Topoi 33 (2):421-435 (2014)

Wolfgang Pietsch
Technische Universität München
It is argued that in deterministic contexts evidence for causal relations states whether a boundary condition makes a difference or not to a phenomenon. In order to substantiate the analysis, I show that this difference/indifference making is the basic type of evidence required for eliminative induction in the tradition of Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill. To this purpose, an account of eliminative induction is proposed with two distinguishing features: it includes a method to establish the causal irrelevance of boundary conditions by means of indifference making, which is called strict method of agreement, and it introduces the notion of a background against which causal statements are evaluated. Causal statements thus become three-place-relations postulating the relevance or irrelevance of a circumstance C to the examined phenomenon P with respect to a background B of further conditions. To underline the importance of evidence in terms of difference/indifference making, I sketch two areas, in which eliminative induction is extensively used in natural and engineering sciences. One concerns exploratory experiments, the other engineering design methods. Given that a method is discussed that has been used for centuries, I make no claims to novelty in this paper, but hope that the combined discussion of several topics that are still somewhat underrepresented in the philosophy of science literature is of some merit
Keywords Causality  Evidence  Eliminative induction  Method of difference  Exploratory experimentation  Engineering design
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-013-9190-y
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References found in this work BETA

Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
A Treatise on Probability.John Maynard Keynes - 1921 - London, England: Dover Publications.
The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine.Jeremy Howick - 2011 - Wiley-Blackwell, Bmj Books.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Causal Nature of Modeling with Big Data.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (2):137-171.
Aspects of Theory-Ladenness in Data-Intensive Science.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):905-916.

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