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Patterns, Information, and Causation

Andersen, H.K. (2017) Patterns, Information, and Causation. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. The rich causal nexus serves the role of ‘pixels’ in the Dennettian pattern ontology. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree(s) of counterfactual robustness, their causal profiles, causal connectivity, and to identify their privileged grain size or level. By doing so, I show how the philosophical notion of causation can be rendered in a format that is amenable for direct application of mathematical techniques from information theory such that the resulting informational measures are causal informational measures. This account provides a metaphysics of causation that supports interventionist semantics and causal modelling and discovery techniques.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Andersen, H.K.handerse@sfu.ca
Additional Information: forthcoming, The Journal of Philosophy
Keywords: causation; information; patterns; counterfactuals; interventionism; causal modeling; Salmon; Woodward; Dennett
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Computation/Information
Depositing User: Dr. Holly Andersen
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2017 13:05
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 13:05
Item ID: 13143
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Computation/Information
Date: June 2017
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/13143

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