Advertisement

Practical Causal Generalizations

  • Ernest W. Adams
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 234)

Abstract

Practical causal generalizations are of the form ‘A causes B’, where A’s are actions, as in ‘Smoking causes cancer’, and what makes these generalizations practical is that they guide persons in deciding whether to perform the actions they apply to. Though not all causal generalizations are equivalent to chance-inequalities of the form ‘the chance of B given A is greater than the chance of B without A’, it is hypothesized that this is always valid in the case of practical generalizations. This would imply that, without constraints such as temporal order or directness, Suppes’s prima facie condition of causality captures the entire content of a causal generalization of the kind we are concerned with. However, this presupposes a concept of chance that is neither subjective nor statistical, and unsystematic remarks are made on how these chances should be estimated if decisions based on them are to have the results that agents desire. Other topics touched on include the concept of a voluntary act as distinct from an ‘event’ that may happen independently of the will.

Keywords

Decision Theory Causal Claim Malaria Attack Causal Generalization Objective Chance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, E. W.: 1988, ‘Consistency and Decision: Variations on Ramseyan Themes’, in: W. L. Harper and B. Skyrms (Eds.), Causation in Decision Belief Chance, and Statistics, Vol. II, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London, pp. 49–69.Google Scholar
  2. Eells, Ellery: 1991, Probabilistic Causality, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  3. Gibbard, A. and Harper, W. L.: 1978, ‘Counterfactuals and Two Kinds of Expected Utility’, in: C. Hooker et al. (Eds.), Foundations and Applications of Decision Theory, Western Ontario Series in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 13, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  4. Jeffrey, Richard C: 1983, The Logic of Decision, 2nd Edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.Google Scholar
  5. Ramsey, F. P.: 1926, ‘Truth and Probability’, in: R. Braithwaite (Ed.), The Foundations of Probability and Other Logical Essays, Routledge and Kegan-Paul, London, pp. 158–198.Google Scholar
  6. Savage, Leonard J.: 1954, The Foundations of Statistics, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Skyrms, Brian: 1980, Causal Necessity, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.Google Scholar
  8. Suppes, Patrick: 1970, A Probabilistic Theory of Causality, North-Holland Publishing Company, Amsterdam.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest W. Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations