Causality, Human Action and Experimentation: Von Wright's Approach to Causation in Contemporary Perspective

Acta Philosophica Fennica 93:355-373 (2017)
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This paper discusses von Wright's theory of causation from Explanation and Understanding and Causality and Determinism in contemporary context. I argue that there are two important common points that von Wright's view shares with the version of manipulability currently supported by Woodward: the analysis of causal relations in a system modelled on controlled experiments, and the explanation of manipulability through counterfactuals - with focus on the counterfactual account of unmanipulable causes. These points also mark von Wright's departure from previous action-based theories of causation. Owing to these two features, I argue that, upon classifying different versions of manipulability theories, von Wright's view should be placed closer to the interventionist approach than to the agency theory, where it currently stands. Furthermore, given its relevance in contemporary context, which this paper aims to establish, I claim that von Wright's theory can be employed to solve present problems connected to manipulability approaches to causation.

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Elena Popa
Jagiellonian University


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