The paper provides a new critical perspective on the propensity interpretation of fitness, by investigating its relationship to the propensity interpretation of probability. Two main conclusions are drawn. First, the claim that fitness is a propensity cannot be understood properly: fitness is not a propensity in the sense prescribed by the propensity interpretation of probability. Second, this interpretation of probability is inessential for explanations proposed by the PIF in evolutionary biology. Consequently, interpreting the probabilistic dimension of fitness in terms of (...) propensities is neither a strong motivation in favor of this interpretation, nor a possible target for substantial criticism. (shrink)
Recent years have seen a notable increase in the production of scientific expertise by large multidisciplinary groups. The issue we address is how reports may be written by such groups in spite of their size and of formidable obstacles: complexity of subject matter, uncertainty, and scientific disagreement. Our focus is on the International Panel on Climate Change, unquestionably the best-known case of such collective scientific expertise. What we show is that the organization of work within the IPCC aims to make (...) it possible to produce documents that are indeed expert reports. To do so, we first put forward the epistemic norms that apply to expert reports in general, that is, the properties that reports should have in order to be useful and to help decision-making. Section 2 claims that these properties are: intelligibility, relevance and accuracy. Based on this analysis, section 3 points to the difficulties of having IPCC reports indeed satisfying these norms. We then show how the organization of work within the IPCC aims at and to a large extent secures intelligibility, relevance and accuracy, with the result that IPCC reports can be relied on for decision-making. Section 4 focuses on the fundamentals of IPCC’s work organization--that is, division of labour within the IPCC--while section 5 investigates three frameworks that were introduced over the course of the functioning of the IPCC: the reviewing procedure of IPCC reports, the language that IPCC authors use to express uncertainty and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Concluding remarks are offered in section 6. (shrink)
The present text comments on Steel 2005 , in which the author claims to extend from the deterministic to the general case, the result according to which the causal Markov condition is satisfied by systems with jointly independent exogenous variables. I show that Steel’s claim cannot be accepted unless one is prepared to abandon standard causal modeling terminology. Correlatively, I argue that the most fruitful aspect of Steel 2005 consists in a realist conception of error terms, and I show how (...) this conception sheds new light on the relationship between determinism and the causal Markov condition. †To contact the author, please write to: Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place du Cardinal Mercier 14, 1348 Louvain la Neuve, Belgium; e‐mail: [email protected]. (shrink)
The essential precondition of implementing interventionist techniques of causal reasoning is that particular variables are identified as so-called intervention variables. While the pertinent literature standardly brackets the question how this can be accomplished in concrete contexts of causal discovery, the first part of this paper shows that the interventionist nature of variables cannot, in principle, be established based only on an interventionist notion of causation. The second part then demonstrates that standard observational methods that draw on Bayesian networks identify intervention (...) variables only if they also answer the questions that can be answered by interventionist techniques—which are thus rendered dispensable. The paper concludes by suggesting a way of identifying intervention variables that allows for exploiting the whole inferential potential of interventionist techniques. (shrink)
The present paper deals with the tools that can be used to represent causation and to reason about it and, specifically, with their diversity. It focuses on so-called “causal probabilities”—that is, probabilities of effects given one of their causes—and critically surveys a recent paper in which Joyce argues that the values of these probabilities do not depend on one’s conception of causation. I first establish a stronger independence claim: I show that the very definition of causal probabilities is independent of (...) one’s conception of causation. Second, I investigate whether causal probabilities indeed take the same values under their different possible definitions. (shrink)
Things metaphysics can learn from physics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9515-z Authors Isabelle Drouet, Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place du cardinal Mercier 14, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Telle qu’elle s’est développée depuis les années 1920, la philosophie des probabilités s’organise presque tout entière autour de la question de l’interprétation des probabilités. En première approche, cette question peut être définie comme celle de savoir ce que les énoncés probabilistes signifient. Que veut dire, par exemple, que la probabilité d’obtenir pile à l’issue du lancer d’une pièce équilibrée...
L’approche contrefactuelle désigne, pour les historiens, une forme particulière que peut prendre le récit historique ou la pratique de l’histoire. Raisonner contrefactuellement, dans ce cadre, c’est se demander ce qui se serait passé si la réalité avait été différente. Le plus souvent, il s’agit de supprimer en pensée un événement ou une réalité historique et de s’interroger sur les conséquences de cette suppression. Que se serait-il passé si Hitler était mort pendant la Première Guerre mondi..