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  1. Degree of Explanation.Robert Northcott - 2012 - Synthese 190 (15):3087-3105.
    Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures (...)
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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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  • Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
    Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
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  • Abstract Versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...)
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  • A Model-Invariant Theory of Causation.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    I provide a theory of causation within the causal modeling framework. In contrast to most of its predecessors, this theory is model-invariant in the following sense: if the theory says that C caused (didn't cause) E in a causal model, M, then it will continue to say that C caused (didn't cause) E once we've removed an inessential variable from M. I suggest that, if this theory is true, then we should understand a cause as something which transmits deviant or (...)
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  • Causal Foundationalism, Physical Causation, and Difference-Making.Luke Glynn - 2013 - Synthese 190 (6):1017-1037.
    An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. (...)
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  • Pre-Emption Cases May Support, Not Undermine, the Counterfactual Theory of Causation.Robert Northcott - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Pre-emption cases have been taken by almost everyone to imply the unviability of the simple counterfactual theory of causation. Yet there is ample motivation from scientific practice to endorse a simple version of the theory if we can. There is a way in which a simple counterfactual theory, at least if understood contrastively, can be supported even while acknowledging that intuition goes firmly against it in pre-emption cases – or rather, only in some of those cases. For I present several (...)
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  • The Psychological Representation of Modality.Jonathan Phillips & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):1-.
    A series of recent studies have explored the impact of people's judgments regarding physical law, morality, and probability. Surprisingly, such studies indicate that these three apparently unrelated types of judgments often have precisely the same impact. We argue that these findings provide evidence for a more general hypothesis about the kind of cognition people use to think about possibilities. Specifically, we suggest that this aspect of people's cognition is best understood using an idea developed within work in the formal semantics (...)
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  • Indeterminacy in Causation.Eric Swanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):606–624.
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  • Causal Superseding.Jonathan F. Kominsky, Jonathan Phillips, Tobias Gerstenberg, David Lagnado & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognition 137:196-209.
    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 (...)
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  • Actual Causation and Compositionality.Jonathan Livengood & Justin Sytsma - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    Many theories of actual causation implicitly endorse the claim that if c is an actual cause of e, then either c causes e directly or every intermediary by which c indirectly causes e is itself both an actual cause of e and also an actual effect of c. We think this compositionality constraint is plausible. However, as we show, it is not always satisfied by the causal attributions ordinary people make. After showing that the compositionality constraint is not always satisfied (...)
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  • Causal Modeling, Reversibility, and Logics of Counterfactuals.Wai Yin Lam - 2012 - Dissertation, Lingnan University
    This thesis studies Judea Pearl’s logic of counterfactuals derived from the causal modeling framework, in comparison to the influential Stanlnaker-Lewis counterfactual logics. My study focuses on a characteristic principle in Pearl’s logic, named reversibility. The principle, as Pearl pointed out, goes beyond Lewis’s logic. Indeed, it also goes beyond the stronger logic of Stanlnaker, which is more analogous to Pearl’s logic. The first result of this thesis is an extension of Stanlnaker’s logic incorporating reversibility. It will be observed that the (...)
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  • Explanatory Conditionals.Holger Andreas - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    The present paper aims to complement causal model approaches to causal explanation by Woodward [15], Halpern and Pearl [5], and Strevens [14]. It centres on a strengthened Ramsey Test of conditionals: α ≫ γ iff, after sus- pending judgment about α and γ, an agent can infer γ from the supposition of α. It has been shown by Andreas and Gu ̈nther [1] that such a conditional can be used as starting point of an analysis of ‘because’ in natural language. (...)
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  • Causes As Difference‐Makers For Processes.Christian Loew - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (1):89-106.
    It is natural to think of causes as difference-makers. What exact difference causes make, however, is an open question. In this paper, I argue that the right way of understanding difference-making is in terms of causal processes: causes make a difference to a causal process that leads to the effect. I will show that this way of understanding difference-making nicely captures the distinction between causing an outcome and helping determine how the outcome happens and, thus, explains why causation is not (...)
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  • Causal Contextualisms.Jonathan Schaffer - 2012 - In Martijn Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in Philosophy: New Perspectives. Routledge.
    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 (...)
