Causal concepts and temporal ordering

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Though common sense says that causes must temporally precede their effects, the hugely influential interventionist account of causation makes no reference to temporal precedence. Does common sense lead us astray? In this paper, I evaluate the power of the commonsense assumption from within the interventionist approach to causal modeling. I first argue that if causes temporally precede their effects, then one need not consider the outcomes of interventions in order to infer causal relevance, and that one can instead use temporal and probabilistic information to infer exactly when X is causally relevant to Y in each of the senses captured by Woodward’s interventionist treatment. Then, I consider the upshot of these findings for causal decision theory, and argue that the commonsense assumption is especially powerful when an agent seeks to determine whether so-called “dominance reasoning” is applicable.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Stern, R

Published Date

  • November 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 198 /

Start / End Page

  • 6505 - 6527

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0964

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0039-7857

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11229-019-02235-4

Citation Source

  • Scopus