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Contrastive causation

Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358 (2005)

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  1. Would‐Cause Semantics.Phil Dowe - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):701-711.
    This article raises two difficulties that certain approaches to causation have with would‐cause counterfactuals. First, there is a problem with David Lewis’s semantics of counterfactuals when we ‘suppose in’ some positive event of a certain kind. And, second, there is a problem with embedded counterfactuals. I show that causal‐modeling approaches do not have these problems. †To contact the author, please write to: Philosophy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia; e‐mail: p.dowe@uq.edu.au.
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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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  • Thick Concepts and Sociological Research.Gabriel Abend - 2019 - Sociological Theory 37 (3):209-233.
    I consider how to do sociological things with thick concepts, what’s the relation between thick concepts and social facts, what’s unique about thick concepts, and what’s unique about creatures in whose lives there are thick concepts.
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  • Multiple Reasonable Behaviors Cases: The Problem of Causal Underdetermination in Tort Law.Maytal Gilboa - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (2):77-104.
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  • Harm and Causation.Robert Northcott - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (2):147-164.
    I propose an analysis of harm in terms of causation: harm is when a subject is caused to be worse off. The pay-off from this lies in the details. In particular, importing influential recent work from the causation literature yields a contrastive-counterfactual account. This enables us to incorporate harm's multiple senses into a unified scheme, and to provide that scheme with theoretical ballast. It also enables us to respond effectively to previous criticisms of counterfactual accounts, as well as to sharpen (...)
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  • 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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  • Conceived This Way: Innateness Defended.Northcott Robert - forthcoming - Philosophers Imprint.
    We propose a novel account of the distinction between innate and acquired biological traits: biological traits are innate to the degree that they are caused by factors intrinsic to the organism at the time of its origin; they are acquired to the degree that they are caused by factors extrinsic to the organism. This account borrows from recent work on causation in order to make rigorous the notion of quantitative contributions to traits by different factors in development. We avoid the (...)
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  • Causal Networks or Causal Islands? The Representation of Mechanisms and the Transitivity of Causal Judgment.Samuel G. B. Johnson & Woo-Kyoung Ahn - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (7):1468-1503.
    Knowledge of mechanisms is critical for causal reasoning. We contrasted two possible organizations of causal knowledge—an interconnected causal network, where events are causally connected without any boundaries delineating discrete mechanisms; or a set of disparate mechanisms—causal islands—such that events in different mechanisms are not thought to be related even when they belong to the same causal chain. To distinguish these possibilities, we tested whether people make transitive judgments about causal chains by inferring, given A causes B and B causes C, (...)
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  • Contrastive Self-Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):139-152.
    In this paper, I draw on a recent account of perceptual knowledge according to which knowledge is contrastive. I extend the contrastive account of perceptual knowledge to yield a contrastive account of self-knowledge. Along the way, I develop a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires, regrets and so on) and suggest that a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes implies an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts (the concepts of belief, desire, regret, and so on).
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  • A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of the Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’.Luke Fenton-Glynn - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1061-1164.
    In their article 'Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach. Part I: Causes', Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of 'actual cause'. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation.
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  • Causing Global Warming.Mattias Gunnemyr - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (2):399-424.
    Do I cause global warming, climate change and their related harms when I go for a leisure drive with my gas-guzzling car? The current verdict seems to be that I do not; the emissions produced by my drive are much too insignificant to make a difference for the occurrence of global warming and its related harms. I argue that our verdict on this issue depends on what we mean by ‘causation’. If we for instance assume a simple counterfactual analysis of (...)
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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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  • New Data on the Linguistic Diversity of Authorship in Philosophy Journals.Chun-Ping Yen & Tzu-Wei Hung - 2018 - Erkenntnis 84 (4):1-22.
    This paper investigates the representation of authors with different linguistic backgrounds in academic publishing. We first review some common rebuttals of concerns about linguistic injustice. We then analyze 1039 authors of philosophy journals, primarily selected from the 2015 Leiter Report. While our data show that Anglophones dominate the output of philosophy papers, this unequal distribution cannot be solely attributed to language capacities. We also discover that ethics journals have more Anglophone authors than logic journals and that most authors are affiliated (...)
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  • Kind‐Dependent Grounding.Alex Moran - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (3):359-390.
