Causality in the Sciences

Edited by Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo and Jon Williamson

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199574131
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728921 | DOI:
Causality in the Sciences

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There is a need for integrated thinking about causality, probability, and mechanism in scientific methodology. A panoply of disciplines, ranging from epidemiology and biology through to econometrics and physics, routinely make use of these concepts to infer causal relationships. But each of these disciplines has developed its own methods, where causality and probability often seem to have different understandings, and where the mechanisms involved often look very different. This variegated situation raises the question of whether progress in understanding the tools of causal inference in some sciences can lead to progress in other sciences, or whether the sciences are really using different concepts. Causality and probability are long-established central concepts in the sciences, with a corresponding philosophical literature examining their problems. The philosophical literature examining the concept of mechanism, on the other hand, is more recent and there has been no clear account of how mechanisms relate to causality and probability. If we are to understand causal inference in the sciences, we need to develop some account of the relationship between causality, probability, and mechanism. This book represents a joint project by philosophers and scientists to tackle this question, and related issues, as they arise in a wide variety of disciplines across the sciences.

Keywords: causality; causal inference; probability; mechanism; philosophy of science; epistemology; metaphysics

Book.  952 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Logic

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Causal thinking in Causality in the Sciences


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