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Path-Specific Effects

Weinberger, Naftali (2017) Path-Specific Effects. [Preprint]

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A cause may influence its effect via multiple paths. Paradigmatically (Hesslow, 1974), taking birth control pills both decreases one’s risk of thrombosis by preventing pregnancy and increases it by producing a blood chemical. Building on Pearl (2001), I explicate the notion of a path-specific effect. Roughly, a path-specific effect of C on E via path P is the degree to which a change in C would change E were they to be transmitted only via P. Facts about such effects may be gleaned from the structural equations commonly used to represent the causal relationships among variables. I contrast my analysis of the Hesslow case with those given by theorists of probabilistic causality, who mistakenly link it to issues of causal heterogeneity, token-causation and indeterminism. The reason probabilistic theories misdiagnose this case is that they pay inadequate attention to the structural relationships among variables.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: Forthcoming in BJPS
Keywords: Causation; Causal Modeling; Counterfactuals; Probabilistic Causality; Causal Mediation; Explanation
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Mr. Naftali Weinberger
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2017 18:59
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2017 18:59
Item ID: 13345
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 26 March 2017

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