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  1. How Interventionist Accounts of Causation Work in Experimental Practice and Why There is No Need to Worry About Supervenience.Tudor M. Baetu - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    It has been argued that supervenience generates unavoidable confounding problems for interventionist accounts of causation, to the point that we must choose between interventionism and supervenience. According to one solution, the dilemma can be defused by excluding non-causal determinants of an outcome as potential confounders. I argue that this solution undermines the methodological validity of causal tests. Moreover, we don’t have to choose between intervention-ism and supervenience in the first place. Some confounding problems are effectively circumvented by experimental designs routinely (...)
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  2. Why Incompatibilism About Mental Causation is Incompatible with Non-Reductive Physicalism.Jonas Christensen & Umut Baysan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.
    The exclusion problem is meant to show that non-reductive physicalism leads to epiphenomenalism: if mental properties are not identical with physical properties, then they are not causally efficacious. Defenders of a difference-making account of causation suggest that the exclusion problem can be solved because mental properties can be difference-making causes of physical effects. Here, we focus on what we dub an incompatibilist implementation of this general strategy and argue against it from a non-reductive physicalist perspective. Specifically, we argue that incompatibilism (...)
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  3. Review of James Woodward, Making Things Happen. [REVIEW]H. De Regt - forthcoming - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  4. Causation and the Problem of Disagreement.Enno Fischer - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    This paper presents a new argument for incorporating a distinction between default and deviant values into the formalism of causal models. The argument is based on considerations about how causal reasoners should represent disagreement over causes and it is defended against an objection that has been raised against earlier arguments for defaults.
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  5. Historical Counterfactuals, Transition Periods, and the Constraints on Imagination.Catherine Greene - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science:000-000.
    Counterfactual analysis is an interesting feature of thought experiments, because it requires the imagination of alternative states of the world (see also publications by Fearon, Lebow and Stein, Reiss, and Tetlock and Belkin, who suggest the same). In historical analysis, the use of imagination is often the focus of criticisms of such counterfactual analysis. In this article, I consider three strategies for constraining imagination: making limited counterfactual changes, limiting counterfactual changes to the decisions of important figures, and using evidence to (...)
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  6. What Caused the Bhopal Gas Tragedy? The Philosophical Importance of Causal and Pragmatic Details.Brian J. Hanley - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    In cases where many causes together bring about an effect, it is common to select some as particularly important. Philosophers since Mill have been pessimistic about analyzing this reasoning due its variability and the multifarious causal and pragmatic details of how it works. I argue Mill was right to think these details matter, but wrong that they preclude philosophical analysis of causal selection. I show that analyzing the pragmatic details of scientific debates about the important causes of the Bhopal Gas (...)
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  7. Causal Explanation and the Periodic Table.Lauren N. Ross - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (1):79-103.
    The periodic table represents and organizes all known chemical elements on the basis of their properties. While the importance of this table in chemistry is uncontroversial, the role that it plays in scientific reasoning remains heavily disputed. Many philosophers deny the explanatory role of the table and insist that it is “merely” classificatory The structure of scientific theories, University of Illinois Press, Illinois, 1977; Scerri in Erkenntnis 47:229–243, 1997). In particular, it has been claimed that the table does not figure (...)
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  8. Antireductionist Interventionism.Reuben Stern & Benjamin Eva - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Kim’s causal exclusion argument purports to demonstrate that the non-reductive physicalist must treat mental properties (and macro-level properties in general) as causally inert. A number of authors have attempted to resist Kim’s conclusion by utilizing the conceptual resources of Woodward’s (2005) interventionist conception of causation. The viability of these responses has been challenged by Gebharter (2017a), who argues that the causal exclusion argument is vindicated by the theory of causal Bayesian networks (CBNs). Since the interventionist conception of causation relies crucially (...)
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  9. (B. 1939) Are Professors at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. Woodward Teaches Philosophy; Goodstein Teaches Physics. Woodward has Served Caltech as Executive Officer. [REVIEW]James Woodward - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics: Divergence and Convergence.
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  10. A Sideways Look at Faithfulness for Quantum Correlations.Peter W. Evans - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (1):28-42.
