Causal Laws and Laws of Association

Noûs 19 (4):537 - 549 (1985)

Abstract
In her paper entitled "Causal Laws and Effective Strategies" (1979), Cartwright sets out to establish the connection between laws of association and causal laws. In part Cartwright is trying to show the sense in which a cause increases the probability of its effect, and to explain what causal laws assert by giving an account of how causal laws are related to certain kinds of statistical laws. In section II we explicate the essential features of Cartwright's for- mulation and in section III we argue that there are several reasons for believing that Cartwright's formulation is inadequate and must be rejected. Nonetheless, we believe Cartwright's formulation does contain two key insights into the nature of causation. In section IV we use these two insights to sketch out the key features of an alternative formulation that holds the certain laws of association are necessary conditions for causal laws. The alternative formu- lation, we believe, explains what it means to say a cause increases the probability of its effect.
Keywords Nancy Cartwright  Causal Laws  Probabilistic Laws  Probabilistic Causality
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DOI 10.2307/2215352
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