This paper explores some issues having to do with the perception of causation. It discusses the role that phenomena that that are associated with causal perception, such as Michottean launching interactions, play within philosophical accounts of causation and also speculates on their possible role in development.
This paper defends an interventionist treatment of mechanisms and contrasts this with Waskan (forthcoming). Interventionism embodies a difference-making conception of causation. I contrast such conceptions with geometrical/mechanical or “actualist” conceptions, associating Waskan’s proposals with the latter. It is argued that geometrical/mechanical conceptions of causation cannot replace difference-making conceptions in characterizing the behavior of mechanisms, but that some of the intuitions behind the geometrical/mechanical approach can be captured by thinking in terms of spatio-temporally organized difference-making information.
This paper provides a restatement and defense of the data/ phenomena distinction introduced by Jim Bogen and me several decades ago (e.g., Bogen and Woodward, The Philosophical Review, 303–352, 1988). Additional motivation for the distinction is introduced, ideas surrounding the distinction are clarified, and an attempt is made to respond to several criticisms.
Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
This paper attempts to elucidate three characteristics of causal relationships that are important in biological contexts. Stability has to do with whether a causal relationship continues to hold under changes in background conditions. Proportionality has to do with whether changes in the state of the cause “line up” in the right way with changes in the state of the effect and with whether the cause and effect are characterized in a way that contains irrelevant detail. Specificity is connected both to (...) David Lewis’ notion of “influence” and also with the extent to which a causal relation approximates to the ideal of one cause–one effect. Interrelations among these notions and their possible biological significance are also discussed. (shrink)
This paper makes use of recent empirical results, mainly from experimental economics, to expore the conditions under which people will cooperate and to assess competing explantions of this cooperation. It is argued that the evidence supports the claim that people differ in type, with some being conditional cooperators and others being motivated by more or less sophisticated forms of self-interest. Stable cooperation requires, among other things, rules and institutions that protect conditional cooperators from myopically self-interested types. Additional empirical features of (...) the behavior of conditional cooperators also imply that rules and institutions are required to produce stable cooperation. (shrink)
This paper explores some issues concerning the nature and structure of causal explanation in psychiatry and psychology from the point of view of the “interventionist” theory defended in my book, Making Things Happen. Among the issues is explored is the extent to which candidate causal explanations involving “upper level” or relatively coarse-grained or macroscopic variables such as mental/psychological states (e.g. highly self critical beliefs or low self esteem) or environmental factors (e.g. parental abuse) compete with explanations that instead appeal to (...) underlying, “lower level” or more fine gained neural, genetic, or biochemical mechanisms. (shrink)
Manipulablity theories of causation, according to which causes are to be regarded as handles or devices for manipulating effects, have considerable intuitive appeal and are popular among social scientists and statisticians. This article surveys several prominent versions of such theories advocated by philosophers, and the many difficulties they face. Philosophical statements of the manipulationist approach are generally reductionist in aspiration and assign a central role to human action. These contrast with recent discussions employing a broadly manipulationist framework for understanding causation, (...) such as those due to the computer scientist Judea Pearl and others, which are non-reductionist and rely instead on the notion of an intervention. This is simply an appropriately exogenous causal process; it has no essential connection with human action. This interventionist framework manages to avoid at least some of these difficulties faced by traditional philosophical versions of the manipulability theory and helps to clarify the content of causal claims. (shrink)
This paper discusses some issues concerning the relationship between the mental and the physical, including the so-called causal exclusion argument, within the framework of a broadly interventionist approach to causation.
