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James Woodward
University of Pittsburgh
  1. Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    Woodward's long awaited book is an attempt to construct a comprehensive account of causation explanation that applies to a wide variety of causal and explanatory claims in different areas of science and everyday life. The book engages some of the relevant literature from other disciplines, as Woodward weaves together examples, counterexamples, criticisms, defenses, objections, and replies into a convincing defense of the core of his theory, which is that we can analyze causation by appeal to the notion of manipulation.
  2.  21
    Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
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  3. Causation in Biology: Stability, Specificity, and the Choice of Levels of Explanation.James Woodward - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):287-318.
    This paper attempts to elucidate three characteristics of causal relationships that are important in biological contexts. Stability has to do with whether a causal relationship continues to hold under changes in background conditions. Proportionality has to do with whether changes in the state of the cause “line up” in the right way with changes in the state of the effect and with whether the cause and effect are characterized in a way that contains irrelevant detail. Specificity is connected both to (...)
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  4. Interventionism and Causal Exclusion.James Woodward - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):303-347.
    A number of writers, myself included, have recently argued that an “interventionist” treatment of causation of the sort defended in Woodward, 2003 can be used to cast light on so-called “causal exclusion” arguments. This interventionist treatment of causal exclusion has in turn been criticized by other philosophers. This paper responds to these criticisms. It describes an interventionist framework for thinking about causal relationships when supervenience relations are present. I contend that this framework helps us to see that standard arguments for (...)
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  5. Saving the Phenomena.James Bogen & James Woodward - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (3):303-352.
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  6. The Problem of Variable Choice.James Woodward - 2016 - Synthese 193 (4):1047-1072.
    This paper explores some issues about the choice of variables for causal representation and explanation. Depending on which variables a researcher employs, many causal inference procedures and many treatments of causation will reach different conclusions about which causal relationships are present in some system of interest. The assumption of this paper is that some choices of variables are superior to other choices for the purpose of causal analysis. A number of possible criteria for variable choice are described and defended within (...)
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  7. II—Mechanistic Explanation: Its Scope and Limits.James Woodward - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):39-65.
    This paper explores the question of whether all or most explanations in biology are, or ideally should be, ‘mechanistic’. I begin by providing an account of mechanistic explanation, making use of the interventionist ideas about causation I have developed elsewhere. This account emphasizes the way in which mechanistic explanations, at least in the biological sciences, integrate difference‐making and spatio‐temporal information, and exhibit what I call fine‐tunedness of organization. I also emphasize the role played by modularity conditions in mechanistic explanation. I (...)
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  8. Explanatory Generalizations, Part I: A Counterfactual Account.James Woodward & Christopher Hitchcock - 2003 - Noûs 37 (1):1–24.
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  9. Explanation and Invariance in the Special Sciences.James Woodward - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):197-254.
    This paper describes an alternative to the common view that explanation in the special sciences involves subsumption under laws. According to this alternative, whether or not a generalization can be used to explain has to do with whether it is invariant rather than with whether it is lawful. A generalization is invariant if it is stable or robust in the sense that it would continue to hold under a relevant if it is stable or robust in the sense that it (...)
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  10. Mental Causation and Neural Mechanisms.James Woodward - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 218-262.
    This paper discusses some issues concerning the relationship between the mental and the physical, including the so-called causal exclusion argument, within the framework of a broadly interventionist approach to causation.
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  11. Sensitive and Insensitive Causation.James Woodward - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (1):1-50.
  12. Explanatory Generalizations, Part II: Plumbing Explanatory Depth.Christopher Hitchcock & James Woodward - 2003 - Noûs 37 (2):181–199.
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  13. Folk Psychology is Here to Stay.Terence Horgan & James Woodward - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (April):197-225.
  14. Causation and Manipulability.James Woodward - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Manipulablity theories of causation, according to which causes are to be regarded as handles or devices for manipulating effects, have considerable intuitive appeal and are popular among social scientists and statisticians. This article surveys several prominent versions of such theories advocated by philosophers, and the many difficulties they face. Philosophical statements of the manipulationist approach are generally reductionist in aspiration and assign a central role to human action. These contrast with recent discussions employing a broadly manipulationist framework for understanding causation, (...)
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  15. Causation with a Human Face.James Woodward - 2007 - In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality: Russell's Republic Revisited. Oxford University Press.
