Causality as a theoretical concept: explanatory warrant and empirical content of the theory of causal nets

Synthese 193 (4):1073-1103 (2016)

Alexander Gebharter
University of Groningen
Gerhard Schurz
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
We start this paper by arguing that causality should, in analogy with force in Newtonian physics, be understood as a theoretical concept that is not explicated by a single definition, but by the axioms of a theory. Such an understanding of causality implicitly underlies the well-known theory of causal nets and has been explicitly promoted by Glymour. In this paper we investigate the explanatory warrant and empirical content of TCN. We sketch how the assumption of directed cause–effect relations can be philosophically justified by an inference to the best explanation. We then ask whether the explanations provided by TCN are merely post-facto or have independently testable empirical content. To answer this question we develop a fine-grained axiomatization of TCN, including a distinction of different kinds of faithfulness. A number of theorems show that although the core axioms of TCN are empirically empty, extended versions of TCN have successively increasing empirical content.
Keywords screening off  linking up  axioms for causal nets  inference to the best explanation  empirical content  causation  causal nets
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0630-z
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References found in this work BETA

Causality.Judea Pearl - 2009 - Cambridge University Press.
Causation, Prediction, and Search.Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):113-123.
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition.M. Tomasello - 1999 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Causal Exclusion and Causal Bayes Nets.Alexander Gebharter - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2):353-375.
The Causal Problem of Entanglement.Paul Näger - 2016 - Synthese 193 (4):1127-1155.

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