Lecture 34 woodward on manipulation and causation

This book defends what I call amanipulationist or interventionistaccount of explanation andcausation. According to thisaccount, causal and explanatoryrelationships are relationships thatare potentially exploitable forpurposes of manipulation andcontrol. (v) Manipulationist theory of causation (rough statement) “X causes Y ” means that manipulating or changing X wouldchange Y .
The position of a light switch is a cause of the light being onbecause we can change whether the light is on bymanipulating the switch.
The reading on a barometer is not a cause of rain because wecannot change whether it rains by manipulating the barometerreading.
This theory has been endorsed by many scientists but fewphilosophers.
Regularity theory of causation (simple version) “X causes Y ” means that all occurrences of X are followed byoccurrences of Y .
Let X be that a man takes birth control pills; let Y be that theman does not become pregnant.
On the regularity theory, X causes Y . (Wrong!) On the manipulationist theory, X does not cause Y . (Right!) A theory of causation is reductive if it defines causal concepts interms of non-causal concepts.
Woodward’s manipulationist theory isn’t reductive. Reasons: For an action or event I to constitute a manipulation of avariable X , there must be a causal relationship between I andX . (28)I must be an event or process with a very special kind ofcausal structure, and to characterize this structure we mustmake extensive use of causal notions . . . (I call a manipulationwith the right sort of structure an intervention.) (28) A theory of causation can be informative without beingreductive, by showing how causal concepts are interconnected.
Particular unrepeatable occurrences, e.g., a specific episode ofaspirin ingestion by a particular person. (Event tokens) Types of occurrences that can be repeated on manyoccasions, e.g., ingestion of aspirin. (Event types).
Token-causal claims: relate event tokens.
Type-causal claims: relate event types.
A specific episode of aspirin ingestion by Smith caused aspecific episode of headache recovery.
Ingestion of aspirin causes relief from headache.
A variable is something that can take more than one value.
Woodward talks of causation as a relation between variables,where the variables have event types as their values.
relief from headache occurs, does not occur If X and Y are variables, Woodward uses the following termsinterchangeably: The claim that X causes Y means that for at least someindividuals, there is a possible manipulation of some value of Xthat they possess, which, given other appropriate conditions . . .
will change the value of Y or the probability distribution of Y forthose individuals.
A causes H in this sense if either of these holds: A person who has not taken aspirin, and has a headache,would not have a headache if they took aspirin.
A person who has not taken aspirin, and does not have aheadache, would have a headache if they took aspirin.
Causal structures can be represented by a directed graph.
A directed edge (line) from X to Y represents that X causesY directly (i.e., not via one of the other variables.) If X1, . . . , Xm are all the direct causes of Y then we can write: This is understood as encoding counterfactual information abouthow Y would change under manipulations of its direct causes.
If Y = 3X1 + 4X2, and we set X1 = 2 and X2 = 5 bymanipulations, then Y will take the value 26.
Equations give more information than graphs.
implies that Y = F (X1, X2) but does not state the function F .
Direct causes may act independently.
If Z = aX + bY , changing Y by ∆Y will change Z by b∆Y ,regardless of the value of X .
Or they may interact with one another.
S = 1 if a short circuit occurs, 0 otherwise.
O = 1 if oxygen is present, 0 otherwise.
F = 1 if a fire occurs, 0 otherwise.
Assume F = SO. Then manipulating S alters F when O = 1 buthas no effect when O = 0.
This difference is not reflected in the graphs, which have the samestructure.
What does it mean for a theory of causation to be reductive?Give an example of a reductive theory of causation.
Is Woodward’s manipulability theory of causation reductive?Explain.
Give an example of your own of (a) a token-causal claim, and(b) a type-causal claim.
Let S be the variable with values {smokes, does not smoke}and let D be the variable with values {develops lung cancer,does not develop lung cancer}. If S causes D, in Woodward’ssense, does it follow that smoking raises the probability ofdeveloping lung cancer? Explain.
Draw the graph of the causal structure when Y = X1X2 + X3.
Write equations that give the following causal structure: James Woodward.
Making Things Happen.
Oxford University Press, 2003.
Online at Numbers in parentheses are page numbers of this book.

Source: http://patrick.maher1.net/270/lectures/wood1.pdf


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