Probabilistic Causation
Hitchcock (Christopher)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 1997-2018
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. “Probabilistic Causation”1 designates a group of theories that aim to characterize the relationship between cause and effect using the tools of probability theory. The central idea behind these theories is that causes change the probabilities of their effects. This article traces developments in probabilistic causation2, including recent developments in causal modeling. A variety of issues within, and objections to, probabilistic theories of causation3 will also be discussed.
  2. This entry surveys the main approaches to characterizing causation4 in terms of probability.
    • Section 1 provides some of the motivation for probabilistic approaches to causation5, and addresses a few preliminary issues.
    • Section 2 surveys theories that aim to characterize causation6 in terms of probability-raising.
    • Section 3 surveys developments in causal modeling. Some of the more technical details have been relegated to the supplements.
    • Additional probabilistic approaches to causation7 are surveyed in Section 4 and in the supplements.

  1. Motivation and Preliminaries
    → 1.1 Problems for Regularity Theories
    → 1.2 Probability
    → 1.3 Causal Relata
    → 1.4 The Interpretation of Probability
  2. Probability-raising Theories of Causation8
    → 2.1 Probability-raising and Conditional Probability
    → 2.2 Screening off
    → 2.3 The Common Cause Principle
    → 2.4 The Fork Asymmetry
    → 2.5 Simpson's Paradox and Background Contexts
    → 2.6 Other Causal Relations
    → 2.7 Population-relativity
    → 2.8 Contextual-unanimity
    → 2.9 Path-specific Causation9
    → 2.10 Potential Counterexamples
    → 2.11 Singular and General Causation10
  3. Causal Modeling
    → 3.1 Causal Models
    → 3.2 The Markov Condition
    → 3.3 The Causal Markov Condition
    → 3.4 The Minimality and Faithfulness Conditions
    → 3.5 Unshielded Colliders and Asymmetry
    → 3.6 Intervention
    → 3.7 Statistical Distinguishability and Reduction
  4. Other Theories
    → 4.1 Counterfactual Theories
    → 4.2 The Canberra Plan
    → 4.3 Interventionist Theories
    → 4.4 Singular Causation11 and the Evolution of Probabilities in Time
    Other Internet Resources
    Related Entries

  1. Suppes' Motivation for the No-screening-off Condition
  2. Common Confusions Involving the Common Cause Principle
  3. The Fork Asymmetry and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
  4. Contextual-unanimity and Dupré's Critique
  5. The Markov Condition
  6. Three Results Concerning Statistical Distinguishability
  7. Singular Causation12 and the Evolution of Probabilities in Time
  8. Notes to Probabilistic Causation13


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