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Direct Causes and the Trouble with Soft Interventions

Eberhardt, Frederick (2014) Direct Causes and the Trouble with Soft Interventions. Erkenntnis, 79 (4). pp. 755-777. ISSN 0165-0106. doi:10.1007/s10670-013-9552-2.

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An interventionist account of causation characterizes causal relations in terms of changes resulting from particular interventions. I provide a new example of a causal relation for which there does not exist an intervention satisfying the common interventionist standard. I consider adaptations that would save this standard and describe their implications for an interventionist account of causation. No adaptation preserves all the aspects that make the interventionist account appealing. Part of the fallout is a clearer account of the difficulties in characterizing so-called “soft” interventions.

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Additional Information:© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Received: 14 March 2013; Accepted: 6 October 2013; Published online: 22 October 2013. Many people, including many who are not proponents of the interventionist account of causation, have reacted with discomfort or at least some surprise to my presentation of model T and C. I have benefitted enormously from their reactions and discussions with them. In particular, I would like to thank (in alphabetical order) Clark Glymour, Dominik Janzing, Conor Mayo-Wilson, Richard Scheines, Peter Spirtes, Jim Woodward and Jiji Zhang. The models are a development of ones that are indistinguishable by single interventions only, which I worked on in a different context with Antti Hyttinen and Patrik Hoyer. I would also like to thank five anonymous reviewers who pressed me to distinguish more explicitly the case presented here from traditional violations of faithfulness discussed in the literature. This research was supported by a grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
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James S. McDonnell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141023-135945304
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Official Citation:Eberhardt, F. Erkenn (2014) 79: 755. doi:10.1007/s10670-013-9552-2
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:50747
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Oct 2014 23:26
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:00

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