Since its first introduction by Hans Reichenbach, many philosophers have claimed to refute the common cause principle. The situation is not so straightforward, though: validity of the principle remains an open question. The book traces different formulations of the principle, and provides proofs of a few pertinent theorems, settling the relevant questions in various probability spaces. It offers both philosophical insight and mathematical rigor.
We show how to extend any finite probability space into another finite one which satisfies the conditional construal of conditional probability for the original propositions, given some maximal allowed degree of nesting of the conditional. This mitigates the force of the well-known triviality results.
We give a few results concerning the notions of causal completability and causal closedness of classical probability spaces . We prove that any classical probability space has a causally closed extension; any finite classical probability space with positive rational probabilities on the atoms of the event algebra can be extended to a causally up-to-three-closed finite space; and any classical probability space can be extended to a space in which all correlations between events that are logically independent modulo measure zero event (...) have a countably infinite common-cause system. Collectively, these results show that it is surprisingly easy to find Reichenbach-style ‘explanations' for correlations, underlining doubts as to whether this approach can yield a philosophically relevant account of causality. 1 Introduction2 Basic Definitions and Results in the Literature3 Causal Completability the Easy Way: ‘Splitting the Atom’4 Causal Completability of Classical Probability Spaces: The General Case5 Infinite Statistical Common-Cause Systems for Arbitrary Pairs6 ConclusionAppendix A. (shrink)
We investigate the semantics of historical counterfactuals in indeterministic contexts. We claim that "plain" and "necessitated" counterfactuals differ in meaning. To substantiate this claim, we propose a new semantic treatment of historical counterfactuals in the Branching Time framework. We supplement our semantics with supervaluationist postsemantics, thanks to which we can explain away the intuitions which seem to talk in favor of the identification of "would" with "would necessarily".
Since its introduction by Hans Reichenbach, many philosophers have claimed to refute the idea – known as the common cause principle – that any surprising correlation between any two factors that do not directly influence one another is due to some common cause. For example, falsity of the principle is frequently inferred from falsifiability of Bell’s inequalities. The author demonstrates, however, that the situation is not so straightforward. There is more than one version of the principle formulated with the use (...) of different variants of Reichenbach-inspired notions; their falsity still remains an open question. The book traces different formulations of the principle and provides proofs of a few pertinent theorems, settling the relevant questions in various probability spaces. In exploring mathematical and philosophical issues surrounding the principle, the book offers both philosophical insight and mathematical rigor. (shrink)
In this paper we give a positive answer to a problem posed by Hofer-Szabó and Rédei (Int. J. Theor. Phys. 43:1819–1826, 2004) regarding the existence of infinite Reichenbachian common cause systems (RCCSs). An example of a countably infinite RCCS is presented. It is also determined that no RCCSs of greater cardinality exist.
We report a solution to an open problem regarding the axiomatization of the convex hull of a type of nonclassical evaluations. We then investigate the meaning of this result for the larger context of the relation between rational credence functions and nonclassical probability. We claim that the notions of bets and Dutch Books typically employed in formal epistemology are of doubtful use outside the realm of classical logic, eventually proposing two novel ways of understanding Dutch Books in nonclassical settings.
In this paper we study the interaction between symmetric logic and probability. In particular, we axiomatize the convex hull of the set of evaluations of symmetric logic, yielding the notion of probability in symmetric logic. This answers an open problem of Williams ( 2016 ) and Paris ( 2001 ).
Hawthorne, Landes, Wallmann and Williamson argue that the Principal Principle implies a version of the Principle of Indifference. We show that what the Authors take to be the Principle of Indifference can be obtained without invoking anything which would seem to be related to the Principal Principle. In the Appendix we also discuss several Conditions proposed in the same paper.
