qualities that the Humean says constitute the whole truth about the world. The most natural ways to do this involve causation being in some sense extrinsic. To take the simplest possible Humean analysis, we might say that (...)
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  • Double Prevention and Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2009 - Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3):277-293.
    Does A cause B simply if A prevents what would have prevented B? Such a case is known as double prevention: where we have the prevention of a prevention. One theory of causation is that A causes B when B counterfactually depends on A and, as there is such a dependence, proponents of the view must rule that double prevention is causation.<br><br>However, if double prevention is causation, it means that causation can be an extrinsic matter, that the cause and effect (...)
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  • 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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  • Vihvelin on Frankfurt-Style Cases and the Actual-Sequence View.Carolina Sartorio - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (4):875-888.
    This is a critical discussion of Vihvelin’s recent book Causes, Laws, and Free Will. I discuss Vihvelin’s ideas on Frankfurt-style cases and the actual-sequence view of freedom that is inspired by them.
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  • Causes and Probability-Raisers of Processes.Sungho Choi - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):81 – 91.
    Schaffer proposes a new account of probabilistic causation that synthesizes the probability-raising and process-linkage views on causation. The driving idea of Schaffer's account is that, although an effect does not invariably depend on its cause, a process linked to the effect does. In this paper, however, I will advance counterexamples to Schaffer's account and then demonstrate that Schaffer's possible responses to them do not work. Finally, I will argue that my counterexamples suggest that the driving idea of Schaffer's account is (...)
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  • Negative Causation in Causal and Mechanistic Explanation.D. Benjamin Barros - 2013 - Synthese 190 (3):449-469.
    Instances of negative causation—preventions, omissions, and the like—have long created philosophical worries. In this paper, I argue that concerns about negative causation can be addressed in the context of causal explanation generally, and mechanistic explanation specifically. The gravest concern about negative causation is that it exacerbates the problem of causal promiscuity—that is, the problem that arises when a particular account of causation identifies too many causes for a particular effect. In the explanatory context, the problem of promiscuity can be solved (...)
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  • Dispositions, Causes, Persistence As Is, and General Relativity.Joel Katzav - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):41-57.
    I argue that, on a dispositionalist account of causation and indeed on any other view of causation according to which causation is a real relation, general relativity does not give causal principles a role in explaining phenomena. In doing so, I bring out a surprisingly substantial constraint on adequate views about the explanations and ontology of GR, namely the requirement that such views show how GR can explain motion that is free of disturbing influences.
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  • The Concept of Causation in Biology.Michael Joffe - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):179-197.
    This paper sets out to analyze how causation works by focusing on biology, as represented by epidemiology and by scientific information on how the body works (“physiology”). It starts by exploring the specificity of evolved physiological systems, in which evolutionary, developmental and proximal causes all fit together, and the concept of function is meaningful; in contrast, this structure does not apply in epidemiology (or outside biology). Using these two contrasting branches of biology, I examine the role both of mechanism and (...)
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  • Causation: A User's Guide.Raffaella Campaner - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2):221-223.
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  • Dynamical Versus Structural Explanations in Scientific Revolutions.Mauro Dorato - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2307-2327.
    By briefly reviewing three well-known scientific revolutions in fundamental physics (the discovery of inertia, of special relativity and of general relativity), I claim that problems that were supposed to be crying for a dynamical explanation in the old paradigm ended up receiving a structural explanation in the new one. This claim is meant to give more substance to Kuhn’s view that revolutions are accompanied by a shift in what needs to be explained, while suggesting at the same time the existence (...)
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  • Kim’s Dilemma: Why Mental Causation is Not Productive.Andrew Russo - 2015 - Synthese.
    Barry Loewer (2001, 2002, 2007) has argued that the nonreductive physicalist should respond to the exclusion problem by endorsing the overdetermination entailed by their view. Jaegwon Kim’s (2005, 2007) argument against this reply is based on the premise that mental causation is a productive relation involving the “flow” or “transfer” of some conserved quantity from cause to effect. In this paper, I challenge this premise by appealing to the underlying double prevention structure of the physiological mechanisms of human action. Since (...)
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  • Causes, Counterfactuals, and Non-Locality.Mathias Frisch - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):655-672.
    In order to motivate the thesis that there is no single concept of causation that can do justice to all of our core intuitions concerning that concept, Ned Hall has argued that there is a conflict between a counterfactual criterion of causation and the condition of causal locality. In this paper I critically examine Hall's argument within the context of a more general discussion of the role of locality constraints in a causal conception of the world. I present two strategies (...)
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  • Mind in a Humean World.Jens Harbecke - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):213-229.
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  • How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence.Erik Weber - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.
    In a recent article in this journal, Federica Russo and Jon Williamson argue that an analysis of causality in terms of probabilistic relationships does not do justice to the use of mechanistic evidence to support causal claims. I will present Ronald Giere's theory of probabilistic causation, and show that it can account for the use of mechanistic evidence (both in the health sciences—on which Russo and Williamson focus—and elsewhere). I also review some other probabilistic theories of causation (of Suppes, Eells, (...)
