Synthese 198 (Suppl 27):6505-6527 (2019)

Reuben Stern
Kansas State University
Though common sense says that causes must temporally precede their effects, the hugely influential interventionist account of causation makes no reference to temporal precedence. Does common sense lead us astray? In this paper, I evaluate the power of the commonsense assumption from within the interventionist approach to causal modeling. I first argue that if causes temporally precede their effects, then one need not consider the outcomes of interventions in order to infer causal relevance, and that one can instead use temporal and probabilistic information to infer exactly when X is causally relevant to Y in each of the senses captured by Woodward’s interventionist treatment. Then, I consider the upshot of these findings for causal decision theory, and argue that the commonsense assumption is especially powerful when an agent seeks to determine whether so-called “dominance reasoning” is applicable.
Keywords causation  causal Bayes nets  probabilistic causation  interventions  causal decision theory  dominance reasoning
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02235-4
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References found in this work BETA

Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.

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Antireductionist Interventionism.Reuben Stern & Benjamin Eva - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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