In recent years part of the literature on probabilistic causality concerned notions stemming from Reichenbach’s idea of explaining correlations between not directly causally related events by referring to their common causes. A few related notions have been introduced, e.g. that of a “common cause system” (Hofer-Szabó and Rédei in Int J Theor Phys 43(7/8):1819–1826, 2004) and “causal (N-)closedness” of probability spaces (Gyenis and Rédei in Found Phys 34(9):1284–1303, 2004; Hofer-Szabó and Rédei in Found Phys 36(5):745–756, 2006). In this paper we (...) introduce a new and natural notion similar to causal closedness and prove a number of theorems which can be seen as extensions of earlier results from the literature. Most notably we prove that a finite probability space is causally closed in our sense iff its measure is uniform. We also present a generalisation of this result to a class of non-classical probability spaces. (shrink)
My Ph.D. dissertation written under the supervision of Prof. Tomasz Placek at the Institute of Philosophy of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In one of its most basic and informal shapes, the principle of the common cause states that any surprising correlation between two factors which are believed not to directly influence one another is due to their common cause. Here we will be concerned with a version od this idea which possesses a purely probabilistic formulation. It was introduced, in (...) the form of a general principle, by Hans Reichenbach in his posthumously published book "The Direction of Time". The central notion of the principle in Reichenbach's formulation, and of the current essay, is that of screening off: two correlated events are screened off by a third event if conditioning on the third event makes them probabilistically independent. Reichenbach's principle marks also the beginning of a new field of philosophy: namely, that of ``probabilistic causality''. For the most part, the current essay can be seen as an effort at checking how far one can go with the purely statistical notions revolving around Reichenbach's idea of common cause. In short, the answer is ``surprisingly far''; in some classes of probability spaces all correlations between ``interesting'' events possess explanations of such sort. However, this fact lends itself to opposing interpretations; more on that in the conclusion. Chapters 6 and 7 contain mathematical results concerning these issues. The screening-off condition requires an equality of a probabilistic nature to hold; chapter 8 is a short discussion of slightly weakened versions of the condition, which hold if the sides of the above mentioned equality differ to a small degree. In chapter 2, after some mathematical preliminaries, we study the various formulations of the principle which might be said to stem from the original idea of Reichenbach. We also examine a few of the most salient counterarguments, which undermine at least some of the formulations. Chapter 3 is of a formal nature, dealing with various probabilistic notions which can be thought of as generalizations of Reichenbach's concept of common cause. The next chapter concerns the relationship between the idea of common causal explanation and the Bell inequalities. In chapter 5 we briefly present the form of Reichenbach's principle which can be found in the field of representing causal structures by means of directed acyclic graphs. (shrink)
This paper investigates the prospects of developing a branching modal framework while keeping with the spirit of Humean Supervenience. It is argued that such an approach is bound to face hard problems regarding haecceitism and the notion of recombination. Possible directions for future philosophical developments of branching frameworks are suggested.
We investigate how Dutch Book considerations can be conducted in the context of two classes of nonclassical probability spaces used in philosophy of physics. In particular we show that a recent proposal by B. Feintzeig to find so called “generalized probability spaces” which would not be susceptible to a Dutch Book and would not possess a classical extension is doomed to fail. Noting that the particular notion of a nonclassical probability space used by Feintzeig is not the most common employed (...) in philosophy of physics, and that his usage of the “classical” Dutch Book concept is not appropriate in “nonclassical” contexts, we then argue that if we switch to the more frequently used formalism and use the correct notion of a Dutch Book, then all probability spaces are not susceptible to a Dutch Book. We also settle a hypothesis regarding the existence of classical extensions of a class of generalized probability spaces. (shrink)
We show a somewhat surprising result concerning the relationship between the Principal Principle and its allegedly generalized form. Then, we formulate a few desiderata concerning chance-credence norms and argue that none of the norms widely discussed in the literature satisfies all of them. We suggest that the New Principle comes out as the best contender.
We tackle two open questions from Leitgeb and Pettigrew (2010b) regarding what the belief update framework described in that paper mandates as correct responses to two problems. One of them concerns credences in overlapping propositions and is known in the literature as the “simultaneous update problem”. The other is the well known “Judy Benjamin” problem concerning conditional credences. We argue that our results concerning the problems point to deficiencies of the framework. More generally, we observe that the method of minimizing (...) inverse relative entropy seems to work better than (or at least equally well as) its competitors in many situations. (shrink)
We point out a yet unnoticed flaw in Dutch Book arguments that relates to a link between degrees of belief and betting quotients. We offer a set of precise conditions governing when a nonprobabilist is immune to the classical Dutch Book argument. We suggest that diachronic Dutch Book arguments are also affected.
In a recent paper in this Journal Iñaki San Pedro put forward a conjecture regarding the relationship between no-conspiracy and parameter independence in EPR scenarios; namely, that violation of the former implies violation of the latter. He also offered an argument supporting the conjecture. In this short note I present a method of constructing counterexamples to the conjecture and point to a mistake in the argument.
