David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:181 - 193 (1982)
This paper argues that if the world is irreducibly stochastic, then both Salmon's S-R model of explanation and Fetzer's C-R model of explanation have the following undesirable consequence: the objective probability (associated with the model's relevance condition) of any actual macro-event is either undefined or else, if defined, it equals one--so that the event is not even a candidate for a probabilistic explanation. This result follows from the temporal ambiguity of ontic probability in an irreducibly stochastic world. It is argued further that an analogous difficulty faces those theories of probabilistic causality which depend upon the notions of contributing and counteracting causes. Because of the problem of temporal ambiguity, it is not possible to objectively label a particular event as a contributing (or a counteracting) cause of some subsequent event. The argument is carried through in detail for a recent theory of probabilistic causality proposed by Paul Humphreys.
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