By Phil Dowe, Paul Noordhof
Reason and probability is a suite of especially written papers by way of world-class metaphysicians. Its concentration is the issues dealing with the "reductionist" method of causation: the try and hide every kind of causation, deterministic and indeterministic, with one easy concept.
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Extra info for Cause and Chance
1 P(III–IV) = 1 In our particular case we get the decay sequence I–II–IV. We want to say that the decay of atom I to II is a cause of the production of atom IV. 1 < P(E|~C & K) = 1, taking ~C to be the class of events such that atom I decays to III. 1 < ch ~C(E) = 1, again, the closest ~C-worlds are worlds in which atom I decays to III. 55 or atom I decaying to II and ch ~C(E) = 1. But either way we have chance-lowering. The strategy of fine-graining the cause cannot work here, because, besides the time of the cause, there is no further fact about the decay which is going to change the chances.
Thus (CCT), and therewith (IC), is saved – once we interpret ‘chance’ as ‘chance relative to a process’ rather than the usual ‘all things considered’ kind. For example, in the bus–brick case, pushing Edna out of the path of the bus and into the path of the brick initiates two different ‘processes’. On the one hand, the push initiates a genuine causal process (in the intuitive sense described earlier) which in fact culminates in Edna’s demise. On the other, the push initiates another ‘process’ that might (and indeed is intended to) save Edna’s life.
Alleged cases of chance-decreasing causation create a problem not just for the prospects of providing necessary and sufficient conditions for causation in terms of causal processes plus chance increase; they also create a problem for what Phil Dowe calls the ‘Chance Changing Thesis’ (hereafter (CCT)): 42 Helen Beebee (CCT) c promotes or tends to cause e when c raises the chance of e, and c causes e when c successfully promotes e (in other words when c raises the chance of e and e occurs). 8 (CCT) is an appealing thesis, and one that Dowe wants to uphold.