The Principle of the Common Cause, the Causal Markov Condition, and Quantum Mechanics: Comments on Cartwright
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Luc Bovens, Carl Hoefer & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science. Routledge. 242-262 (2008)
Nancy Cartwright believes that we live in a Dappled World– a world in which theories, principles, and methods applicable in one domain may be inapplicable in others; in which there are no universal principles. One of the targets of Cartwright’s arguments for this conclusion is the Causal Markov condition, a condition which has been proposed as a universal condition on causal structures.1 The Causal Markov condition, Cartwright argues, is applicable only in a limited domain of special cases, and thus cannot be used as a universal principle in causal discovery. I have no dispute with any of these claims here. Rather, I wish to argue for a very limited thesis: that the Causal Markov condition is applicable in the specific domain of microscopic quantum mechanical systems; further, that the condition can fruitfully be applied to the much discussed EPR setup. This is perhaps a surprising conclusion, for it is precisely in this domain that Cartwright’s arguments against the Causal Markov condition have been considered to be the most successful
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