Practical Causal Generalizations

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 234)


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.


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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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