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::: center home >> events >> salmon >> abstracts

Friday, March 23, 2018

Nancy Cartwright, UCSD & Durham University
Friday, March 23, 2018
3:30 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Causal Processes & Causal Interactions: Warranting Causation in the Single Case

Abstract:  Did the provision of free school uniforms produce reductions in teen pregnancy and dropout rates in any of the three Kenyan sites where this program was introduced? This is a question about singular causation – did this putative cause produce the given effect in this specific situation – just like verdicts about guilt or innocence of a defendant in a legal trial. How do we warrant answers? Wesley Salmon taught us to think of singular causation in terms of causal interactions and causal processes. I shall pursue this idea by presenting a schema for modelling the causal possibilities in specific settings – this setting, here, now – that explicitly references key interactions and implicitly represents the processes that connect them. Salmon’s concerns were primarily ontological, to explain what causation in the single case amounts to. Mine are epistemological, to explain how we can warrant singular causal claims, and especially, how we can establish relevance. I shall argue that the kinds of facts we typically adduce as evidence in the single case are indeed evidence because they help identify key features in the interaction/process model of causal possibilities. My defense of this is underwritten by what I call the argument theory of evidence, which closely parallels the ‘material theory of induction’ developed by John Norton at about the same time for different purposes.


Revised 2/23/18 - Copyright 2009