LIRa session: Dean McHugh

Speaker: Dean McHugh

Date and Time: Thursday, March 5th 2020, 16:30-18:30

Venue: ILLC Seminar Room F1.15, Science Park 107.

Title: Causality = time + modality + effective difference-making


Causal reasoning is the paradigm form of explanatory reasoning, essential to both purposeful action and the scientific method. But an adequate analysis of causal reasoning remains to be found. This talk contributes to the analysis of causal reasoning by seeking to answer two questions that any theory of causality must face. First, what kind of information do we use when we judge that a causal relation holds? That is, what kind of information should models of causality contain? Second, what does it mean for a causal claim to be true?
We will address the modelling question by focusing on the role of time and modality, proposing to represent causality via dynamical systems, and comparing the resulting approach to models of causation as directed acyclic graphs (as proposed, for example, by Judea Pearl). We analyze the truth conditions of causal claims by building on the work of Carolina Sartorio, Joseph Halpern and Sander Beckers. In particular, we seek answers to the following two questions: in what sense, if any, do causes ‘make’ their effects occur? And in what sense, if any, do causes ‘make a difference’ to their effects?