Against modularity, the causal Markov condition, and any link between the two: Comments on Hausman and Woodward

In their rich and intricate paper ‘Independence, Invariance, and the Causal Markov Condition’, Daniel Hausman and James Woodward ([1999]) put forward two independent theses, which they label ‘level invariance’ and ‘manipulability’, and they claim that, given a specific set of assumptions, manipulability implies the causal Markov condition. These claims are interesting and important, and this paper is devoted to commenting on them. With respect to level invariance, I argue that Hausman and Woodward's discussion is confusing because, as I point out, they use different senses of ‘intervention’ and ‘invariance’ without saying so. I shall remark on these various uses and point out that the thesis is true in at least two versions. The second thesis, however, is not true. I argue that in their formulation, the manipulability thesis is patently false and that a modified version does not fare better. Furthermore, I think their proof that manipulability implies the causal Markov condition is not conclusive. In the deterministic case it is valid but vacuous, whereas it is invalid in the probabilistic case. 1 Introduction 2 Intervention, invariance and modularity 3 The causal Markov condition: CM1 and CM2 4 From MOD to the causal Markov condition and back 5 A second argument for CM2 6 The proof of the causal Markov condition for probabilistic causes 7 ‘Cartwright's objection’ defended 8 Metaphysical defenses of the causal Markov condition 9 Conclusion.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/53.3.411
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