    What is the relationship between, on the one hand, the sorts of causal claims found in the special sciences (and in common sense) and, on the other hand, the world as described by physics? A standard picture goes like this: the fundamental laws of physics are causal laws in the sense that they can be interpreted as telling us that realizations of one set of physical factors or properties “causes” realizations of other properties. Causal claims in the special sciences are (...)
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  16. The Structure and Dynamics of Scientific Theories: A Hierarchical Bayesian Perspective.Leah Henderson, Noah D. Goodman, Joshua B. Tenenbaum & James F. Woodward - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (2):172-200.
    Hierarchical Bayesian models (HBMs) provide an account of Bayesian inference in a hierarchically structured hypothesis space. Scientific theories are plausibly regarded as organized into hierarchies in many cases, with higher levels sometimes called ‘paradigms’ and lower levels encoding more specific or concrete hypotheses. Therefore, HBMs provide a useful model for scientific theory change, showing how higher‐level theory change may be driven by the impact of evidence on lower levels. HBMs capture features described in the Kuhnian tradition, particularly the idea that (...)
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  17.  45
    Explanatory Autonomy: The Role of Proportionality, Stability, and Conditional Irrelevance.James Woodward - 2018 - Synthese:1-29.
    This paper responds to recent criticisms of the idea that true causal claims, satisfying a minimal “interventionist” criterion for causation, can differ in the extent to which they satisfy other conditions—called stability and proportionality—that are relevant to their use in explanatory theorizing. It reformulates the notion of proportionality so as to avoid problems with previous formulations. It also introduces the notion of conditional independence or irrelevance, which I claim is central to understanding the respects and the extent to which upper (...)
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  18. Mechanisms Revisited.James Woodward - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):409-427.
    This paper defends an interventionist treatment of mechanisms and contrasts this with Waskan (forthcoming). Interventionism embodies a difference-making conception of causation. I contrast such conceptions with geometrical/mechanical or “actualist” conceptions, associating Waskan’s proposals with the latter. It is argued that geometrical/mechanical conceptions of causation cannot replace difference-making conceptions in characterizing the behavior of mechanisms, but that some of the intuitions behind the geometrical/mechanical approach can be captured by thinking in terms of spatio-temporally organized difference-making information.
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  19. There is No Such Thing as a Ceteris Paribus Law.James Woodward - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (3):303Ð328.
    In this paper I criticize the commonly accepted idea that the generalizations of the special sciences should be construed as ceteris paribus laws. This idea rests on mistaken assumptions about the role of laws in explanation and their relation to causal claims. Moreover, the major proposals in the literature for the analysis of ceteris paribus laws are, on their own terms, complete failures. I sketch a more adequate alternative account of the content of causal generalizations in the special sciences which (...)
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  20.  39
    Some Varieties of Non-Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter explores the possibility of weakening the criteria for causal explanation in Making Things Happen to yield various forms of non-causal explanation. These include the following: retaining the idea that explanations must answer what if things had been different questions but dropping the requirement the answers to such questions must take the form of claims about what would happen under interventions. Retaining the w- question requirement but allowing generalizations that hold for mathematical or conceptual reasons to figure in explanations. (...)
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  21. Methodology, Ontology, and Interventionism.James Woodward - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3577-3599.
    This paper defends an interventionist account of causation by construing this account as a contribution to methodology, rather than as a set of theses about the ontology or metaphysics of causation. It also uses the topic of causation to raise some more general issues about the relation between, on the one hand, methodology, and, on the other hand, ontology and metaphysics, as these are understood in contemporary philosophical discussion, particularly among so-called analytic metaphysicians. It concludes with the suggestion that issues (...)
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  22. Scientific Explanation.James Woodward - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (1):41-67.
    Issues concerning scientific explanation have been a focus of philosophical attention from Pre- Socratic times through the modern period. However, recent discussion really begins with the development of the Deductive-Nomological (DN) model. This model has had many advocates (including Popper 1935, 1959, Braithwaite 1953, Gardiner, 1959, Nagel 1961) but unquestionably the most detailed and influential statement is due to Carl Hempel (Hempel 1942, 1965, and Hempel & Oppenheim 1948). These papers and the reaction to them have structured subsequent discussion concerning (...)
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  23. The Non-Identity Problem.James Woodward - 1986 - Ethics 96 (4):804-831.
  24. A Functional Account of Causation; or, A Defense of the Legitimacy of Causal Thinking by Reference to the Only Standard That Matters—Usefulness.James Woodward - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):691-713.
    This essay advocates a “functional” approach to causation and causal reasoning: these are to be understood in terms of the goals and purposes of causal thinking. This approach is distinguished from accounts based on metaphysical considerations or on reconstruction of “intuitions.”.
