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Bayesian Philosophy of Science$
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Jan Sprenger and Stephan Hartmann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672110

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199672110.001.0001

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Causal Strength

Causal Strength

(p.155) Variation 6: Causal Strength
Bayesian Philosophy of Science

Jan Sprenger

Stephan Hartmann

Oxford University Press

The question “When is C a cause of E?” is well-studied in philosophy—much more than the equally important issue of quantifying the causal strength between C and E. In this chapter, we transfer methods from Bayesian Confirmation Theory to the problem of explicating causal strength. We develop axiomatic foundations for a probabilistic theory of causal strength as difference-making and proceed in three steps: First, we motivate causal Bayesian networks as an adequate framework for defining and comparing measures of causal strength. Second, we demonstrate how specific causal strength measures can be derived from a set of plausible adequacy conditions (method of representation theorems). Third, we use these results to argue for a specific measure of causal strength: the difference that interventions on the cause make for the probability of the effect. An application to outcome measures in medicine and discussion of possible objections concludes the chapter.

Keywords:   causation, causal strength, Bayesian Confirmation Theory, axiomatic method, representation theorems, causal Bayesian Networks, difference-making, outcome measures in medicine

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