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The Conserved Quantity Theory of Causation and Chance Raising


Dowe, P, The Conserved Quantity Theory of Causation and Chance Raising, Philosophy of Science, 66, (3) pp. S486-501. ISSN 0031-8248 (1999) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1086/392747


In this paper I offer an 'integrating account' of singular causation, where the term 'integrating' refers to the following program for analysing causation. There are two intuitions about causation, both of which face serious counterexamples when used as the basis for an analysis of causation. The 'process' intuition, which says that causes and effects are linked by concrete processes, runs into trouble with cases of 'misconnections', where an event which serves to prevent another fails to do so on a particular occasion and yet the two events are linked by causal processes. The chance raising intuition, according to which causes raise the chance of their effects, easily accounts for misconnections but faces the problem of chance lowering causes, a problem easily accounted for by the process approach. The integrating program attempts to provide an analysis of singular causation by synthesising the two insights, so as to solve both problems. In this paper I show that extant versions of the integrating program due to Eells, Lewis, and Menzies fail to account for the chance-lowering counterexample. I offer a new diagnosis of the chance lowering case, and use that as a basis for an integrating account of causation which does solve both cases. In doing so, I accept various assumptions of the integrating program, in particular that there are no other problems with these two approaches. As an example of the process account, I focus on the recent CQ theory of Wesley Salmon (1997). Copyright 1999 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Metaphysics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Dowe, P (Mr Phil Dowe)
ID Code:17013
Year Published:1999
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:1999-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-05

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