Christopher Hitchcock California Institute of Technology
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  • Faculty, California Institute of Technology
  • PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 1993.

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I am Professor of Philosophy, in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, at the California Institute of Technology. I work primarily on causation, but also on other topics in general philosophy of science and formal epistemology. I have dabbled in many further areas: philosophy of biology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of law, psychology and experimental philosophy, metaphilosphy, philosophy of language and linguistics
My works
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  1. Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.) (forthcoming). Making a Difference. Oxford University Press.
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  2. Joseph Y. Halpern & Christopher Hitchcock (forthcoming). Graded Causation and Defaults. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axt050.
    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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  3. C. Hitchcock (forthcoming). Causation, Probabilistic. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  4. Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.) (forthcoming). Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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  5. Joseph Y. Halpern & Christopher Hitchcock (2013). Compact Representations of Extended Causal Models. 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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  6. Christopher Hitchcock (2013). What is the 'Cause' in Causal Decision Theory? Erkenntnis 78 (1):129-146.
    A simple counterfactual theory of causation fails because of problems with cases of preemption. This might lead us to expect that preemption will raise problems for counterfactual theories of other concepts that have a causal dimension. Indeed, examples are easy to find. But there is one case where we do not find this. Several versions of causal decision theory are formulated using counterfactuals. This might lead us to expect that these theories will yield the wrong recommendations in cases of preemption. (...)
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  7. Christopher Hitchcock (2012). Contrastive Explanation. In Martijn Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in Philosophy: New Perspectives. Routledge.
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  8. Christopher Hitchcock (2012). Events and Times: A Case Study in Means-Ends Metaphysics. Philosophical Studies 160 (1):79-96.
    There is a tradition, tracing back to Kant, of recasting metaphysical questions as questions about the utility of a conceptual scheme, linguistic framework, or methodological rule for achieving some particular end. Following in this tradition, I propose a ‘means-ends metaphysics’, in which one rigorously demonstrates the suitability of some conceptual framework for achieving a specified goal. I illustrate this approach using a debate about the nature of events. Specifically, the question is whether the time at which an event occurs is (...)
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  9. Christopher Hitchcock (2012). Portable Causal Dependence: A Tale of Consilience. Philosophy of Science 79 (5):942-951.
    This article describes research pursued by members of the McDonnell Collaborative on Causal Learning. A number of members independently converged on a similar idea: one of the central functions served by claims of actual causation is to highlight patterns of dependence that are highly portable into novel contexts. I describe in detail how this idea emerged in my own work and also in that of the psychologist Tania Lombrozo. In addition, I use the occasion to reflect on the nature of (...)
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  10. Christopher Hitchcock (2012). Thought Experiments, Real Experiments, and the Expertise Objection. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (2):205-218.
    It is a commonplace that in philosophy, intuitions supply evidence for and against philosophical theories. Recent work in experimental philosophy has brought to bear the intuitions of philosophically naïve subjects in a number of different ways. One line of response to this work has been to claim that philosophers have expertise that privileges their intuitive judgments, and allows them to disregard the judgments of non-experts. This expertise is supposed to be analogous to the expertise of the mathematician or the physicist. (...)
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  11. Christopher Hitchcock (2012). Theories of Causation and the Causal Exclusion Argument. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (5-6):5-6.
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  12. Branden Fitelson & Christopher Hitchcock (2011). Probabilistic Measures of Causal Strength. In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press. 600--627.
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  13. Christopher Hitchcock (2011). And Causal Judgment. In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Sarah R. Beck (eds.), Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation. Oxford University Press. 171.
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  14. Christopher Hitchcock (2011). Trumping and Contrastive Causation. Synthese 181 (2):227 - 240.
    Jonathan Schaffer introduced a new type of causal structure called 'trumping'. According to Schaffer, trumping is a species of causal preemption. Both Schaffer and I have argued that causation has a contrastive structure. In this paper, I analyze the structure of trumping cases from the perspective of contrastive causation, and argue that the case is much more complex than it first appears. Nonetheless, there is little reason to regard trumping as a species of causal preemption.
