Logic and Language

Sander Beckers: A Functional Account of Causation

Speaker: Sander Beckers
Title: A Functional Account of Causation
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: SP107 F1.15 (ILLC Seminar Room)

[Warning: This is WIP] The development of Structural Causal Models has led to dozens of proposals for defining actual causation, which is the concept at work in statements involving causation of particular events, such as when Suzy’s rock causes a bottle to shatter. Most of these proposals are motivated almost exclusively on the basis of allegedly shared intuitions about simplistic examples. Yet for many examples intuitions diverge widely, even across examples whose causal structures appear to be identical. Furthermore, often a single example can be modelled sensibly in different ways that lead to conflicting verdicts of causation. Therefore I propose defining actual causation in a different manner altogether. Concretely, I first define a very general notion of functional dependence. Second, I show that this notion of dependence by itself is expressive enough to capture all interesting causal properties of a causal model. Third, I then define actual causation simply as the actual occurrence of functional dependence.