    Despite attempts to apply causal modeling techniques to quantum systems, Wood and Spekkens argue that any causal model purporting to explain quantum correlations must be fine tuned; it must violate the assumption of faithfulness. This paper is an attempt to undermine the reasonableness of the assumption of faithfulness in the quantum context. Employing a symmetry relation between an entangled quantum system and a “sideways” quantum system consisting of a single photon passing sequentially through two polarizers, I argue that Wood and (...)
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  11. The Causal Theory of Knowledge Revisited: An Interventionist Approach.Job Grefte & Alexander Gebharter - 2021 - Ratio.
    Goldman (1967) proposed that a subject s knows p if and only if p is appropriately causally connected to s’s believing p. He later on abandoned this theory (Goldman, 1976). The main objection to the theory is that the causal connection required by Goldman is compatible with certain problematic forms of luck. In this paper we argue that Goldman’s causal theory of knowledge can overcome the luck problem if causation is understood along interventionist lines. We also show that the modified (...)
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  12. Explanatory Abstraction and the Goldilocks Problem: Interventionism Gets Things Just Right.Thomas Blanchard - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):633-663.
    Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall ([2016]), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately abstract explanations optimally subserve what interventionists regard as the goal of explanation, namely identifying possible interventions that would have changed the explanandum.
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  13. Causation in Psychology.John Campbell - 2020 - Harvard University Press.
  14. Causal Discovery and the Problem of Psychological Interventions.Markus I. Eronen - 2020 - New Ideas in Psychology 59:100785.
    Finding causes is a central goal in psychological research. In this paper, I argue based on the interventionist approach to causal discovery that the search for psychological causes faces great obstacles. Psychological interventions are likely to be fat-handed: they change several variables simultaneously, and it is not known to what extent such interventions give leverage for causal inference. Moreover, due to problems of measurement, the degree to which an intervention was fat-handed, or more generally, what the intervention in fact did, (...)
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  15. Enactivism, Causality, and Therapy.Shaun Gallagher - 2020 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 27 (1):27-28.
    In 1937, John Dewey delivered a lecture to the College of Physicians in Saint Louis. His clear message was that in the practice of medicine it does not suffice for physicians to treat just the body, or to look to just the body for the mechanism of disease. Emphasizing the relational nature of organism-environment, he argued that the physician must treat the whole patient and must therefore consider the environment of the patient. It makes no sense, he suggested, to provide (...)
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  16. Interventionism and Mental Surgery.Alex Kaiserman - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (4):919-935.
    John Campbell has claimed that the interventionist account of causation must be amended if it is to be applied to causation in psychology. The problem, he argues, is that it follows from the so-called ‘surgical’ constraint that intervening on psychological states requires the suspension of the agent’s rational autonomy. In this paper, I argue that the problem Campbell identifies is in fact an instance of a wider problem for interventionism, extending beyond psychology, which I call the problem of ‘abrupt transitions’. (...)
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  17. Binding Specificity and Causal Selection in Drug Design.Oliver M. Lean - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (1):70-90.
    Binding specificity is a centrally important concept in molecular biology, yet it has received little philosophical attention. Here I aim to remedy this by analyzing binding specificity as a causal property. I focus on the concept’s role in drug design, where it is highly prized and hence directly studied. From a causal perspective, understanding why binding specificity is a valuable property of drugs contributes to an understanding of causal selection—of how and why scientists distinguish between causes, not just causes from (...)
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  18. Reducing Uncertainty: Understanding the Information-Theoretic Origins of Consciousness.Garrett Mindt - 2020 - Dissertation, Central European University
    Ever since the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1996, 1995) first entered the scene in the debate over consciousness many have taken it to show the limitations of a scientific or naturalist explanation of consciousness. The hard problem is the problem of explaining why there is any experience associated with certain physical processes, that is, why there is anything it is like associated with such physical processes? The character of one’s experience doesn’t seem to be entailed by physical processes and (...)
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  19. COVID-19 and Control: An Essay From a Pragmatic Perspective on Science.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2020 - Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how different (even conflicting) interventions on nature can be scientifically justified: interventions can be deemed "effective" only in relation to specific target variables - in relation to variables the values of which we seek to control. Choosing the "right" target variables, in turn, depends on our values and pragmatic aims. This essay is based on a presentation given at the symposium "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic", organised at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies on (...)
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  20. Desperately Seeking Sourcehood.Hannah Tierney & David Glick - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):953-970.
