Going Against the Grain of Proportionality

In Chapter 1 of Causation with a Human Face, James Woodward articulates the metaphilosophical outlook on causation that gives his book its title. He tells us that his aim is to articulate a normative theory about how human beings ought to engage in causal reasoning. However, he believes that when …

Proportionality and Causal Dependence

James Woodward’s Causation with a Human Face defends three methodological proposals: (I) The empirical study of causal reasoning can fruitfully inform the philosophical analysis of causation, and vice versa. (II) Philosophers should attend to distinctions among different kinds of causal relationship, and not just the distinction between causal and non-causal relationships. (III) …

Humans’ Invariance Assumption: Should Statistics and AI Adopt It?

“What must nature, including man, be like in order that science be possible at all? … What must the world be like in order that man may know it?”, the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn (1962/2012, p. 172) asks in the final paragraph of his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.   …

Invariance: Some Experimental Results

In the previous post I claimed that assumptions about invariance play a substantial role in causal judgment and reasoning. In this post I focus on some experimental  and theoretical work by psychologists illustrating this. In that literature it is a very common practice to ask subjects to make graded judgments about …

Woodward on Invariance across Background Conditions

One of Woodward’s most important contributions to the study of causation is his introduction of the notion of invariance across background conditions. Woodward’s ideas on this topic have had a major influence on experimental research in causal cognition (including on my own work), and I thought it might be helpful to do …

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