Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Daniel Little — New thinking about causal mechanisms

Everyone is familiar with the nostrum, "correlation is not causality." Simply put, correlation can potentially identify input-output relationships with a certain degree of probability. But the relationship is a "black box."

Causal explanation involves opening the box and examining the contents. Correlation shows that something happens; causality in science explains how it happens, elucidating transmission in terms of operations. In formal systems the operators are rules, e.g., expressible by mathematical functions.

Generally speaking correlation is probabilistic, whereas causality is deterministic. Causes are logically antecedent to effects, but arguments based on prior occurrence are post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies.

There is also probabilistic causation.
Informally, A probabilistically causes B if A's occurrence increases the probability of B. This is sometimes interpreted to reflect imperfect knowledge of a deterministic system but other times interpreted to mean that the causal system under study has an inherently indeterministic nature.
Causality in philosophy involves provision of an account of why something happens based on principles.

Causation is at the heart of the fundamental problems in philosophy of science. It's exploration began in the West in earnest with Aristotle and it has become one of the enduring questions.

Understanding Society
New thinking about causal mechanisms
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

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Ryan Harris said...
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