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Making a DifferenceEssays on the Philosophy of Causation$
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Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock, and Huw Price

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746911.001.0001

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The Problem of Counterfactual Isomorphs

The Problem of Counterfactual Isomorphs

(p.153) 9 The Problem of Counterfactual Isomorphs
Making a Difference

Peter Menzies

Oxford University Press

Counterfactual isomorphs are pairs of systems where: (1) the pattern of counterfactual dependence among the variables is isomorphic; but (2) the relations of actual causation need not be. Counterfactual isomorphs present a prima facie challenge to any theory of actual causation that is framed in terms of counterfactuals. Menzies responds to this problem by proposing that actual causation be defined in terms of counterfactual dependence under ideal coonditions. Determination of what constitute ideal conditions is motivated by the intuition that actual causation should depend only on the intrinsic process consisting of the events connecting the cause and the effect. Since counterfactual isomorphs need not have isomorphic ideal conditions, they can differ with respect to relations of actual causation.

Keywords:   actual causation, counterfactuals, counterfactual isomorphs, ideal conditions, intrinsic process

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