Article

Probabilistic Theories

Jon Williamson

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199279739.003.0010

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Probabilistic Theories

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Causal relationships are typically accompanied by probabilistic dependencies — normally when A causes B the former raises or lowers the probability of the latter. Probabilistic theories of causality usually try to characterize or analyse causality in terms of these probabilistic dependencies: they try to provide probabilistic criteria for deciding whether A causes B, and often maintain that causality just is the corresponding pattern of probabilistic relationships. This article provides an introduction to and criticism of such accounts. While it is argued that probabilistic theories are ultimately unsuccessful, work on probabilistic causality has shed a great deal of light on the relationship between causality and probability and hence these theories repay a thorough understanding.

Keywords: causal relationship; probabilistic theories; probabilistic dependencies; causality; probabilistic criteria; probabilistic causality

Article.  11288 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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