A new proposal how to handle counterexamples to Markov causation à la Cartwright, or: fixing the chemical factory

Alexander Gebharter, Nina Retzlaff

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Abstract

Cartwright (Synthese 121(1/2):3–27, 1999a; The dappled world, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999b) attacked the view that causal relations conform to the Markov condition by providing a counterexample in which a common cause does not screen off its effects: the prominent chemical factory. In this paper we suggest a new way to handle counterexamples to Markov causation such as the chemical factory. We argue that Cartwright’s as well as similar scenarios (such as decay processes, EPR/B experiments, or spontaneous macro breaking processes) feature a certain kind of non-causal dependence that kicks in once the common cause occurs. We then develop a representation of this specific kind of non-causal dependence that allows for modeling the problematic scenarios in such a way that the Markov condition is not violated anymore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1486
Number of pages20
JournalSynthese
Volume197
Issue number4
Early online date16-Nov-2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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