Social Philosophy

Download A Theory of Causation in the Social and Biological Sciences by A. Reutlinger PDF

By A. Reutlinger

This primary complete size therapy of interventionist theories of causation within the social sciences, the organic sciences and different higher-level sciences the offers unique counter arguments to contemporary developments within the debate and serves as precious advent to the topic.

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A further observation can be made about the peculiar feature of model-relativity that inheres in the interventionist approach. Causal concepts are defined relative to a ‘set of variables’ or a causal model. Also the truth conditions for causal claims are stated relative to a ‘set of variables’ or a causal model. It is, however, not evident how these models relate to the world (cf. Strevens 2007, 2008 for a discussion of model-relativity). In other words, it is not evident why one ought to believe that a given causal model is a representation of the world – be it for the reason that the model is true, or that it is isomorphic or homomorphic to the target system that the model is intended to represent.

More precisely, it specifies the relation between some variable X and its parents. 10 Structural equations A Bayesian network is supposed to provide causal information. 11 Structural equations provide the most precise description of the relations in a graph: the equations represent how a variable depends on another. Structural equations describe these relations among variables with greater precision than the directed arrows in a DAG. A structural equation determines the value of a dependent variable Y, the effect, given a (set of) endogenous variable(s) X, the direct causes or causal parents of Y, and the exogenous variables Ui.

I also explain how these definitions are to be taken in the opening pages of M[aking] T[hings] H[appen] (pp. 7–9): they are definitions in the sense that, say, a mathematician might define the notion of continuity of a function in terms of the notion of an open neighborhood. Such definitions are to be judged by their usefulness for various purposes – in capturing previous usage, in clarifying notions that were previously unclear and distinguishing them from related but different notions, in establishing fruitful connections with other concepts and so on, rather than in terms of whether they adequately capture fundamental metaphysical relationships.

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