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  25.  96
    Modularity and the Causal Markov Condition: A Restatement.Daniel M. Hausman & James Woodward - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):147-161.
    expose some gaps and difficulties in the argument for the causal Markov condition in our essay ‘Independence, Invariance and the Causal Markov Condition’ ([1999]), and we are grateful for the opportunity to reformulate our position. In particular, Cartwright disagrees vigorously with many of the theses we advance about the connection between causation and manipulation. Although we are not persuaded by some of her criticisms, we shall confine ourselves to showing how our central argument can be reconstructed and to casting doubt (...)
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  26. Agency and Interventionist Theories.James Woodward - 2009 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Peter Menzies (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oxford University Press.
     
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  27. Moral Intuition: Its Neural Substrates and Normative Significance.James Woodward & John Allman - 2007 - Journal of Physiology-Paris 101 (4-6):179-202.
    We use the phrase "moral intuition" to describe the appearance in consciousness of moral judgments or assessments without any awareness of having gone through a conscious reasoning process that produces this assessment. This paper investigates the neural substrates of moral intuition. We propose that moral intuitions are part of a larger set of social intuitions that guide us through complex, highly uncertain and rapidly changing social interactions. Such intuitions are shaped by learning. The neural substrates for moral intuition include fronto-insular, (...)
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  28.  15
    Just Do It? Investigating the Gap Between Prediction and Action in Toddlers’ Causal Inferences.Elizabeth Baraff Bonawitz, Darlene Ferranti, Rebecca Saxe, Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, James Woodward & Laura E. Schulz - 2010 - Cognition 115 (1):104-117.
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  29. Data and Phenomena: A Restatement and Defense.James F. Woodward - 2011 - Synthese 182 (1):165-179.
    This paper provides a restatement and defense of the data/ phenomena distinction introduced by Jim Bogen and me several decades ago (e.g., Bogen and Woodward, The Philosophical Review, 303–352, 1988). Additional motivation for the distinction is introduced, ideas surrounding the distinction are clarified, and an attempt is made to respond to several criticisms.
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  30.  75
    Causation: Interactions Between Philosophical Theories and Psychological Research.James Woodward - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):961-972.
  31.  79
    A Theory of Singular Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 1984 - Erkenntnis 21 (3):231 - 262.
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  32. Counterfactuals and Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):41 – 72.
    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 (...)
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  33.  73
    Manipulation and the Causal Markov Condition.Daniel Hausman & James Woodward - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):846-856.
    This paper explores the relationship between a manipulability conception of causation and the causal Markov condition (CM). We argue that violations of CM also violate widely shared expectations—implicit in the manipulability conception—having to do with the absence of spontaneous correlations. They also violate expectations concerning the connection between independence or dependence relationships in the presence and absence of interventions.
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  34. Cause and Explanation in Psychiatry: An Interventionist Perspective.James Woodward - 2008 - In Kenneth S. Kendler & Josef Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology, and Nosology. Johns Hopkins University Press.
    This paper explores some issues concerning the nature and structure of causal explanation in psychiatry and psychology from the point of view of the “interventionist” theory defended in my book, Making Things Happen. Among the issues is explored is the extent to which candidate causal explanations involving “upper level” or relatively coarse-grained or macroscopic variables such as mental/psychological states (e.g. highly self critical beliefs or low self esteem) or environmental factors (e.g. parental abuse) compete with explanations that instead appeal to (...)
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  35.  27
    Explanation in Neurobiology: An Interventionist Perspective.James Woodward - unknown
    This paper employs an interventionist framework to elucidate some issues having to do with explanation in neurobiology and with the differences between mechanistic and non-mechanistic explanations.
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  36. Book Review:What Is a Law of Nature? D. M. Armstrong.James Woodward - 1985 - Ethics 95 (4):949-951.
  37.  37
    A Functional Account of Causation.James Woodward - unknown
    This essay advocates a “functional” approach to causation and causal reasoning: these are to be understood in terms of the goals and purposes of causal thinking. This approach is distinguished from accounts based on metaphysical considerations or on reconstruction of “intuitions”.
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  38. The Mind is Not (Just) a System of Modules Shaped (Just) by Natural Selection.James F. Woodward & Fiona Cowie - 2004 - In Christopher Hitchcock (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science. Malden MA: Blackwell. pp. 312-34.