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  • The Transitivity and Asymmetry of Actual Causation.Sander Beckers & Joost Vennekens - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:1-27.
    The counterfactual tradition to defining actual causation has come a long way since Lewis started it off. However there are still important open problems that need to be solved. One of them is the (in)transitivity of causation. Endorsing transitivity was a major source of trouble for the approach taken by Lewis, which is why currently most approaches reject it. But transitivity has never lost its appeal, and there is a large literature devoted to understanding why this is so. Starting from (...)
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  • Processes, Pre-Emption and Further Problems.Andreas Hüttemann - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    In this paper I will argue that what makes our ordinary judgements about token causation (‘actual causation’) true can be explicated in terms of interferences into quasi-inertial processes. These interferences and quasi-inertial processes can in turn be fully explicated in scientific terms. In this sense the account presented here is reductive. I will furthermore argue that this version of a process-theory of causation can deal with the traditional problems that process theories have to face, such as the problem of misconnection (...)
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  • Failure: Analysis of an Engineering Concept.L. Del Frate - unknown
    This thesis is an attempt to clarify a concept we are all familiar with, engineers and non-engineers alike. It shows that, behind the first impression of familiarity, there is a wide range of intuitions about failure which are not easily reconciled. While the ensuing ambiguities and lack of clarity may be tolerated in ordinary circumstances, engineers strive for precision and efficiency. These qualities become even more relevant given that engineering activities are increasingly carried out by multidisciplinary and multicultural teams. The (...)
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  • Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach. Part I: Causes.Joseph Y. Halpern & Judea Pearl - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):843-887.
    Department of Computer Science, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA judea{at}cs.ucla.edu' + u + '@' + d + ''//--> We propose a new definition of actual causes, using structural equations to model counterfactuals. We show that the definition yields a plausible and elegant account of causation that handles well examples which have caused problems for other definitions and resolves major difficulties in the traditional account. Introduction Causal models: a review 2.1 Causal models 2.2 Syntax and semantics (...)
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  • Probabilistic Actual Causation.Fenton-Glynn Luke - manuscript
    Actual causes - e.g. Suzy's being exposed to asbestos - often bring about their effects - e.g. Suzy's suffering mesothelioma - probabilistically. I use probabilistic causal models to tackle one of the thornier difficulties for traditional accounts of probabilistic actual causation: namely probabilistic preemption.
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  • Contrastive Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.
    Causation is widely assumed to be a binary relation: c causes e. I will argue that causation is a quaternary, contrastive relation: c rather than C* causes e rather than E*, where C* and E* are nonempty sets of contrast events. Or at least, I will argue that treating causation as contrastive helps resolve some paradoxes.
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  • Two Causal Theories of Counterfactual Conditionals.Lance J. Rips - 2010 - Cognitive Science 34 (2):175-221.
    Bayes nets are formal representations of causal systems that many psychologists have claimed as plausible mental representations. One purported advantage of Bayes nets is that they may provide a theory of counterfactual conditionals, such as If Calvin had been at the party, Miriam would have left early. This article compares two proposed Bayes net theories as models of people's understanding of counterfactuals. Experiments 1-3 show that neither theory makes correct predictions about backtracking counterfactuals (in which the event of the if-clause (...)
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  • Restricted Causal Relevance.Anders Strand & Gry Oftedal - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):431-457.
    Causal selection and priority are at the heart of discussions of the causal parity thesis, which says that all causes of a given effect are on a par, and that any justified priority assigned to a given cause results from causal explanatory interests. In theories of causation that provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of causal claims, status as cause is an either/or issue: either a given cause satisfies the conditions or it does not. Consequently, assessments of causal (...)
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  • Assertions of Clarity & Raising Awareness.Phil Crone - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (1):53-97.
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  • Graded Causation and Defaults.Joseph Y. Halpern & Christopher Hitchcock - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):413-457.
    Recent work in psychology and experimental philosophy has shown that judgments of actual causation are often influenced by consideration of defaults, typicality, and normality. A number of philosophers and computer scientists have also suggested that an appeal to such factors can help deal with problems facing existing accounts of actual causation. This article develops a flexible formal framework for incorporating defaults, typicality, and normality into an account of actual causation. The resulting account takes actual causation to be both graded and (...)
