Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There has been in the last decade or so an upsurge of interest in causation outside of philosophy. One important strand of research focuses on how statistical data can be used to draw inferences about causal structures. Central to this approach are ‘causal models’, intended to represent systems of ‘variables’ connected by ‘mechanisms’. By careful appeal to and analysis of such causal models, it is possible to develop subtle ways of empirically testing causal hypotheses in light of statistical data. But two serious problems as yet prevent this approach from attaining the kind of scientific rigour it ought to have. Both are foundational. First, crucial notions — most notably, the notion of a ‘mechanism’ — are left almost wholly obscure, in a way which makes it impossible to say anything general or informative about what makes any given situation apt for description by one causal model rather than another. Secondly, the way causal models are typically used draws no distinction whatsoever between ordinary causal processes and causal connections involving omissions.

Keywords: causation, causal structures, causal models, empirical testing, causal hypothesis, causal processes

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.