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On Reichenbach's Principle of the Common Cause

University of Konstanz, GERMANY, KOPS

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Title On Reichenbach's Principle of the Common Cause
Creator Spohn, Wolfgang
Subject Philosophy
Description This paper deals with Hans Reichenbach's common cause principle. It was propounded by him in (1956, ch. 19), and has been developed and widely applied by Wesley Salmon, e.g. in (1978) and (1984, ch. 8). Thus, it has become one of the focal points of the continuing discussion of causation. The paper addresses five questions. Section 1 asks: What does the principle say? And section 2 asks: What is its philosophical significance? The most important question, of course, is this: Is the principle true? To answer that question, however, one must first consider how one might one argue about it at all. One can do so by way of examples, the subject of section 3, or more theoretically, which is the goal of section 4. Based on an explication of probabilistic causation proposed by me in (1980), (1983), and (1990), section 4 shows that a variant of the principle is provable within a classical framework. The question naturally arises whether the proved variant is adequate, or too weak. This is pursued in section 5. My main conclusion will be that some version of Reichenbach's principle is provably true, and others may be. This may seem overly ambitious, but it is not. The paper does not make any progress on essential worries about the common cause principle arising in the quantum domain; it only establishes more rigorously what has been thought to be plausible at least within a classical framework.
Publisher Universit├Ąt Konstanz
Fachbereich Philosophie. Fachbereich Philosophie
Date 1994
Type InProceedings
Format application/pdf
Identifier urn:nbn:de:bsz:352-opus-63418
Source First publ. in: Logic, Language, and the Structure of Scientific Theories : proceedings of the Carnap-Reichenbach Centennial, University of Konstanz, 21 - 24 may 1991/ ed. by Wesley Salmon ... Konstanz : Univ.-Verl. Konstanz, 1994, pp. 215-239
Language eng