Counterfactuals and causal explanation


Authors
James Woodward
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
This article defends the use of interventionist counterfactuals to elucidate causal and explanatory claims against criticisms advanced by James Bogen and Peter Machamer. Against Bogen, I argue that counterfactual claims concerning what would happen under interventions are meaningful and have determinate truth values, even in a deterministic world. I also argue, against both Machamer and Bogen, that we need to appeal to counterfactuals to capture the notions like causal relevance and causal mechanism. Contrary to what both authors suppose, counterfactuals are not "unscientific" - a substantial tradition within statistics and the causal modelling literature makes heavy use of them.
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1080/02698590412331289251
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Causation, Prediction, and Search.Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):113-123.
The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Noûs 14 (1):120-124.
Causation.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.

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Citations of this work BETA

Three Kinds of New Mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
Causally Productive Activities.Jim Bogen - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):112-123.
Singular and General Causal Relations: A Mechanist Perspective.Stuart Glennan - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.

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