Graduate studies at Western
Philosophy of Science 51 (2):212-241 (1984)
|Abstract||Russell (1948), Reichenbach (1956), and Salmon (1975, 1979) have argued that a fundamental principle of science and common sense is that "matching" events should not be chalked up to coincidence, but should be explained by postulating a common cause. Reichenbach and Salmon provided this intuitive idea with a probabilistic formulation, which Salmon used to argue for a version of scientific realism. Van Fraassen (1980, 1982) showed that the principle, so construed, runs afoul of certain results in quantum mechanics. In this paper a new formulation of the principle is offered that emerges from its use in evolutionary theory. This characterization identifies fairly general conditions in which postulating common causes will be more explanatory than postulating separate causes|
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