    Are grounding claims fully general in character? If an object a is F in virtue of being G, does it follow that anything that’s G is F for that reason? According to the thesis of Weak Formality, the answer here is ‘yes’. In this paper, however, I argue that there is philosophical utility in rejecting this thesis. More exactly, I argue that two currently unresolved problems in contemporary metaphysics can be dealt with if we hold that there can be cases (...)
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  • Dispositional Versus Epistemic Causality.Jon Williamson - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (3):259-276.
    I put forward several desiderata that a philosophical theory of causality should satisfy: it should account for the objectivity of causality, it should underpin formalisms for causal reasoning, it should admit a viable epistemology, it should be able to cope with the great variety of causal claims that are made, and it should be ontologically parsimonious. I argue that Nancy Cartwright’s dispositional account of causality goes part way towards meeting these criteria but is lacking in important respects. I go on (...)
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  • The Contextual Character of Causal Evidence.Mauricio Suárez - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):397-406.
    I argue for the thesis that causal evidence is context-dependent. The same causal claim may be warranted by the same piece of evidence in one context but not another. I show this in particular for the type of causal evidence characteristic of the manipulability theory defended by Woodward (Making things happen: a theory of causal explanation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003). My thesis, however, generalises to other theories—and at the end of the paper I outline the generalization to counterfactual theories. (...)
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  • 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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  • Where to Look for Emergent Properties.Agustín Vicente - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2):156.
    Recent years have seen renewed interest in the emergence issue. The contemporary debate, in contrast with that of past times, has to do not so much with the mind–body problem as with the relationship between the physical and other domains; mostly with the biological domain. One of the main sources of this renewed interest is the study of complex and, in general, far-from-equilibrium self-preserving systems, which seem to fulfil one of the necessary conditions for an entity to be emergent; namely, (...)
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  • A Defense of Causal Invariantism.Martin Montminy & Andrew Russo - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy (4):1-27.
    Causal contextualism holds that sentences of the form ‘c causes e’ have context-sensitive truth-conditions. We consider four arguments invoked by Jonathan Schaffer in favor of this view. First, he argues that his brand of contextualism helps solve puzzles about transitivity. Second, he contends that how one describes the relata of the causal relation sometimes affects the truth of one’s claim. Third, Schaffer invokes the phenomenon of contrastive focus to conclude that causal statements implicitly designate salient alternatives to the cause and (...)
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  • Causalidade.Eduardo Castro - 2014 - Compêndio Em Linha de Problemas de Filosofia Ananlítica.
    State of art paper on the topic causation, around the problem of the nature of causation. Central theories of contemporary philosophical literature are discussed and analysed, namely, regularity theories of Hume and Mackie, counterfactual theories of Lewis, probabilistic theories of Reichenbach, Lewis and Menzies and causal processes theories of Salmon and Dowe.
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  • Folk Intuitions of Actual Causation: A Two-Pronged Debunking Explanation.David Rose - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1323-1361.
    How do we determine whether some candidate causal factor is an actual cause of some particular outcome? Many philosophers have wanted a view of actual causation which fits with folk intuitions of actual causation and those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation are often charged with the task of providing a plausible account of just how and where the folk have gone wrong. In this paper, I provide a range of empirical evidence aimed at showing just (...)
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  • A Writing Guide for Professional Philosophers.Neil Mehta - manuscript
    This guide focuses on the content and form of excellent philosophical writing, with further comments on reading, thinking, writing processes, publication strategies, and self-cultivation.
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  • Transitivity and Proportionality in Causation.Neil McDonnell - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):1211-1229.
    It is commonly assumed that causation is transitive and in this paper I aim to reconcile this widely-held assumption with apparent evidence to the contrary. I will discuss a familiar approach to certain well-known counterexamples, before introducing a more resistant sort of case of my own. I will then offer a novel solution, based on Yablo’s proportionality principle, that succeeds in even these more resistant cases. There is a catch, however. Either proportionality is a constraint on which causal claims are (...)
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  • Dretske on Self-Knowledge and Contrastive Focus: How to Understand Dretske’s Theory, and Why It Matters.Michael Roche & William Roche - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (5):975-992.