Counterfactual theories of causation of the sort presented in Mackie, 1974, and Lewis, 1973 are a familiar part of the philosophical landscape. Such theories are typically advanced primarily as accounts of the metaphysics of causation. But they also raise empirical psychological issues concerning the processes and representations that underlie human causal reasoning. For example, do human subjects internally represent causal claims in terms of counterfactual judgments and when they engage in causal reasoning, does this involves reasoning about counterfactual claims? This (...) paper explores several such issues from a broadly interventionist perspective. (shrink)
This article explores some issues having to do with the use of experimental results from one‐shot games to reach conclusions about the existence of social preferences that are taken to figure in the explanation of cooperation in repeated interactions in real life. †To contact the author, please write to: Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the relationship between, on the one hand, the sorts of causal claims found in the special sciences (and in common sense) and, on the other hand, the world as described by physics? A standard picture goes like this: the fundamental laws of physics are causal laws in the sense that they can be interpreted as telling us that realizations of one set of physical factors or properties “causes” realizations of other properties. Causal claims in the special sciences are (...) then true (to the extent that they are) in virtue of “instantiating” these underlying causal laws; as it is often put, the latter serve as “truth-makers” for the former. The picture is thus one according to which the notion of cause, as it occurs in the special sciences, is reflected or “grounded” in a fairly straightforward and transparent way in a similar notion that occurs in fundamental physics. This paper explores some alternatives to this picture. (shrink)
This article surveys some of the philosophical issues raised by recent experimental work in economics on so-called social preferences. This work raises a number of fascinating methodological and interpretive issues that are of central importance both to economics and to social and political philosophy.
We use the phrase "moral intuition" to describe the appearance in consciousness of moral judgments or assessments without any awareness of having gone through a conscious reasoning process that produces this assessment. This paper investigates the neural substrates of moral intuition. We propose that moral intuitions are part of a larger set of social intuitions that guide us through complex, highly uncertain and rapidly changing social interactions. Such intuitions are shaped by learning. The neural substrates for moral intuition include fronto-insular, (...) cingulate, and orbito-frontal cortices and associated subcortical structure such as the septum, basil ganglia and amygdala. Understanding the role of these structures undercuts many philosophical doctrines concerning the status of moral intuitions, but vindicates the claim that they can sometimes play a legitimate role in moral decision-making. (shrink)
It is widely believed that robustness (of inferences, measurements, models, phenomena and relationships discovered in empirical investigation etc.) is a Good Thing. However, there are many different notions of robustness. These often differ both in their normative credentials and in the conditions that warrant their deployment. Failure to distinguish among these notions can result in the uncritical transfer of considerations which support one notion to contexts in which another notion is being deployed. This paper surveys several different notions of robustness (...) and tries to identify why (and in what circumstances) each is valuable or appealing. I begin by discussing the notion of robustness addressed in Aldrich's paper (robustness as insensitivity of the results of inference to alternative specifications) and then discuss how this relates to robustness of derivations, robustness of measurement results, and robustness as a mark of casual as opposed to (merely) correlational relationships. (shrink)
'IRS' is our term for the logical empiricist idea that the best way to understand the epistemic bearing of observational evidence on scientific theories is to model it in terms of Inferential Relations among Sentences representing the evidence, and sentences representing hypotheses the evidence is used to evaluate. Developing ideas from our earlier work, including 'Saving the Phenomena'(Phil Review 97, 1988, p.303-52 )we argue that the bearing of observational evidence on theory depends upon causal connections and error characteristics of the (...) processes by which data is produced and used to detect features of phenomena. Neither of these depends upon, or is greatly illuminated by a consideration of, formal relations among observation and theoretical sentences or propositions. By taking causal structures and error characteristics, you too can evade the IRS. In doing so, you can gain insight into Hempel’s raven paradox, theory loading, and other issues from the standard philosophical literature on confirmation theory. (shrink)
expose some gaps and difficulties in the argument for the causal Markov condition in our essay ‘Independence, Invariance and the Causal Markov Condition’ (), and we are grateful for the opportunity to reformulate our position. In particular, Cartwright disagrees vigorously with many of the theses we advance about the connection between causation and manipulation. Although we are not persuaded by some of her criticisms, we shall confine ourselves to showing how our central argument can be reconstructed and to casting doubt (...) on Cartwright's claim that the causal Markov condition typically fails when there are indeterministic by-products. Why believe the causal Markov condition? Causation and manipulation The argument Indeterministic by-products and the causal Markov condition The chemical factory counterexample and PM2 Conclusions: causation and manipulability. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between a manipulability conception of causation and the causal Markov condition (CM). We argue that violations of CM also violate widely shared expectations—implicit in the manipulability conception—having to do with the absence of spontaneous correlations. They also violate expectations concerning the connection between independence or dependence relationships in the presence and absence of interventions.