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  15. Kenneth Easwaran, Philip Ehrlich, David Ross, Christopher Hitchcock, Peter Spirtes, Roy T. Cook, Jean-Pierre Marquis, Stewart Shapiro & Royt Cook (2010). The Palmer House Hilton Hotel, Chicago, Illinois February 18–20, 2010. Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 16 (3).
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  16. Helen Beebee, Peter Menzies & Christopher Hitchcock (eds.) (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oxford University Press.
    Causation is a central topic in many areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, history of philosophy, and philosophy ...
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  17. Christopher Hitchcock (2009). Causal Modelling. In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Peter Menzies (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oup Oxford.
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  18. Christopher Hitchcock (2009). Problems for the Conserved Quantity Theory. The Monist 92 (1):72-93.
    The conserved quantity theory of causation aims to analyze causal processes and interactions in terms of conserved quantities. In order to be successful, the theory must correctly distinguish between causal processes and interactions, on the one hand, and pseudoprocesses and mere intersections on the other.Moreover, it must do this while satisfying two further criteria: it must avoid circularity; and the appeal to conserved quantities must not be redundant. I argue that the theory is not successful in meeting these criteria.
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  19. Christopher Hitchcock (2009). Structural Equations and Causation: Six Counterexamples. Philosophical Studies 144 (3):391 - 401.
    Hall [(2007), Philosophical Studies, 132, 109–136] offers a critique of structural equations accounts of actual causation, and then offers a new theory of his own. In this paper, I respond to Hall’s critique, and present some counterexamples to his new theory. These counterexamples are then diagnosed.
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  20. Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe (2009). Cause and Norm. Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.
    Much of the philosophical literature on causation has focused on the concept of actual causation, sometimes called token causation. In particular, it is this notion of actual causation that many philosophical theories of causation have attempted to capture.2 In this paper, we address the question: what purpose does this concept serve? As we shall see in the next section, one does not need this concept for purposes of prediction or rational deliberation. What then could the purpose be? We will argue (...)
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  21. Christopher Hitchcock (2008). Causation. In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
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  22. Christopher Hitchcock, Probabilistic Causation. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    “Probabilistic Causation” designates a group of theories that aim to characterize the relationship between cause and effect using the tools of probability theory. The central idea behind these theories is that causes change the probabilities of their effects. This article traces developments in probabilistic causation, including recent developments in causal modeling. A variety of issues within, and objections to, probabilistic theories of causation will also be discussed.
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  23. Christopher Hitchcock (2007). Prevention, Preemption, and the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Philosophical Review 116 (4):495-532.
  24. Christopher Hitchcock (2007). Three Concepts of Causation. Philosophy Compass 2 (3):508–516.
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  25. Christopher Hitchcock (2007). The Lovely and the Probable. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):433–440.
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  26. Christopher Hitchcock (2007). What Russell Got Right. In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality: Russell's Republic Revisited. Oxford University Press.
     
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  27. Christopher Hitchcock (2007). 4 What's Wrong with Neuron Diagrams? In J. K. Campbell, M. O'Rourke & H. S. Silverstein (eds.), Causation and Explanation. Mit Press. 4--69.
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  28. Christopher Hitchcock (2006). Conceptual Analysis Naturalized: A Metaphilosophical Case Study. Journal of Philosophy 103 (9):427-451.
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  29. Christopher Hitchcock (2005). . . .And Away From a Theory of Explanation Itself. Synthese 143 (1-2):109 - 124.
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  30. A. Baltag, E. C. Banks, L. Boi, G. Bonanno, B. Brogaard, L. K. C. Cheung, D. Costantini, U. Garibaldi, V. Goranko & C. Hitchcock (2004). Armour-Garb, B., 491. Synthese 139 (515).
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  31. C. Hitchcock (2004). Do All and Only Causes Raise the Probabilities of Effects? In J. Collins, E. J. Hall & L. A. Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press.