    In a recent essay, Deery and Nahmias :1255–1276, 2017) utilize interventionism about causation to develop an account of causal sourcehood in order to defend compatibilism about free will and moral responsibility from manipulation arguments. In this paper, we criticize Deery and Nahmias’s analysis of sourcehood by drawing a distinction between two forms of causal invariance that can come into conflict on their account. We conclude that any attempt to resolve this conflict will either result in counterintuitive attributions of moral responsibility (...)
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  21. Interventionist Explanation and the Problem of Single Variable Boundary Constraints.Isaac Wilhelm - 2020 - Noûs 54 (4):945-955.
    According to Interventionism, explanations cite invariant relations which hold among multiple variables. Interventionism incorrectly implies, however, that many common scientific explanations—which cite single‐variable boundary constraints—are not actually explanatory. So I propose a different account of explanation, similar in spirit to Interventionism, which gets those cases of scientific explanation right.
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  22. Intervention, Fixation, and Supervenient Causation.Lei Zhong - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (6):293-314.
    A growing number of philosophers are bringing interventionism into the field of supervenient causation. Many argue that interventionist supervenient causation is exempted from the fixability condition. However, this approach looks ad hoc, inconsistent with the general interventionist requirement on fixation. Moreover, it leads to false judgments about the causal efficacy of supervenient/subvenient properties. This article aims to develop a novel interventionist account of supervenient causation that respects the fixability requirement. The treatment of intervention and fixation that I propose can accommodate (...)
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  23. Establishing Backward Causation on Empirical Grounds: An Interventionist Approach.Alexander Gebharter, Dennis Graemer & Frenzis H. Scheffels - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):129-138.
    We propose an analysis of backward causation in terms of interventionism that can avoid several problems typically associated with backward causation. Its main advantage over other accounts is that it allows for reducing the problematic task of supporting backward causal claims to the unproblematic task of finding evidence for several ordinary forward directed causal hypotheses.
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  24. Old Problems for the Agency Theory of Causal Discourse.Shyane Siriwardena - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (4):939-951.
    Price’s :157–176, 1991; 44:187–203, 1993 ; 2007, 2017) agency theory of causation has takes itself to provide a use-theory of our causal discourse. The theory’s aim is to describe the rules implicit to our linguistic behaviour when we describe things in causal terms. According to this theory, the rules governing our use of the concept of causation are based on our perspective as agents and our associated experiences of manipulating events. I argue that the observed relation between agency and our (...)
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  25. Taking Control : The Role of Manipulation in Theories of Causation.Henning Strandin - 2019 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    Causation has always been a philosophically controversial subject matter. While David Hume’s empiricist account of causation has been the dominant influence in analytic philosophy and science during modern times, a minority view has instead connected causation essentially to agency and manipulation. A related approach has for the first time gained widespread popularity in recent years, due to new powerful theories of causal inference in science that are based in a technical notion of intervention, and James Woodward’s closely connected interventionist theory (...)
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  26. Causal After All : A Model of Mental Causation for Dualists.Bram Vaassen - 2019 - Dissertation, Umeå University
    In this dissertation, I develop and defend a model of causation that allows for dualist mental causation in worlds where the physical domain is physically complete. In Part I, I present the dualist ontology that will be assumed throughout the thesis and identify two challenges for models of mental causation within such an ontology: the exclusion worry and the common cause worry. I also argue that a proper response to these challenges requires a thoroughly lightweight account of causation, i.e. an (...)
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  27. Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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  28. Intervening on the Causal Exclusion Problem for Integrated Information Theory.Matthew Baxendale & Garrett Mindt - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (2):331-351.
    In this paper, we examine the causal framework within which integrated information theory of consciousness makes it claims. We argue that, in its current formulation, IIT is threatened by the causal exclusion problem. Some proponents of IIT have attempted to thwart the causal exclusion problem by arguing that IIT has the resources to demonstrate genuine causal emergence at macro scales. In contrast, we argue that their proposed solution to the problem is damagingly circular as a result of inter-defining information and (...)
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  29. Stability, Breadth and Guidance.Thomas Blanchard, Nadya Vasilyeva & Tania Lombrozo - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2263-2283.