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  • Causation: Empirical Trends and Future Directions.David Rose & David Danks - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):643-653.
    Empirical research has recently emerged as a key method for understanding the nature of causation, and our concept of causation. One thread of research aims to test intuitions about the nature of causation in a variety of classic cases. These experiments have principally been used to try to resolve certain debates within analytic philosophy, most notably that between proponents of transference and dependence views of causation. The other major thread of empirical research on our concept of causation has investigated the (...)
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  • Dispositions and Tricks.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):587-596.
    According to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, disposition ascriptions are to be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals. The Simple Conditional Analysis is notoriously vulnerable to counterexamples. In this paper, I introduce a new sort of counterexample to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, which I call ‘tricks’. I then explore a number of possible strategies to modify the Simple Conditional Analysis so as to avoid tricks and conclude that, in order to avoid tricks, the associated counterfactual (...)
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  • Intrinsicality and Hyperintensionality.M. Eddon - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):314-336.
    The standard counterexamples to David Lewis’s account of intrinsicality involve two sorts of properties: identity properties and necessary properties. Proponents of the account have attempted to deflect these counterexamples in a number of ways. This paper argues that none of these moves are legitimate. Furthermore, this paper argues that no account along the lines of Lewis’s can succeed, for an adequate account of intrinsicality must be sensitive to hyperintensional distinctions among properties.
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  • Philosophy of Causation: Blind Alleys Exposed; Promising Directions Highlighted.Ned Hall - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):86–94.
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  • Causal Overdetermination for Humeans?Michael Esfeld - 2010 - Metaphysica 11 (2):99-104.
    The paper argues against systematic overdetermination being an acceptable solution to the problem of mental causation within a Humean counterfactual theory of causation. The truth-makers of the counterfactuals in question include laws of nature, and there are laws that support physical to physical counterfactuals, but no laws in the same sense that support mental to physical counterfactuals.
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  • What Should I Believe About What Would Have Been the Case?Franz Huber - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (1):81-110.
    The question I am addressing in this paper is the following: how is it possible to empirically test, or confirm, counterfactuals? After motivating this question in Section 1, I will look at two approaches to counterfactuals, and at how counterfactuals can be empirically tested, or confirmed, if at all, on these accounts in Section 2. I will then digress into the philosophy of probability in Section 3. The reason for this digression is that I want to use the way observable (...)
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  • Natural Selection: A Case for the Counterfactual Approach. [REVIEW]Philippe Huneman - 2012 - Erkenntnis 76 (2):171-194.
    This paper investigates the conception of causation required in order to make sense of natural selection as a causal explanation of changes in traits or allele frequencies. It claims that under a counterfactual account of causation, natural selection is constituted by the causal relevance of traits and alleles to the variation in traits and alleles frequencies. The “statisticalist” view of selection (Walsh, Matthen, Ariew, Lewens) has shown that natural selection is not a cause superadded to the causal interactions between individual (...)
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  • Being Positive About Negative Facts.Mark Jago & Stephen Barker - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):117-138.
    Negative facts get a bad press. One reason for this is that it is not clear what negative facts are. We provide a theory of negative facts on which they are no stranger than positive atomic facts. We show that none of the usual arguments hold water against this account. Negative facts exist in the usual sense of existence and conform to an acceptable Eleatic principle. Furthermore, there are good reasons to want them around, including their roles in causation, chance-making (...)
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  • Activity-Based Accounts of Mechanism and the Threat of Polygenic Effects.Johannes Persson - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (1):135 - 149.
    Accounts of ontic explanation have often been devised so as to provide an understanding of mechanism and of causation. Ontic accounts differ quite radically in their ontologies, and one of the latest additions to this tradition proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver reintroduces the concept of activity. In this paper I ask whether this influential and activity-based account of mechanisms is viable as an ontic account. I focus on polygenic scenarios—scenarios in which the causal truths depend on (...)
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  • From Interventions to Mechanistic Explanations.Tudor Baetu - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    An important strategy in the discovery of biological mechanisms involves the piecing together of experimental results from interventions. However, if mechanisms are investigated by means of ideal interventions, as defined by James Woodward and others, then the kind of information revealed is insufficient to discriminate between modular and non-modular causal contributions. Ideal interventions suffice for constructing webs of causal dependencies that can be used to make some predictions about experimental outcomes, but tell us little about how causally relevant factors are (...)
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  • Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation.Michael Esfeld - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (2):207 - 220.
    The paper argues for four claims: (1) The problem of mental causation and the argument for its solution in terms of the identity of mental with physical causes are independent of the theory of causation one favours. (2) If one considers our experience of agency as described by folk psychology to be veridical, one is committed to an anti-Humean metaphysics of causation in terms of powers that establish necessary connections. The same goes for functional properties in general. (3) A metaphysics (...)
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