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Published December 1996 | public
Journal Article

Causal Decision Theory and Decision-theoretic Causation


[Introduction] Probabilistic theories of causation and probabilistic theories of rational decision both face difficulties from spurious probabilistic correlations. Both types of theory handle these difficulties in the same manner: the spurious correlations are made to disappear by conditionalizing upon the elements of a carefully chosen partition. The structural similarity between the two types of theory suggests a systematic connection between them. One view -the view reflected in the name 'causal decision theory'- has it that the theory of causation is conceptually prior to that of decision: causal decision theory has the structure it does because it aims to tell us about the expected effects of our actions. But then we may ask from whence probabilistic theories of causation inherit their mathematical structure. In this paper, I will explore the prospects for a 'decision-theoretic causation' that explains the mathematical structure of a probabilistic theory of causation using a conceptually prior decision theory.

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© 1996 Blackwell Publishers Inc.

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