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The metaphysics of interventionist causal modelling

Pine, Elliot; (2008) The metaphysics of interventionist causal modelling. Masters thesis (MPhil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis critically examines a theory of causation called "interventionism", along a number of different dimensions. Interventionism is a manipulationist theory of causation, in that it seeks to give an account of what it is to cause something by reference to what it would take to bring about change in a given variable via a manipulation of some variable causally upstream from it. The manipulation in question happens via an intervention - an idealized "reaching in" to the system under investigation, in order to set the value of the cause variable artificially. The definition of causation thus relies on the notion of a causal system, or model. The thesis explores what interventionism is a theory of. It turns out not to be giving a metaphysical account of causation, but is better seen as a theory of how to capture the meaning of causal statements. A number of criticisms of interventionism are deflected. One is that the theory is irredeemably circular. Another is that it is not equipped to deal with certain cases of pre-emption. A third criticism is that it cannot be a fully objective theory, since it defines causation relative to a set of variables, presumably chosen by a modeler. Finally, I show that, though interventionism tries to stay as metaphysically neutral as possible, this neutrality cannot be maintained for cases of genuine indeterministic causation. Specifically, I show that it is incompatible with singularism - the doctrine that, though causes can be indeterministic, they must always be determinate.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: MPhil
Title: The metaphysics of interventionist causal modelling
Identifier: PQ ETD:593736
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446348
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