Physics and common causes

Synthese 82 (1):77 - 96 (1990)
Frank Arntzenius
Oxford University
The common cause principle states that common causes produce correlations amongst their effects, but that common effects do not produce correlations amongst their causes. I claim that this principle, as explicated in terms of probabilistic relations, is false in classical statistical mechanics. Indeterminism in the form of stationary Markov processes rather than quantum mechanics is found to be a possible saviour of the principle. In addition I argue that if causation is to be explicated in terms of probabilities, then it should be done in terms of probabilistic relations which are invariant under changes of initial distributions. Such relations can also give rise to an asymmetric cause-effect relationship which always runs forwards in time.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00413670
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The Direction of Time.Hans Reichenbach - 1956 - Dover Publications.
From Being to Becoming.I. Prigogine - 1982 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33 (3):325-329.
Asymmetries in Time.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Noûs 24 (5):804-806.

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