Common causes and the direction of causation

Minds and Machines 16 (3):239-257 (2006)
Abstract
Is the common cause principle merely one of a set of useful heuristics for discovering causal relations, or is it rather a piece of heavy duty metaphysics, capable of grounding the direction of causation itself? Since the principle was introduced in Reichenbach’s groundbreaking work The Direction of Time (1956), there have been a series of attempts to pursue the latter program—to take the probabilistic relationships constitutive of the principle of the common cause and use them to ground the direction of causation. These attempts have not all explicitly appealed to the principle as originally formulated; it has also appeared in the guise of independence conditions, counterfactual overdetermination, and, in the causal modelling literature, as the causal markov condition. In this paper, I identify a set of difficulties for grounding the asymmetry of causation on the principle and its descendents. The first difficulty, concerning what I call the vertical placement of causation, consists of a tension between considerations that drive towards the macroscopic scale, and considerations that drive towards the microscopic scale—the worry is that these considerations cannot both be comfortably accommodated. The second difficulty consists of a novel potential counterexample to the principle based on the familiar Einstein Podolsky Rosen (EPR) correlations in quantum mechanics.
Keywords common cause principle  Reichenbach  quantum nonlocality  causal asymmetry  direction of time
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11023-006-9042-2
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 25,091
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - 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.

View all 52 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Can We Reduce Causal Direction to Probabilities?David Papineau - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:238-252.
A Partial Theory of Actual Causation.Brad Weslake - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Can Counterfactuals Solve the Exclusion Problem?Lei Zhong - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (1):129-147.
Physics and Common Causes.Frank Arntzenius - 1990 - Synthese 82 (1):77 - 96.
The Direction of Causation: Ramsey's Ultimate Contingency.Huw Price - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:253 - 267.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

205 ( #18,035 of 2,132,872 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #81,761 of 2,132,872 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums