Journal Article

Against Modularity, the Causal Markov Condition, and Any Link Between the Two: Comments on Hausman and Woodward

Nancy Cartwright

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 53, issue 3, pages 411-453
Published in print September 2002 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2002 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/53.3.411
Against Modularity, the Causal Markov Condition, and Any Link Between the Two: Comments on Hausman and Woodward

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In their rich and intricate paper ‘Independence, Invariance, and the Causal Markov Condition’, Daniel Hausman and James Woodward ([1999]) put forward two independent theses, which they label ‘level invariance’ and ‘manipulability’, and they claim that, given a specific set of assumptions, manipulability implies the causal Markov condition. These claims are interesting and important, and this paper is devoted to commenting on them. With respect to level invariance, I argue that Hausman and Woodward's discussion is confusing because, as I point out, they use different senses of ‘intervention’ and ‘invariance’ without saying so. I shall remark on these various uses and point out that the thesis is true in at least two versions. The second thesis, however, is not true. I argue that in their formulation, the manipulability thesis is patently false and that a modified version does not fare better. Furthermore, I think their proof that manipulability implies the causal Markov condition is not conclusive. In the deterministic case it is valid but vacuous, whereas it is invalid in the probabilistic case.

1 Introduction

2 Intervention, invariance and modularity

3 The causal Markov condition: CM1 and CM2

4 From MOD to the causal Markov condition and back

5 A second argument for CM2

6 The proof of the causal Markov condition for probabilistic causes

7 ‘Cartwright's objection’ defended

8 Metaphysical defenses of the causal Markov condition

9 Conclusion

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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