Abstract/Details

Probabilistic empiricism: In defence of a Reichenbachian theory of causation and the direction of time


2000 2000

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Abstract (summary)

A probabilistic theory of causation is a theory which holds that the central feature of causation is that causes (usually) raise the probability of their effects. In this dissertation, I defend Hans Reichenbach's original (1953) version of the probabilistic theory of causation, which analyses causal relations in terms of a three place statistical betweenness relation. Unlike most discussions of this theory, I hold that the statistical relation should be taken as a sufficient, but not as a necessary , condition for causal betweenness. With this difference in interpretation, Reichenbach's theory is shown to be immune to all of the criticisms which have been raised against it in the last fifty years.

Reichenbach's main purpose in defending a probabilistic theory of causation was to use it in giving an analysis of the direction of time. I defend this view, arguing that the arrow of causation is more basic than any of the other arrows of time—metaphysical, psychological or physical. In particular, I argue against the popular view that the direction of time is given by the physical fact that entropy only increases in one direction. I further show that the probabilistic theory of causation is particularly suited to the task of analysing the various arrows of time. In my final chapter, I also suggest that the probabilistic theory of causation may be fruitfully applied to the analysis of some important puzzles in the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Philosophy
Classification
0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Causation; Direction of time; Empiricism; Hans Reichenbach; Probabilistic; Reichenbach, Hans
Title
Probabilistic empiricism: In defence of a Reichenbachian theory of causation and the direction of time
Author
Martel, Iain Thomas
Number of pages
177
Publication year
2000
Degree date
2000
School code
0051
Source
DAI-A 61/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780599854437, 059985443X
Advisor
Tooley, Michael
University/institution
University of Colorado at Boulder
University location
United States -- Colorado
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
9979373
ProQuest document ID
304590816
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304590816/abstract
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