Getting rid of interventions

Abstract
According to James Woodward’s influential interventionist account of causation, X is a cause of Y iff, roughly, there is a possible intervention on X that changes Y. Woodward requires that interventions be merely logically possible. I will argue for two claims against this modal character of interventions: First, merely logically possible interventions are dispensable for the semantic project of providing an account of the meaning of causal statements. If interventions are indeed dispensable, the interventionist theory collapses into (some sort of) a counterfactual theory of causation. Thus, the interventionist theory is not tenable as a theory of causation in its own right. Second, if one maintains that merely logically possible interventions are indispensable, then interventions with this modal character lead to the fatal result that interventionist counterfactuals are evaluated inadequately. Consequently, interventionists offer an inadequate theory of causation. I suggest that if we are concerned with explicating causal concepts and stating the truth-conditions of causal claims we best get rid of Woodwardian interventions.
Keywords Interventionist theory of causation  Intervention  Counterfactuals  Counterfactual theories of causation
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2012.05.006
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References found in this work BETA
Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach. Part I: Causes.Joseph Y. Halpern & Judea Pearl - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):843-887.
Response to Strevens.Jim Woodward - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1):193-212.
Causation as Folk Science.John D. Norton - 2007 - In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Philosophers' Imprint. Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist's 'Variables Problem'.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
Methodology, Ontology, and Interventionism.James Woodward - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3577-3599.
The Agency Theory of Causality, Anthropomorphism, and Simultaneity.Marco Buzzoni - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (4):375-395.
The Causal Nature of Modeling with Big Data.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (2):137-171.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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