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  32. Christopher Hitchcock (2004). Beauty and the Bets. Synthese 139 (3):405 - 420.
    In the Sleeping Beauty problem, Beauty is uncertain whether the outcome of a certain coin toss was heads or tails. One argument suggests that her degree of belief in heads should be 1/3, while a second suggests that it should be 1/2. Prima facie, the argument for 1/2 appears to be stronger. I offer a diachronic Dutch Book argument in favor of 1/3. Even for those who are not routinely persuaded by diachronic Dutch Book arguments, this one has some important (...)
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  33. Christopher Hitchcock (ed.) (2004). Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science. Blackwell Pub..
    Showcasing original arguments for well-defined positions, as well as clear and concise statements of sophisticated philosophical views, this volume is an ...
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  34. Christopher Hitchcock (2004). Causal Processes and Interactions: What Are They and What Are They Good For? Philosophy of Science 71 (5):932-941.
    Concerning any object of philosophical analysis, we can ask several questions, including the two posed in the title of this paper. Despite difficulties in formulating a precise criterion to distinguish causal processes from pseudoprocesses, and causal interactions from mere spatiotemporal intersections, I argue that Salmon answered the first of these questions with extraordinary clarity. The second question, by contrast, has received very little attention. I will present two problems: in the first, it seems that Salmon has provided exactly the conceptual (...)
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  35. Christopher Hitchcock (2004). Introduction: What is the Philosophy of Science. In , Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science. Blackwell Pub.. 1--19.
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  36. Christopher Hitchcock (2004). Routes, Processes, and Chance-Lowering Causes. In Phil Dowe & Paul Noordhof (eds.), Cause and Chance: Causation in an Indeterministic World. Routledge.
     
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  37. Christopher Hitchcock & Elliott Sober (2004). Prediction Versus Accommodation and the Risk of Overfitting. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):1-34.
    an observation to formulate a theory, it is no surprise that the resulting theory accurately captures that observation. However, when the theory makes a novel prediction—when it predicts an observation that was not used in its formulation—this seems to provide more substantial confirmation of the theory. This paper presents a new approach to the vexed problem of understanding the epistemic difference between prediction and accommodation. In fact, there are several problems that need to be disentangled; in all of them, the (...)
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  38. Christopher Hitchcock (2003). Of Humean Bondage. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (1):1-25.
    There are many ways of attaching two objects together: for example, they can be connected, linked, tied or bound together; and the connection, link, tie or bind can be made of chain, rope, or cement. Every one of these binding methods has been used as a metaphor for causation. What is the real significance of these metaphors? They express a commitment to a certain way of thinking about causation, summarized in the following thesis: ‘In any concrete situation, there is an (...)
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  39. Christopher Hitchcock (2003). Review: The Mind's Arrows: Bayes Nets and Graphical Causal Models in Psychology. [REVIEW] Mind 112 (446):340-343.
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  40. Christopher R. Hitchcock (ed.) (2003). Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Science. Blackwell.
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  41. Christopher Hitchcock & James Woodward (2003). Explanatory Generalizations, Part II: Plumbing Explanatory Depth. Noûs 37 (2):181–199.
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  42. James Woodward & Christopher Hitchcock (2003). Explanatory Generalizations, Part I: A Counterfactual Account. Noûs 37 (1):1–24.
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  43. C. Hitchcock (2001). Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference. Philosophical Review 110 (4):639-641.
    book reveiw van boek met gelijknamige titel van Judea Pearl.
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  44. Christopher Hitchcock (2001). A Tale of Two Effects. Philosophical Review 110 (3):361-396.
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  45. Christopher Hitchcock (2001). Causal Generalizations and Good Advice. The Monist 84 (2):218-241.
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  46. Christopher Hitchcock (2001). The Intransitivity of Causation Revealed in Equations and Graphs. Journal of Philosophy 98 (6):273-299.
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  47. Paul Bartha & Christopher Hitchcock (1999). No One Knows the Date or the Hour: An Unorthodox Application of Rev. Bayes's Theorem. Philosophy of Science 66 (3):353.
