Causal Control: A Rationale for Causal Selection

Abstract

Causal selection has to do with the distinction we make between background conditions and “the” true cause or causes of some outcome of interest. A longstanding consensus in philosophy views causal selection as lacking any objective rationale and as guided, instead, by arbitrary, pragmatic, and non-scientific considerations. I argue against this position in the context of causal selection for disease traits. In this domain, causes are selected on the basis of the type of causal control they exhibit over a disease of interest. My analysis clarifies the principled rationale that guides this selection and how it involves both pragmatic and objective considerations, which have been overlooked in the extant literature.

Author's Profile

Lauren N. Ross
University of California, Irvine

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2015-10-29

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