Essential Structure for Causal Models

Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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This paper introduces and defends a new principle for when a structural equation model is apt for analyzing actual causation. Any such analysis in terms of these models has two components: a recipe for reading claims of actual causation off an apt model, and an articulation of what makes a model apt. The primary focus in the literature has been on the first component. But the problem of structural isomorphs has made the second especially pressing (Hall 2007; Hitchcock 2007a). Those with realist sympathies have reason to resist the standard response to this problem, which introduces a normative parameter into the metaphysics (Hall 2007; Halpern and Hitchcock 2010, 2015; Halpern 2016a; Menzies 2017; Gallow 2021). However, the only alternative solution in the literature leaves central questions unanswered (Blanchard and Schaffer 2017). I propose an independently motivated aptness requirement, Evident Mediation, that provides the missing details and resolves the structural isomorph problem without need for a normative parameter.

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Jennifer McDonald
Columbia University


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