    Carter and Leslie (1996) have argued, using Bayes's theorem, that our being alive now supports the hypothesis of an early 'Doomsday'. Unlike some critics (Eckhardt 1997), we accept their argument in part: given that we exist, our existence now indeed favors 'Doom sooner' over 'Doom later'. The very fact of our existence, however, favors 'Doom later'. In simple cases, a hypothetical approach to the problem of 'old evidence' shows that these two effects cancel out: our existence now yields no information (...)
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  48. Paul Bartha & Christopher Hitchcock (1999). The Shooting-Room Paradox and Conditionalizing on Measurably Challenged Sets. Synthese 118 (3):403-437.
    We provide a solution to the well-known “Shooting-Room” paradox, developed by John Leslie in connection with his Doomsday Argument. In the “Shooting-Room” paradox, the death of an individual is contingent upon an event that has a 1/36 chance of occurring, yet the relative frequency of death in the relevant population is 0.9. There are two intuitively plausible arguments, one concluding that the appropriate subjective probability of death is 1/36, the other that this probability is 0.9. How are these two values (...)
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  49. C. Hitchcock (1999). Contrastive Explanation and the Demons of Determinism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):585-612.
    It it tempting to think that if an outcome had some probability of not occurring, then we cannot explain why that outcome in fact occurred. Despite this intuition, most philosophers of science have come to admit the possibility of indeterministic explanation. Yet some of them continue to hold that if an outcome was not determined, it cannot be explained why that outcome rather than some other occurred. I argue that this is an untenable compromise: if indeterministic explanation is possible, then (...)
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  50. Christopher Hitchcock (1999). Exactness and Pseudoexactness in Historical Linguistics. Topoi 18 (2):127-139.
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  51. Christopher Hitchcock (1998). The Common Cause Principle in Historical Linguistics. Philosophy of Science 65 (3):425-447.
    Despite the platitude that analytic philosophy is deeply concerned with language, philosophers of science have paid little attention to methodological issues that arise within historical linguistics. I broach this topic by arguing that many inferences in historical linguistics conform to Reichenbach's common cause principle (CCP). Although the scope of CCP is narrower than many have thought, inferences about the genealogies of languages are particularly apt for reconstruction using CCP. Quantitative approaches to language comparison are readily understood as methods for detecting (...)
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  52. Christopher Hitchcock (1996). A Probabilistic Theory of Second Order Causation. Erkenntnis 44 (3):369 - 377.
    Larry Wright and others have advanced causal accounts of functional explanation, designed to alleviate fears about the legitimacy of such explanations. These analyses take functional explanations to describe second order causal relations. These second order relations are conceptually puzzling. I present an account of second order causation from within the framework of Eells' probabilistic theory of causation; the account makes use of the population-relativity of causation that is built into this theory.
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  53. Mitchell S. Green & Christopher R. Hitchcock (1994). Reflections on Reflection: Van Fraassen on Belief. Synthese 98 (2):297 - 324.
    In Belief and the Will, van Fraassen employed a diachronic Dutch Book argument to support a counterintuitive principle called Reflection. There and subsequently van Fraassen has put forth Reflection as a linchpin for his views in epistemology and the philosophy of science, and for the voluntarism (first-person reports of subjective probability are undertakings of commitments) that he espouses as an alternative to descriptivism (first-person reports of subjective probability are merely self-descriptions). Christensen and others have attacked Reflection, taking it to have (...)
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  54. Christopher Hitchcock (1992). Urbach on the Laws of Nature. Analysis 52 (2):61 - 64.
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  55. Christopher R. Hitchcock (1992). Discussion. Journal of Philosophical Research 17:215-223.
    Gerald Massey has constructed translation manuals for the purposes of illustrating Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis. Robert Kirk has argued that Massey’s manuals do not live up to their billing. In this note, I will present Massey’s manuals and defend them against Kirk’s objections. The implications for Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis will then be briefly discussed.
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