This article defends the use of interventionist counterfactuals to elucidate causal and explanatory claims against criticisms advanced by James Bogen and Peter Machamer. Against Bogen, I argue that counterfactual claims concerning what would happen under interventions are meaningful and have determinate truth values, even in a deterministic world. I also argue, against both Machamer and Bogen, that we need to appeal to counterfactuals to capture the notions like causal relevance and causal mechanism. Contrary to what both authors suppose, counterfactuals are (...) not "unscientific" - a substantial tradition within statistics and the causal modelling literature makes heavy use of them. (shrink)
Woodward's long awaited book is an attempt to construct a comprehensive account of causation explanation that applies to a wide variety of causal and explanatory claims in different areas of science and everyday life. The book engages some of the relevant literature from other disciplines, as Woodward weaves together examples, counterexamples, criticisms, defenses, objections, and replies into a convincing defense of the core of his theory, which is that we can analyze causation by appeal to the notion of manipulation.
In this paper I criticize the commonly accepted idea that the generalizations of the special sciences should be construed as ceteris paribus laws. This idea rests on mistaken assumptions about the role of laws in explanation and their relation to causal claims. Moreover, the major proposals in the literature for the analysis of ceteris paribus laws are, on their own terms, complete failures. I sketch a more adequate alternative account of the content of causal generalizations in the special sciences which (...) I argue should replace the ceteris paribus conception. (shrink)
This paper develops an account of explanation in biology which does not involve appeal to laws of nature, at least as traditionally conceived. Explanatory generalizations in biology must satisfy a requirement that I call invariance, but need not satisfy most of the other standard criteria for lawfulness. Once this point is recognized, there is little motivation for regarding such generalizations as laws of nature. Some of the differences between invariance and the related notions of stability and resiliency, due respectively to (...) Sandra Mitchell and Brian Skyrms, are explored. (shrink)
This paper describes an alternative to the common view that explanation in the special sciences involves subsumption under laws. According to this alternative, whether or not a generalization can be used to explain has to do with whether it is invariant rather than with whether it is lawful. A generalization is invariant if it is stable or robust in the sense that it would continue to hold under a relevant if it is stable or robust in the sense that it (...) would continue to hold under a relevant class of changes. Unlike lawfulness, invariance comes in degrees and has other features that are well suited to capture the characteristics of explanatory generalizations in the special sciences. For example, a generalization can be invariant even if it has exceptions or holds only over a limited spatio-temporal interval. The notion of invariance can be used to resolve a number of dilemmas that arise in standard treatments of explanatory generalizations in the special sciences. (shrink)
This paper explores how data serve as evidence for phenomena. In contrast to standard philosophical models which invite us to think of evidential relationships as logical relationships, I argue that evidential relationships in the context of data-to-phenomena reasoning are empirical relationships that depend on holding the right sort of pattern of counterfactual dependence between the data and the conclusions investigators reach on the phenomena themselves.
This essay explains what the Causal Markov Condition says and defends the condition from the many criticisms that have been launched against it. Although we are skeptical about some of the applications of the Causal Markov Condition, we argue that it is implicit in the view that causes can be used to manipulate their effects and that it cannot be surrendered without surrendering this view of causation.
This paper defends a counterfactual account of explanation, according to which successful explanation requires tracing patterns of counterfactual dependence of a special sort, involving what I call active counterfactuals. Explanations having this feature must appeal to generalizations that are invariant--stable under certain sorts of changes. These ideas are illustrated by examples drawn from physics and econometrics.
