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Probabilistic actual causation

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Agnes Bolinska.

Actual (token) causation – the sort of causal relation asserted to hold by claims like ‘the Chicxulub impact caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event’, ‘Mr Fairchild’s exposure to asbestos caused him to suffer mesothelioma’, and ‘the H7N9 virus outbreak was caused by poultry farmers becoming simultaneously infected by bird and human ‘flu strains’ – is of significance to scientists, historians, and tort and criminal lawyers. It also plays a role in theories of various philosophically important concepts, such as action, decision, explanation, knowledge, perception, reference, and moral responsibility. Yet there is little consensus on how actual causation is to be understood, particularly where actual causes work only probabilistically. I use probabilistic causal models, and associated causal graphs, to cast some light on the nature of probabilistic actual causation.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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