On chance in causal loops

Mind 110 (437):1-23 (2001)
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Abstract

A common line of argument for the impossibility of closed causal loops is that they would involve causal paradoxes. The usual reply is that such loops impose heavy consistency constraints on the nature of causal connections in them; constraints that are overlooked by the impossibility arguments. Hugh Mellor has maintained that arguments for the possibility of causal loops also overlook some constraints, which are related to the chances (single-case, objective probabilities) that causes give to their effects. And he argues that a consideration of these constraints demonstrates that causal loops are impossible. I consider Mellor's argument and more generally the nature of chance in causal loops. I argue that Mellor's line of reasoning is unwarranted since it is based on untenable premisses about the relation between chances and long-run frequencies in causal loops. Yet, this line of reasoning may still be of interest to those who maintain that causes determine the chances of their effects; for it raises some unresolved questions about the nature of chance in causal loops.

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Joseph Berkovitz
University of Toronto, St. George

Citations of this work

On Predictions in Retro-Causal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Joseph Berkovitz - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):709-735.
Causal Loops and the Independence of Causal Facts.Phil Dowe - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S89-.

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