Probable causes and the distinction between subjective and objective chance

Noûs 31 (4):496-519 (1997)
In this paper I present both a critical appraisal of Humphreys' probabilistic theory of causality and a sketch of an alternative view of the relationship between the notions of probability and of cause. Though I do not doubt that determinism is false, I claim that the examples used to motivate Humphreys' theory typically refer to subjective rather than objective chance. Additionally, I argue on a number of grounds that Humphreys' suggestion that linear regression models be used as a canonical form for the description of causal relations is untenable. I conclude by exploring the variety of ways in which probabilistic elements can be embedded into the structure of causal mechanisms. This investigation suggests both that deterministic mechanisms can produce stochastic behavior and stochastic mechanisms can produce deterministic behavior. Note: Link is to the article in a subscription database available to users affiliated with Butler University. Appropriate login information will be required for access. Users not affiliated with Butler University should contact their local librarian for assistance in locating a copy of this article
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DOI 10.1111/0029-4624.00058
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