David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (4):787-795 (2012)
According to James Woodward’s influential interventionist account of causation, X is a cause of Y iff, roughly, there is a possible intervention on X that changes Y. Woodward requires that interventions be merely logically possible. I will argue for two claims against this modal character of interventions: First, merely logically possible interventions are dispensable for the semantic project of providing an account of the meaning of causal statements. If interventions are indeed dispensable, the interventionist theory collapses into (some sort of) a counterfactual theory of causation. Thus, the interventionist theory is not tenable as a theory of causation in its own right. Second, if one maintains that merely logically possible interventions are indispensable, then interventions with this modal character lead to the fatal result that interventionist counterfactuals are evaluated inadequately. Consequently, interventionists offer an inadequate theory of causation. I suggest that if we are concerned with explicating causal concepts and stating the truth-conditions of causal claims we best get rid of Woodwardian interventions.
|Keywords||Interventionist theory of causation Intervention Counterfactuals Counterfactual theories of causation|
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1979). Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow. Noûs 13 (4):455-476.
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James Woodward & Christopher Hitchcock (2003). Explanatory Generalizations, Part I: A Counterfactual Account. Noûs 37 (1):1–24.
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Citations of this work BETA
James Woodward (2015). Methodology, Ontology, and Interventionism. Synthese 192 (11):3577-3599.
Marco Buzzoni (2015). The Agency Theory of Causality, Anthropomorphism, and Simultaneity. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (4):375-395.
Wolfgang Pietsch (forthcoming). The Causal Nature of Modeling with Big Data. Philosophy and Technology:1-35.
Mauro Dorato (forthcoming). Dynamical Versus Structural Explanations in Scientific Revolutions. Synthese.
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