Standard philosophical discussions of theory-ladeness assume that observational evidence consists of perceptual outputs (or reports of such outputs) that are sentential or propositional in structure. Theory-ladeness is conceptualized as having to do with logical or semantical relationships between such outputs or reports and background theories held by observers. Using the recent debate between Fodor and Churchland as a point of departure, we propose an alternative picture in which much of what serves as evidence in science is not perceptual outputs or (...) reports of such outputs and is not sentential in structure. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that laws express relationships between properties or universals as defended in Michael Tooley's recent book Causation: A Realist Approach. I suggest that the most plausible version of realism will take a different form than that advocated by Tooley. According to this alternative, laws are grounded in facts about the capacities and powers of particular systems, rather than facts about relations between universals. The notion of lawfulness is linked to the notion of invariance, rather than to (...) the metaphysical notion of a necessary connection. (shrink)
This paper explores, in a rather schematic way, some issues having to do with the conception of causation and explanation implicit in regression analysis. I argue that (a) regression analysis does not yield lawlike generalizations but rather claims about causal connections in particular populations and that (b) regression analyses are not plausibly viewed as part of a neo-Humean program of analyzing causal claims in terms of claims about patterns of statistical association. I also argue that (c) the conception of explanation (...) implicit in regression analysis is deductive and involves the exhibition of a pattern of counterfactual dependence between mean values of the independent and dependent variables. (shrink)
This paper is an assessment of an attempt, by James Greeno, to measure the explanatory power of statistical theories by means of the notion of transmitted information (It). It is argued that It has certain features that are inappropriate in a measure of explanatory power. In particular, given a statistical theory T with explanans variables St and explanandum variables Mj, it is argued that no plausible measure of explanatory power should depend on the probability P(Si) of occurrence of initial conditions (...) in the systems to which T applies or the magnitudes of the conditional probabilities P(Mj/Si), in the manner in which Ir does. (shrink)
This paper examines a recent attempt by Evan Jobe to account for the asymmetric character of many scientific explanations. It is argued that a purported counterexample to Jobe's account, from Clark Glymour, is inconclusive, but that the account faces independent objections. It is also suggested, contrary to Jobe, that the explanatory relation is not always asymmetric. Sometimes a singular sentence C can figure in a DN derivation of another singular sentence E and E can also figure in a DN derivation (...) of C. Yet while we are inclined to regard the first derivation as an explanation of E, we are not inclined to regard the second derivation as an explanation of C. As Sylvain Bromberger pointed out in a now classic article (1966), one can explain the period of a pendulum by reference to its length and yet, although one can give a DN derivation of the length of a pendulum by reference to its period, this derivation does not seem to represent an explanation. Evan Jobe has recently offered an interesting account of such explanatory asymmetries and Clark Glymour has in turn proposed a counterexample which seems to show that Jobe's account is defective. The aim of this paper is two-fold. I shall attempt to show that (a) Glymour's proposed counterexample can be rejected on the grounds that it violates an independently plausible restriction on the role that equalities may play in DN explanation, and that (b) although Glymour's counterexample can be avoided in this way, Jobe's account is defective in several other respects. (shrink)
We examine critically the interdependence between science and philosophy which Sklar asserts in Space, Time, and Spacetime. We find that such a view makes it difficult to criticize the ideas of science, like that of absolute space, on their own merits, without importing extraneous philosophical associations. It also impedes appreciation of the importance, and subtlety, of explanation in scientific theory. As a result, particular explanations, such as the one Newton offered of his bucket experiment, are dismissed facilely-- indeed, all geometric (...) explanation appears illegitimate--, and such general attitudes as conventionalism appear to lack rationale. (shrink)
Issues concerning scientific explanation have been a focus of philosophical attention from Pre- Socratic times through the modern period. However, recent discussion really begins with the development of the Deductive-Nomological (DN) model. This model has had many advocates (including Popper 1935, 1959, Braithwaite 1953, Gardiner, 1959, Nagel 1961) but unquestionably the most detailed and influential statement is due to Carl Hempel (Hempel 1942, 1965, and Hempel & Oppenheim 1948). These papers and the reaction to them have structured subsequent discussion concerning (...) scientific explanation to an extraordinary degree. After some general remarks by way of background and orientation (Section 1), this entry describes the DN model and its extensions, and then turns to some well-known objections (Section 2). It next describes a variety of subsequent attempts to develop alternative models of explanation, including Wesley Salmon's Statistical Relevance (Section 3) and Causal Mechanical (Section 4) models and the Unificationist models due to Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher (Section 5). Section 6 provides a summary and discusses directions for future work. (shrink)