    Dretske’s theory of self-knowledge is interesting but peculiar and can seem implausible. He denies that we can know by introspection that we have thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But he allows that we can know by introspection what we think, feel, and experience. We consider two puzzles. The first puzzle, PUZZLE 1, is interpretive. Is there a way of understanding Dretske’s theory on which the knowledge affirmed by its positive side is different than the knowledge denied by its negative side? The (...)
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  • Hasteners and Delayers: Why Rains Don’T Cause Fires.Caroline Torpe Touborg - 2017 - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    We typically judge that hasteners are causes of what they hasten, while delayers are not causes of what they delay. These judgements, I suggest, are sensitive to an underlying metaphysical distinction. To see this, we need to pay attention to a relation that I call positive security-dependence, where an event E security-depends positively on an earlier event C just in case E could more easily have failed to occur if C had not occurred. I suggest that we judge that an (...)
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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 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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  • Dispositional Explanations in Dualism.Janko Nesic - 2013 - Filozofija I Društvo 24 (4):218-241.
    In order to defend mental explanations dualists may appeal to dispositions (powers). By accepting a powers theory of causation, a dualist can more plausibly defend mental explanations that are given independently of physical explanations. Accepting a power-based theory still comes with a price. Absences and double preventers are not causes in a powers theory, and solutions based on them can only defend their explanatory relevance in mental explanations. There is still a chance that such mental explanations can be causal explanations, (...)
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  • Should Explanations Omit the Details?Darren Bradley - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    There is a widely shared belief that the higher level sciences can provide better explanations than lower level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why (...)
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  • Explanatory Power of Extended Cognition.Samuli Pöyhönen - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (5):735-759.
    I argue that examining the explanatory power of the hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC) offers a fruitful approach to the problem of cognitive system demarcation. Although in the discussions on HEC it has become common to refer to considerations of explanatory power as a means for assessing the plausibility of the extended cognition approach, to date no satisfying account of explanatory power has been presented in the literature. I suggest that the currently most prominent theory of explanation in the special (...)
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  • A Model-Invariant Theory of Token Causation.J. Dmitri Gallow - manuscript
    I provide a theory of causation formulated within the causal modeling framework. In contrast to 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 non-inertial (...)
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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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  • Contrastive Causal Claims: A Case Study.Georgie Statham - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):663-688.
    ABSTRACT Contrastive and deviant/default accounts of causation are becoming increasingly common. However, discussions of these accounts have neglected important questions, including how the context determines the contrasts, and what shared knowledge is necessary for this to be possible. I address these questions, using organic chemistry as a case study. Focusing on one example—nucleophilic substitution—I show that the kinds of causal claims that can be made about an organic reaction depend on how the reaction is modelled, and argue that paying attention (...)
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  • Disjunctive Effects and the Logic of Causation.R. Ballarin - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):21-38.
    We argue in favor of merely disjunctive effects, namely cases in which an event or fact, C, is not a cause of an effect, E1, and is also not a cause of a distinct effect, E2, and yet C is a cause of the disjunctive effect (E1 orE2). Disjunctive effects let us retain the additivity and the distributivity of causation. According to additivity, if C is a cause of E1 and C is a cause of E2, then C is a (...)
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  • Against the Contrastive Account of Singular Causation.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):115-143.
    For at least three decades, philosophers have argued that general causation and causal explanation are contrastive in nature. When we seek a causal explanation of some particular event, we are usually interested in knowing why that event happened rather than some other specified event. And general causal claims, which state that certain event types cause certain other event types, seem to make sense only if appropriate contrasts to the types of events acting as cause and effect are specified. In recent (...)
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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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  • On the Dispensability of Grounding: Ground-Breaking Work on Metaphysical Explanation.James Norton - 2017 - Dissertation, The University of Sydney
    Primitive, unanalysable grounding relations are considered by many to be indispensable constituents of the metaphysician’s toolkit. Yet, as a primitive ontological posit, grounding must earn its keep by explaining features of the world not explained by other tools already at our disposal. Those who defend grounding contend that grounding is required to play two interconnected roles: accounting for widespread intuitions regarding what is ontologically prior to what, and forming the backbone of a theory of metaphysical explanation, in much the same (...)
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  • Contrastive Explanation and the Many Absences Problem.Jane Suilin Lavelle, George Botterill & Suzanne Lock - 2013 - Synthese 190 (16):3495-3510.