I claim that objective consequentialism faces a problem stemming from the existence in some situations of a plurality of chances relevant to the outcomes of an agent’s acts. I suggest that this phenomenon bears structural resemblance to the well-known Reference Class problem. I outline a few ways in which one could attempt to deal with the issue, suggesting that it is the higher-level chance that should be employed by OC.
In this paper we discuss the ``admissibility troubles'' for Bayesian accounts of direct inference proposed in, which concern the existence of surprising, unintuitive defeaters even for mundane cases of direct inference. We first show that one could reasonably suspect that the source of these troubles was informal talk about higher-order probabilities: for cardinality-related reasons, classical probability spaces abound in defeaters for direct inference. We proceed to discuss the issues in the context of the rigorous framework of Higher Probability Spaces. However, (...) we show that the issues persist; we prove a few facts which pertain both to classical probability spaces and to HOPs, in our opinion capturing the essence of the problem. In effect we strengthen the message from the admissibility troubles: they arise not only for approaches using classical probability spaces---which are thus necessarily informal about metaprobabilistic phenomena like agents having credences in propositions about chances---but also for at least one respectable framework specifically tailored for rigorous discussion of higher-order probabilities. (shrink)
This book collects research papers on the philosophical foundations of probability, causality, spacetime and quantum theory. The papers are related to talks presented in six subsequent workshops organized by The Budapest-Kraków Research Group on Probability, Causality and Determinism. Coverage consists of three parts. Part I focuses on the notion of probability from a general philosophical and formal epistemological perspective. Part II applies probabilistic considerations to address causal questions in the foundations of quantum mechanics. Part III investigates the question of indeterminism (...) in spacetime theories. It also explores some related questions, such as decidability and observation. The contributing authors are all philosophers of science with a strong background in mathematics or physics. They believe that paying attention to the finer formal details often helps avoiding pitfalls that exacerbate the philosophical problems that are in the center of focus of contemporary research. The papers presented here help make explicit the mathematical-structural assumptions that underlie key philosophical argumentations. This formally rigorous and conceptually precise approach will appeal to researchers and philosophers as well as mathematicians and statisticians. (shrink)
There is a remarkable similarity between some mathematical objects used in the Branching Space-Times framework and those appearing in computer science in the fields of event structures for concurrent processing and Chu spaces. This paper introduces the similarities and formulates a few open questions for further research, hoping that both BST theorists and computer scientists can benefit from the project.
In this paper we dispel the supposed ``admissibility troubles'' for Bayesian accounts of direct inference proposed by Wallmann and Hawthorne, which concern the existence of surprising, unintuitive defeaters even for mundane cases of direct inference. We show that if one follows the majority of authors in the field in using classical probability spaces unimbued with any additional structure, one should expect similar phenomena to arise and should consider them unproblematic in themselves: defeaters abound! We then show that the framework of (...) Higher Probability Spaces allows the natural modelling of the discussed cases which produces no troubles of this kind. (shrink)
Extending the ideas from (Hofer-Szabó and Rédei ), we introduce the notion of causal up-to-n-closedness of probability spaces. A probability space is said to be causally up-to-n-closed with respect to a relation of independence R_ind iff for any pair of correlated events belonging to R_ind the space provides a common cause or a common cause system of size at most n. We prove that a finite classical probability space is causally up-to-3-closed w.r.t. the relation of logical independence iff its probability (...) measure is constant on the set of atoms of non-0 probability. (The latter condition is a weakening of the notion of measure uniformity.) Other independence relations are also considered. (shrink)
One diagnosis of Bell's theorem is that its premise of Outcome Independence is unreasonably strong, as it postulates one common screener system that purports to explain all the correlations involved. This poses a challenge of constructing a model for quantum correlations that is local, non-conspiratorial, and has many separate screener systems rather than one common screener system. In particular, the assumptions of such models should not entail Bell's inequalities. We prove that the models described do not exist, and hence, the (...) diagnosis above is incorrect. (shrink)
In this paper we give a positive answer to a problem posed by G. Hofer-Szabo and M. Redei regarding the existence of infinite common cause systems. An example of a countably infinite CCS is presented, as well as the proof that no CCSs of greater cardinality exist.