  39. Realism About Laws.James Woodward - 1992 - Erkenntnis 36 (2):181-218.
    This paper explores the idea that laws express relationships between properties or universals as defended in Michael Tooley's recent book Causation: A Realist Approach. I suggest that the most plausible version of realism will take a different form than that advocated by Tooley. According to this alternative, laws are grounded in facts about the capacities and powers of particular systems, rather than facts about relations between universals. The notion of lawfulness is linked to the notion of invariance, rather than to (...)
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  40.  30
    Koch’s Postulates: An Interventionist Perspective.Lauren N. Ross & James F. Woodward - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 59:35-46.
    We argue that Koch’s postulates are best understood within an interventionist account of causation, in the sense described in Woodward. We show how this treatment helps to resolve interpretive puzzles associated with Koch’s work and how it clarifies the different roles the postulates play in providing useful, yet not universal criteria for disease causation. Our paper is an effort at rational reconstruction; we attempt to show how Koch’s postulates and reasoning make sense and are normatively justified within an interventionist framework (...)
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  41.  58
    The Causal Mechanical Model of Explanation.James Woodward - 1989 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13:359-83.
  42. Psychological Studies of Causal and Counterfactual Reasoning.James Woodward - 2008 - In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Sarah R. Beck (eds.), Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 16.
    Counterfactual theories of causation of the sort presented in Mackie, 1974, and Lewis, 1973 are a familiar part of the philosophical landscape. Such theories are typically advanced primarily as accounts of the metaphysics of causation. But they also raise empirical psychological issues concerning the processes and representations that underlie human causal reasoning. For example, do human subjects internally represent causal claims in terms of counterfactual judgments and when they engage in causal reasoning, does this involves reasoning about counterfactual claims? This (...)
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  43.  5
    On Wolfgang Spohn’s Laws of Belief.James Woodward - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):759-772.
    This is one of a pair of discussion notes comparing some features of the account of causation in Wolfgang Spohn’s Laws of Belief with the “interventionist” account in James Woodward’s Making Things Happen. Despite striking similarities there are also important differences. These include the “epistemic” orientation of Spohn’s account as opposed to the worldly or “ontic” orientation of the interventionist account, Spohn’s focus on token-level causal claims in contrast to the primary interventionist focus on type-level claims, the role of temporal (...)
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  44. Causal Perception and Causal Cognition.James Woodward - 2008 - In Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman & Naomi Eilan (eds.), Perception, Causation, and Objectivity. Oxford University Press.
    This paper explores some issues having to do with the perception of causation. It discusses the role that phenomena that that are associated with causal perception, such as Michottean launching interactions, play within philosophical accounts of causation and also speculates on their possible role in development.
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  45.  21
    Laws, Causes, and Invariance.James Woodward - 2013 - In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter explores some issues having to do with the structure of the evidential reasoning we use to infer causal and lawful claims. It is argued that such reasoning always makes use of prior, causally, or nomologically committed information, thus undercutting various views that attempt to reduce causal and lawful claims to claims about regularities. A non-reductive account of laws and causes built around the notion of invariance is advanced as an alternative.
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  46.  37
    Comment: Levels of Explanation and Variable Choice.James F. Woodward - 2008 - In Kenneth S. Kendler & Josef Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology, and Nosology. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 216.
  47.  23
    Laws: An Invariance- Based Account.James Woodward - 2018 - In Ott & Patton (eds.), Laws of Nature. Oxford University Press.
    This paper defends an invariance-based account of laws of nature: Laws are generalizations that remain invariant under various sorts of changes. Alternatively, laws are generalizations that exhibit a certain kind of independence from background conditions.
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  48.  5
    A Philosopher Looks at Tool Use and Causal Understanding.James Woodward - unknown
    This paper explores some general questions about the sorts of abilities that are involved in tool use and “causal cognition”, both in humans and in non-human primates. An attempt is made to relate the empirical literature on these topics to various philosophical theories of causation.
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  49.  30
    Intervening in the Exclusion Argument.James Woodward - unknown
    This paper discusses Peter Menzies' work on the exclusion argument. I defend an interventionist treatment of the argument that differs in some respects from the approach advocated by Menzies and Christian List.
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  50.  95
    Social Preferences in Experimental Economics.James Woodward - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):646-657.
    This article explores some issues having to do with the use of experimental results from one‐shot games to reach conclusions about the existence of social preferences that are taken to figure in the explanation of cooperation in repeated interactions in real life. †To contact the author, please write to: Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125; e‐mail: jfw@hss.caltech.edu.
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