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  • A Rational Analysis of Rule-Based Concept Learning.Noah Goodman, Joshua Tenenbaum, Jacob Feldman & Thomas Griffiths - 2008 - Cognitive Science 32 (1):108-154.
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  • Structural Equations and Beyond.Franz Huber - 2013 - Review of Symbolic Logic 6 (4):709-732.
    Recent accounts of actual causation are stated in terms of extended causal models. These extended causal models contain two elements representing two seemingly distinct modalities. The first element are structural equations which represent the or mechanisms of the model, just as ordinary causal models do. The second element are ranking functions which represent normality or typicality. The aim of this paper is to show that these two modalities can be unified. I do so by formulating two constraints under which extended (...)
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  • Foundations of a Probabilistic Theory of Causal Strength.Jan Sprenger - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (3):371-398.
    This paper develops axiomatic foundations for a probabilistic-interventionist theory of causal strength. Transferring methods from Bayesian confirmation theory, I proceed in three steps: I develop a framework for defining and comparing measures of causal strength; I argue that no single measure can satisfy all natural constraints; I prove two representation theorems for popular measures of causal strength: Pearl's causal effect measure and Eells' difference measure. In other words, I demonstrate these two measures can be derived from a set of plausible (...)
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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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  • An Anatomy of Moral Responsibility.M. Braham & M. van Hees - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):601-634.
    This paper examines the structure of moral responsibility for outcomes. A central feature of the analysis is a condition that we term the ‘avoidance potential’, which gives precision to the idea that moral responsibility implies a reasonable demand that an agent should have acted otherwise. We show how our theory can allocate moral responsibility to individuals in complex collective action problems, an issue that sometimes goes by the name of ‘the problem of many hands’. We also show how it allocates (...)
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  • Normality and Actual Causal Strength.Thomas F. Icard, Jonathan F. Kominsky & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognition 161:80-93.
    Existing research suggests that people's judgments of actual causation can be influenced by the degree to which they regard certain events as normal. We develop an explanation for this phenomenon that draws on standard tools from the literature on graphical causal models and, in particular, on the idea of probabilistic sampling. Using these tools, we propose a new measure of actual causal strength. This measure accurately captures three effects of normality on causal judgment that have been observed in existing studies. (...)
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  • Review of Woodward, Making Things Happen. [REVIEW]Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233–249.
    The concept of causation plays a central role in many philosophical theories, and yet no account of causation has gained widespread acceptance among those who have investigated its foundations. Theories based on laws, counterfactuals, physical processes, and probabilistic dependence and independence relations (the list is by no means exhaustive) have all received detailed treatment in recent years---{}and, while no account has been entirely successful, it is generally agreed that the concept has been greatly clari{}ed by the attempts. In this magni{}cent (...)
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  • Causal Models, Token Causation, and Processes.Peter Menzies - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):820-832.
    Judea Pearl (2000) has recently advanced a theory of token causation using his structural equations approach. This paper examines some counterexamples to Pearl's theory, and argues that the theory can be modified in a natural way to overcome them.
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  • Mechanisms and Counterfactuals: A Different Glimpse of the Connexion.Rafaella Campaner - 2006 - Philosophica 77.
    Ever since Wesley Salmon’s theory, the mechanical approach to causality has found an increasing number of supporters who have developed it in different directions. Mechanical views such as those advanced by Stuart Glennan, Jim Bogen and Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver have met with broad consensus in recent years. This paper analyses the main features of these mechanical positions and some of the major problems they still face, referring to the latest debate on mechanisms, causal explanation and the (...)
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  • Difference-Making, Closure and Exclusion.Brad Weslake - forthcoming - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford University Press.
    Consider the following causal exclusion principle: For all distinct properties F and F* such that F* supervenes on F, F and F* do not both cause a property G. Peter Menzies and Christian List have proven that it follows from a natural conception of causation as difference-making that this exclusion principle is not generally true. Rather, it turns out that whether the principle is true is a contingent matter. In addition, they have shown that in a wide range of empirically (...)
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  • Agency as Difference-Making: Causal Foundations of Moral Responsibility.Johannes Himmelreich - 2015 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science
    We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is (...)