    Much recent work on explanation in the interventionist tradition emphasizes the explanatory value of stable causal generalizations—i.e., causal generalizations that remain true in a wide range of background circumstances. We argue that two separate explanatory virtues are lumped together under the heading of `stability’. We call these two virtues breadth and guidance respectively. In our view, these two virtues are importantly distinct, but this fact is neglected or at least under-appreciated in the literature on stability. We argue that an adequate (...)
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  30. Alexander Gebharter: Causal Nets, Interventionism, and Mechanisms. Philosophical Foundations and Applications.Lorenzo Casini - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (3):481-485.
  31. Mechanisms and the Metaphysics of Causation.Lucas J. Matthews & James Tabery - 2018 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge.
  32. Woodward and Variable Relativity.Georgie Statham - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):885-902.
    The aim of this paper is to determine whether and to what extent Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation is variable relative. In an influential review, Strevens has accused Woodward’s account of a damaging form of variable relativity, according to which obviously false causal claims can be made true by choosing a depleted variable set. Following McCain, I show that Strevens’ objection doesn’t succeed. However, Woodward also wants to avoid another kind of variable relativity, according to which it can be true (...)
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  33. Stable Causal Relationships Are Better Causal Relationships.Nadya Vasilyeva, Thomas Blanchard & Tania Lombrozo - 2018 - Cognitive Science 42 (4):1265-1296.
    We report three experiments investigating whether people’s judgments about causal relationships are sensitive to the robustness or stability of such relationships across a range of background circumstances. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that people are more willing to endorse causal and explanatory claims based on stable (as opposed to unstable) relationships, even when the overall causal strength of the relationship is held constant. In Experiment 2, we show that this effect is not driven by a causal generalization’s actual scope of (...)
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  34. Patterns, Information, and Causation.Holly Andersen - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (11):592-622.
    This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree (...)
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  35. Defeating Manipulation Arguments: Interventionist Causation and Compatibilist Sourcehood.Oisín Deery & Eddy Nahmias - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1255-1276.
    We use recent interventionist theories of causation to develop a compatibilist account of causal sourcehood, which provides a response to Manipulation Arguments for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Our account explains the difference between manipulation and determinism, against the claim of Manipulation Arguments that there is no relevant difference. Interventionism allows us to see that causal determinism does not mean that variables outside of the agent causally explain her actions better than variables within the agent, whereas the causal (...)
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  36. Causal Nets, Interventionism, and Mechanisms: Philosophical Foundations and Applications.Alexander Gebharter - 2017 - Cham: Springer.
    This monograph looks at causal nets from a philosophical point of view. The author shows that one can build a general philosophical theory of causation on the basis of the causal nets framework that can be fruitfully used to shed new light on philosophical issues. Coverage includes both a theoretical as well as application-oriented approach to the subject. The author first counters David Hume’s challenge about whether causation is something ontologically real. The idea behind this is that good metaphysical concepts (...)
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  37. Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge.Robert Kowalenko - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):261-283.
    According to manipulationist accounts of causal explanation, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by intervening on its cause. The relevant change must be a ‘serious possibility’ claims Woodward 2003, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility—approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. This idea creates significant difficulties: background knowledge is necessary for judgments of possibili-ty. Yet the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism are ‘invariant’ generali-sations, and these are not well adapted to encoding such knowledge, (...)
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  38. Review of The Multiple Realization Book by Thomas W. Polger & Lawrence A. Shapiro (Oxford: Oxford University Press). [REVIEW]Tuomas K. Pernu - 2017 - Metapsychology Online Reviews 21.
  39. Causality, Human Action and Experimentation: Von Wright's Approach to Causation in Contemporary Perspective.Elena Popa - 2017 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 93:355-373.
    This paper discusses von Wright's theory of causation from Explanation and Understanding and Causality and Determinism in contemporary context. I argue that there are two important common points that von Wright's view shares with the version of manipulability currently supported by Woodward: the analysis of causal relations in a system modelled on controlled experiments, and the explanation of manipulability through counterfactuals - with focus on the counterfactual account of unmanipulable causes. These points also mark von Wright's departure from previous action-based (...)
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  40. Causation, Intervention and Agency—Woodward on Menzies and Price.Huw Price - 2017 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford, UK: pp. 73-98.
    In his influential book 'Making Things Happen' and in other places, Jim Woodward has noted some affinities between his own account of causation and that of Menzies and Price, but argued that the latter view is implausibly ‘subjective’. In this piece I discuss Woodward’s criticisms. I argue that the Menzies and Price view is not as different from Woodward’s own account as he believes, and that in so far as it is different, it has some advantages whose importance Woodward misses; (...)
