Russo Bsps 2009

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Russo Bsps 2009

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

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