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  • Compact Representations of Extended Causal Models.Joseph Y. Halpern & Christopher Hitchcock - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (6):986-1010.
    Judea Pearl (2000) was the first to propose a definition of actual causation using causal models. A number of authors have suggested that an adequate account of actual causation must appeal not only to causal structure but also to considerations of normality. In Halpern and Hitchcock (2011), we offer a definition of actual causation using extended causal models, which include information about both causal structure and normality. Extended causal models are potentially very complex. In this study, we show how it (...)
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  • A Regularity Theoretic Approach to Actual Causation.Michael Baumgartner - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):85-109.
    The majority of the currently flourishing theories of actual causation are located in a broadly counterfactual framework that draws on structural equations. In order to account for cases of symmetric overdeterminiation and preemption, these theories resort to rather intricate analytical tools, most of all, to what Hitchcock has labeled explicitly nonforetracking counterfactuals. This paper introduces a regularity theoretic approach to actual causation that only employs material conditionals, standard Boolean minimization procedures, and a stability condition that regulates the behavior of causal (...)
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  • Counterfactuals and Counterparts: Defending a Neo-Humean Theory of Causation.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Dissertation, Macquarie University and University of Glasgow
    Whether there exist causal relations between guns firing and people dying, between pedals pressed and cars accelerating, or between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, is typically taken to be a mind-independent, objective, matter of fact. However, recent contributions to the literature on causation, in particular theories of contrastive causation and causal modelling, have undermined this central causal platitude by relativising causal facts to models or to interests. This thesis flies against the prevailing wind by arguing that we must pay (...)
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  • Is Determinism More Favorable Than Indeterminism for the Causal Markov Condition?Isabelle Drouet - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):662-675.
    The present text comments on Steel 2005 , in which the author claims to extend from the deterministic to the general case, the result according to which the causal Markov condition is satisfied by systems with jointly independent exogenous variables. I show that Steel’s claim cannot be accepted unless one is prepared to abandon standard causal modeling terminology. Correlatively, I argue that the most fruitful aspect of Steel 2005 consists in a realist conception of error terms, and I show how (...)
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  • Experimental Philosophy and Causal Attribution.Jonathan Livengood & David Rose - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell.
    Humans often attribute the things that happen to one or another actual cause. In this chapter, we survey some recent philosophical and psychological research on causal attribution. We pay special attention to the relation between graphical causal modeling and theories of causal attribution. We think that the study of causal attribution is one place where formal and experimental techniques nicely complement one another.
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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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  • Explanatory Abstraction and the Goldilocks Problem: Interventionism Gets Things Just Right.Thomas Blanchard - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall ([2016]), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately abstract explanations optimally subserve what interventionists regard as the goal of explanation, namely identifying possible interventions that would have changed the explanandum.
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  • Inderterminacy in Causation.Eric Swanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):606-624.
    I argue that there are some causal relata for which it is indeterminate whether one caused the other. Positing indeterminacy in causation helps us defend contested principles in the logic of causation and makes possible new ways of thinking about the theoretical impact of symmetric causal overdetermination. I close by discussing amendments of current theories of causation that would help explain causal indeterminacy.
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  • 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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  • Following the FAD: Folk Attributions and Theories of Actual Causation.Jonathan Livengood, Justin Sytsma & David Rose - manuscript
    Using structural equations and directed graphs, Christopher Hitchcock (2007a) proposes a theory specifying the circumstances in which counterfactual dependence of one event e on another event c is necessary and sufficient for c to count as an actual cause of e. In this paper, we argue that Hitchcock is committed to a widely-endorsed folk attribution desideratum (FAD) for theories of actual causation. We then show experimentally that Hitchcock’s theory does not satisfy the FAD, and hence, it is in need of (...)
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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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  • Getting Rid of Interventions.Alexander Reutlinger - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):787-795.
    According to James Woodward’s influential interventionist account of causation, X is a cause of Y iff, roughly, there is a possible intervention on X that changes Y. Woodward requires that interventions be merely logically possible. I will argue for two claims against this modal character of interventions: First, merely logically possible interventions are dispensable for the semantic project of providing an account of the meaning of causal statements. If interventions are indeed dispensable, the interventionist theory collapses into a counterfactual theory (...)
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