Useful Complex Causality

David Byrne and Emma Uprichard

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392753
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Useful Complex Causality

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This article, which discusses the notion of variables as variate traces; the notions of difference and continuity as control parameters; and the notion of effects as trajectories of complex systems over time, argues that the entities which matter in relation to causality are not variables but systems. Any focus on difference and change needs to be done alongside that similarity and continuity. The point about similar and different initial conditions leading to similar and different outcomes derives from the significance of path dependency in social causality. There are at least three important implications to considering effects as trajectories: classification, the ontological propensity of the case, and time. Statistical modeling based on data sets, including modeling based on longitudinal data series, is always retroductive.

Keywords: variables; complex systems; social causality; trajectories; statistical modeling; data sets; difference; continuity; path dependency

Article.  10960 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Metaphysics

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