Applying Causal Modeling to Philosophical Issues (Sander Beckers)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on September 17th from 4:15-6:15 in room 4419 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Sander Beckers (Utrecht).

Title: Applying Causal Modeling to Philosophical Issues

Abstract: Causal modeling was developed within Artificial Intelligence over the last few decades in order to formally capture causal information, which is notably absent from statistics. Aside from the undeniable impact this has had on Artificial Intelligence, where talk of causal networks has become commonplace, the resulting formalisms were also eagerly picked up by philosophers working on causation. In particular, causal modeling has been used rather successfully in constructing formal definitions of actual causation, aka token causation. Given that actual causation occupies a crucial role in many issues in philosophy, causal modeling is a helpful tool to anyone studying those issues, that much is obvious. However, I argue that even in the absence of any definition of causation, causal modeling can still be put to significant use in order to resolve these issues. Concretely, my talk will consist of three parts. First I introduce my own definition of causation using causal models. Second I illustrate how causal models can be used to clarify and possibly settle the debate about Frankfurt-style cases and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. Third I use causal models to sketch the position of non-reductive physicalism, and show how this allows it to tackle the famous Exclusion Argument.

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