Interventionism Defended

Logos and Episteme 6 (1):61-73 (2015)
Authors
Kevin McCain
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Abstract
James Woodward’s Making Things Happen presents the most fully developed version of a manipulability theory of causation. Although the ‘interventionist’account of causation that Woodward defends in Making Things Happen has many admirable qualities, Michael Strevens argues that it has a fatal flaw. Strevens maintains that Woodward’s interventionist account of causation renders facts about causation relative to an individual’s perspective. In response to this charge, Woodward claims that although on his account X might be a relativized cause of Y relative to some perspective, this does not lead to the problematic relativity that Strevens claims. Roughly, Woodward argues this is so because if X is a relativized cause of Y with respect to some perspective, then X is a cause of Y simpliciter. So, the truth of whether X is a cause of Y is not relative to one’s perspective. Strevens counters by arguing that Woodward’s response fails because relativized causation is not monotonic. In this paper I argue that Strevens’ argument that relativized causation is not monotonic is unsound.
Keywords causation  intervention  James Woodward  manipulation  Michael Strevens
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ISBN(s) 2069-0533
DOI 10.5840/logos-episteme2015613
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