    We often explain by citing an absence or an omission. Apart from the problem of assigning a causal role to such apparently negative factors as absences and omissions, there is a puzzle as to why only some absences and omissions, out of indefinitely many, should figure in explanations. In this paper we solve this ’many absences problem’ by using the contrastive model of explanation. The contrastive model of explanation is developed by adapting Peter Lipton’s account. What initially appears to be (...)
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  • Natural-Born Determinists: A New Defense of Causation as Probability-Raising.Robert Northcott - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):1-20.
    A definition of causation as probability-raising is threatened by two kinds of counterexample: first, when a cause lowers the probability of its effect; and second, when the probability of an effect is raised by a non-cause. In this paper, I present an account that deals successfully with problem cases of both these kinds. In doing so, I also explore some novel implications of incorporating into the metaphysical investigation considerations of causal psychology.
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  • Genetic Traits and Causal Explanation.Robert Northcott - 2012 - In Kathryn Plaisance & Thomas Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Springer. pp. 65-82.
    I use a contrastive theory of causal explanation to analyze the notion of a genetic trait. The resulting definition is relational, an implication of which is that no trait is genetic always and everywhere. Rather, every trait may be either genetic or non-genetic, depending on explanatory context. I also outline some other advantages of connecting the debate to the wider causation literature, including how that yields us an account of the distinction between genetic traits and genetic dispositions.
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  • Causation and Contrast Classes.Robert Northcott - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 139 (1):111 - 123.
    I argue that causation is a contrastive relation: c-rather-than-C* causes e-rather-than-E*, where C* and E* are contrast classes associated respectively with actual events c and e. I explain why this is an improvement on the traditional binary view, and develop a detailed definition. It turns out that causation is only well defined in ‘uniform’ cases, where either all or none of the members of C* are related appropriately to members of E*.
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  • The Role of Chance in Explanation.Bradford Skow - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy (1):1-21.
    ?Those ice cubes melted because by melting total entropy increased and entropy increase has a very high objective chance.? What role does the chance in this explanation play? I argue that it contributes to the explanation by entailing that the melting was almost necessary, and defend the claim that the fact that some event was almost necessary can, in the right circumstances, constitute a causal explanation of that event.
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  • Psa 2018.Philsci-Archive -Preprint Volume- - unknown
    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2018.
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  • The Proportionality of Common Sense Causal Claims.Jennifer McDonald - unknown
    This paper defends strong proportionality against what I take to be its principal objection – that proportionality fails to preserve common sense causal intuitions – by articulating independently plausible constraints on how to represent causal situations. I first assume an interventionist formulation of proportionality, following Woodward. This views proportionality as a relational constraint on variable selection in causal modeling that requires that changes in the cause variable line up with those in the effect variable. I then argue that the principal (...)
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  • Dissecting Explanatory Power.Petri Ylikoski & Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (2):201–219.
    Comparisons of rival explanations or theories often involve vague appeals to explanatory power. In this paper, we dissect this metaphor by distinguishing between different dimensions of the goodness of an explanation: non-sensitivity, cognitive salience, precision, factual accuracy and degree of integration. These dimensions are partially independent and often come into conflict. Our main contribution is to go beyond simple stipulation or description by explicating why these factors are taken to be explanatory virtues. We accomplish this by using the contrastive-counterfactual approach (...)
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  • Kim on Causation and Mental Causation.Panu Raatikainen - 2018 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 25 (2):22–47.
    Jaegwon Kim’s views on mental causation and the exclusion argument are evaluated systematically. Particular attention is paid to different theories of causation. It is argued that the exclusion argument and its premises do not cohere well with any systematic view of causation.
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  • Causal and Constitutive Explanation Compared.Petri Ylikoski - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):277-297.
    This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between building and causal manipulation, causation and constitution are not to be confused. Constitution is a synchronous and (...)
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  • A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of the Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’.Luke Fenton-Glynn - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1061-1124.
    ABSTRACT Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of ‘actual cause’. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation. 1Introduction 2Preemption 3Structural Equation Models 4The Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’ 5Preemption Again 6The Probabilistic Case 7Probabilistic Causal Models 8A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of Halpern and Pearl’s Definition 9Twardy and Korb’s Account 10Probabilistic (...)
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