What is the 'Cause' in Causal Decision Theory?

Erkenntnis 78 (1):129-146 (2013)
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Abstract

A simple counterfactual theory of causation fails because of problems with cases of preemption. This might lead us to expect that preemption will raise problems for counterfactual theories of other concepts that have a causal dimension. Indeed, examples are easy to find. But there is one case where we do not find this. Several versions of causal decision theory are formulated using counterfactuals. This might lead us to expect that these theories will yield the wrong recommendations in cases of preemption. But they do not. The explanation, I argue, is that the ‘cause’ that has been the target of counterfactual analyses is a specific relation, ‘actual causation’, that is not needed for prospective deliberation. A simple counterfactual theory of causation seems to capture the notion of cause needed for causal decision theory. This shows, in opposition to some critics, that counterfactual theories of causation are not barking up the wrong tree.

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Christopher Hitchcock
California Institute of Technology

References found in this work

The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Philosophical Papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829.

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