Russo Bsps 2009
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Like this? Share it with your network


Russo Bsps 2009






Total Views
Views on SlideShare
Embed Views



0 Embeds 0

No embeds



Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft PowerPoint

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
Post Comment
Edit your comment

Russo Bsps 2009 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Generic vs. Single-Case Causality. The Case of Autopsy Federica Russo and Jon Williamson
  • 2. Outline
    • Generic vs. single-case
    • Causal epistemologies
      • Top-down; Bottom-up; Independent levels
    • Causal metaphysics
      • Generic relations primitive;
      • Single-case relations primitive; Independent levels
    • Autopsy
    • Causal epistemologies
    • and metaphysics revisited
  • 3. Generic vs. Single-Case
    • Claims at different levels
      • Smoking is a cause of lung cancer
      • Harry’s smoking is a cause of his lung cancer
    • The epistemological question
      • How can relationships at one level be
      • evidence for causal relations at the other level?
    • The metaphysical question
      • Can relationships at one level be
      • reduced to relationships at the other level?
  • 4. Causal epistemologies – 1
    • Top down
      • Epistemic access flows
      • from the top to the bottom
        • First learn about generic causal relations,
        • then via the generic infer truth of single-case claims
        • Multiple sources of (non causal) evidence: experiments, theoretical knowledge, physical mechanisms, temporal priority …
  • 5. Causal epistemologies – 2
    • Bottom up
      • Epistemic access flows
      • from the bottom to the top
        • First learn about single-case causal relations,
        • then via single-case causal knowledge infer the truth of generic causal claims
        • A natural view for those who believe that causation is directly perceivable
  • 6. Causal epistemologies – 3
    • Independent levels
      • Neither top-town nor bottom-up
        • Causal knowledge proceeds independently
        • at the single-case and generic levels
        • Motivation: squirrel-like examples
  • 7. Causal metaphysics – 1
    • Generic relations primitive
      • They help determine single-case relations
        • Difference-making shows up
        • in the succession of case (generic)
        • Derivatively, a single-case relation
        • is an application of the generic
        • A natural view for regularity, probabilistic,
        • agency theorists
  • 8. Causal metaphysics – 2
    • Single-case relations primitive
      • They help determining generic relationships
      • Difference-making manifests in the single-case
        • Proponents: probabilistic theorists appealing to single-case chances; counterfactualists à la Lewis …
      • Mechanisms are essentially single-case
        • physical processes manifesting conserved quantities;
        • connections in complex-systems mechanisms;
        • physical dispositional properties attaching to the causes;
      • Derivatively, a generic causal relation is a generalisation of underlying single-case relations.
  • 9. Causal metaphysics – 3
    • Independent levels
      • Neither is the single-case reducible to the generic
      • Nor is the generic reducible to the single-case
      • Proponents
        • Pluralists of various kinds
          • Eells:
          • probability-comparison analysis for the generic case,
          • probability-trajectory analysis for the single case
          • Weber:
          • different-making analysis for the generic case,
          • mechanistic analysis for the single case
  • 10. Autopsy
    • examination of one or more corpses, the goal of which is to establish cause, mechanism and manner of death, and to individuate any possible injury or disease
  • 11. Types of autopsies
    • Coroner
      • For uncertain or unnatural causes of death
    • Forensic
      • For medico-legal purposes (e.g., a crime)
    • Clinical/Academic
      • For medical and research purposes:
        • To determine more information about death
        • of a particular individual
        • To draw general conclusions about causes of death
        • in a population
  • 12. Autopsy: kinds of inference
    • Generic-to-Single-Case
      • Coroner/Forensic: determine causes of death in a particular case
        • Single-case non-causal evidence used in conjunction with generic difference-making and mechanistic evidence to establish a single-case causal claim
      • Epistemology:  top-down;  bottom-up;  independent
      • Metaphysics:  generic primitive;  single-case primitive;  independent
    • Single-Case-to-Generic
      • Clinical / academic: contribute to generic knowledge by determining salient population-level causes
        • Results of single autopsies are generalised to a generic causal claim
      • Epistemology:  top-down;  bottom-up;  independent-levels
      • Metaphysics:  generic primitive;  single-case primitive;  independent
  • 13. Autopsy: kinds of evidence
    • Difference-making
      • Population-wide for clinical/academic
      • Single-case for coroner/forensic
    • AND
    • Mechanistic
      • To establish a generic claim
      • To establish manners of death in the single case
  • 14. How to survive autopsy?
    • Work out a flexible causal epistemology
    • handling interplay between
    • bottom-up and top-down inferences
    • Work out an egalitarian causal metaphysics
    • with respect to the levels
  • 15. Epistemic theory, the survivor?
    • Derive metaphysics from epistemology
    • Epistemology
      • Various types of inference and of evidence allowed
      • (depending on the case at hand)
      • Evidence and inference lead to form
      • beliefs about causal relations
    • Metaphysics
      • Causal relations are analysed in terms of epistemology
      • Causation is not a fundamental relation in our ontology,
      • it does not supervene on difference-making
      • or mechanistic evidence
  • 16. Survival tips
    • Treat generic and single-case claims
    • in an egalitarian way
      • bottom-up and top-down causal discoveries
      • must be equally employed
    • Avoid confusion between evidence and concept
      • Difference-making and mechanism are
      • evidence for causal relations but
      • neither coincide with the concept of causality
    • Treat mechanisms and difference-making
    • in an egalitarian way
      • Neither is prior, superior, more primitive;
      • both are needed to establish generic
      • or single-case causal relations
  • 17. To sum up and conclude
    • Generic / single-case distinction raises questions
    • about epistemology and metaphysics
    • On offer:
      • Epistemologies: Top-down; Bottom-up; Independent levels
      • Metaphysics: Generic relations primitive; Single-case relations primitive; Independent levels
    • But no-one accounts for inference in autopsy
    • The epistemic theory survives because
      • It allows a blend of causal epistemologies
      • It does not reduce causality to either level
      • or to one of the evidential components