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Modeling Interventions in Multi-level Causal Systems: Supervenience, Exclusion and Underdetermination

Woodward, James (2022) Modeling Interventions in Multi-level Causal Systems: Supervenience, Exclusion and Underdetermination. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper explores some issues concerning how we should think about interventions (in the sense of unconfounded manipulations) of "upper-level" variables in contexts in which these supervene on but are not identical with lower-level realizers. It is argued that we should reject the demand that interventions on upper-level variables must leave their lower-level realizers unchanged– a requirement that within an interventionist framework would imply that upper-level variables are causally inert. Instead an intervention on an upper-level variable at the same time changes its lower-level realizer in a way that is consistent with the change in the upper- level variable. The lower-level realizer should not be regarded as a potential "confounder" of upper-level causal relations, as in "exclusionist" arguments. Several proposals for making this precise are considered and several pro-exclusionist arguments are criticized.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Woodward, Jamesjfw@pitt.edu
Keywords: Causation, Interventionism, Causal Exclusion, Graphical Causal Models, Levels
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Jim Woodward
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2022 20:51
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2022 20:51
Item ID: 21279
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-022-00486-6
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 14 October 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21279

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