The reduction of causal processes

Synthese 131 (1):99 - 128 (2002)
The principle that causes always render their effects more likely is fundamental to the enterprise of reducing facts of causation to facts about (objective) chances. This reductionist enterprise faces famous difficulties in accommodating common-sense intuitions about causal processes, if it insists on cashing out causal processes in terms of streams of events in which every event that belongs to the stream is a cause of the adjoining event downstream of it. I shall propose modifications to this way of cashing out causal processes, still well within the reductionist faith. These modifications will allow the reductionist to handle processes successfully, on the assumption that the reductionist proposal is itself otherwise satisfactory. I shall then argue that the reductionist enterprise lies squarely behind the Theory of Relativity, and so has all the confirmatory weight of Relativity behind it. However this is not all good news for reductionists. For throughout I shall simply assume that the reductionist proposal, to the effect that causes are just chance-raisers, is correct. AndI shall sidestep problems with that proposal as such. And so I shall show that, if in the end we find the reductionist proposal unsatisfactory, it cannot be on grounds of its treatment of causal processes as such. Thus, while I shall argue that causal processes pose no extra trouble for redutionists, I shall be making a case that all the action between reductionists and their opponents should be focused upon the proposal to reduce the two-term causal relation itself to relations amongst probabilities.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.2307/20117236
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