PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Causation, Information and Specificity

One important way in which the causes of an effect can differ concerns their degree of specificity: the extent to which variation in the cause would have produced variation in the effect. Several recent theories entail that specificity is partly a function of the extent to which relevant variation in the cause has actually occurred. In this paper I argue that this is a mistake, and that the specificity of a cause is instead partly a function of the space of relevant alternatives. I then argue that this requires a reinterpretation of a recent information-theoretic account of specificity.

Author Information:

Brad Weslake    
Department of Philosophy
NYU Shanghai

 

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