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  41. The Manipulation of Chemical Reactions: Probing the Limits of Interventionism.Georgie Statham - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4815-4838.
    I apply James Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation to organic chemistry, modelling three different ways that chemists are able to manipulate the reaction conditions in order to control the outcome of a reaction. These consist in manipulations to the reaction kinetics, thermodynamics, and whether the kinetics or thermodynamics predominates. It is possible to construct interventionist causal models of all of these kinds of manipulation, and therefore to account for them using Woodward’s theory. However, I show that there is an alternate, (...)
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  42. Mechanisms Without Mechanistic Explanation.Naftali Weinberger - 2017 - Synthese:1-18.
    Some recent accounts of constitutive relevance have identified mechanism components with entities that are causal intermediaries between the input and output of a mechanism. I argue that on such accounts there is no distinctive inter-level form of mechanistic explanation and that this highlights an absence in the literature of a compelling argument that there are such explanations. Nevertheless, the entities that these accounts call ‘components’ do play an explanatory role. Studying causal intermediaries linking variables Xand Y provides knowledge of the (...)
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  43. Interventionist Causation in Thermodynamics.Karen R. Zwier - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1303-1315.
    The interventionist account of causation has been largely dismissed as a serious candidate for application in physics. This dismissal is related to the problematic assumption that physical causation is entirely a matter of dynamical evolution. In this article, I offer a fresh look at the interventionist account of causation and its applicability to thermodynamics. I argue that the interventionist account of causation is the account of causation that most appropriately characterizes the theoretical structure and phenomenal behavior of thermodynamics.
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  44. From Interventions to Mechanistic Explanations.Tudor Baetu - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    An important strategy in the discovery of biological mechanisms involves the piecing together of experimental results from interventions. However, if mechanisms are investigated by means of ideal interventions, as defined by James Woodward and others, then the kind of information revealed is insufficient to discriminate between modular and non-modular causal contributions. Ideal interventions suffice for constructing webs of causal dependencies that can be used to make some predictions about experimental outcomes, but tell us little about how causally relevant factors are (...)
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  45. Why the Difference Between Explanation and Argument Matters to Science Education.Ingo Brigandt - 2016 - Science & Education 25 (3-4):251-275.
    Contributing to the recent debate on whether or not explanations ought to be differentiated from arguments, this article argues that the distinction matters to science education. I articulate the distinction in terms of explanations and arguments having to meet different standards of adequacy. Standards of explanatory adequacy are important because they correspond to what counts as a good explanation in a science classroom, whereas a focus on evidence-based argumentation can obscure such standards of what makes an explanation explanatory. I provide (...)
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  46. Can Interventions Rescue Glennan’s Mechanistic Account of Causality?Lorenzo Casini - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1155-1183.
    Glennan appeals to interventions to solve the ontological and explanatory regresses that threaten his mechanistic account of causality . I argue that Glennan’s manoeuvre fails. The appeal to interventions is not able to address the ontological regress, and it blocks the explanatory regress only at the cost of making the account inapplicable to non-modular mechanisms. I offer a solution to the explanatory regress that makes use of dynamic Bayesian networks. My argument is illustrated by a case study from systems biology, (...)
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  47. Review of Mathias Frisch's Causal Reasoning in Physics. [REVIEW]Matt Farr - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4).
    Review of 'Causal Reasoning in Physics' by Mathias Frisch for British Journal for Philosophy of Science.
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  48. High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as presently (...)
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  49. Rejecting Interventions: Alexander Reutlinger: A Theory of Causation in the Social and Biological Sciences. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 276 Pp, $105.00 HB.Bryce Gessell - 2016 - Metascience 25 (1):139-141.
  50. An Internal Limit of the Structural Analysis of Causation.Alessandro Giordani - 2016 - Axiomathes 26 (4):429-450.
    Structural models of systems of causal connections have become a common tool in the analysis of the concept of causation. In the present paper I offer a general argument to show that one of the most powerful definitions of the concept of actual cause, provided within the structural models framework, is not sufficient to grant a full account of our intuitive judgements about actual causation, so that we are still waiting for a comprehensive definition. This is done not simply by (...)
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