Causality and Unification: How Causality Unifies Statistical Regularities

Gerhard Schurz

Abstract


Two key ideas of scientific explanation - explanations as causal information and explanation as unification - have frequently been set into mutual opposition.  This paper proposes a "dialectical solution" to this conflict, by arguing that causal explanations are preferable to non-causal explanations because they lead to a higher degree of unification at the level of the explanation of statistical regularities. The core axioms of the theory of causal nets (TC) are justified because they give the best if not the only unifying explanation of two statistical phenomena: screening off and linking up. Alternative explanation attempts are discussed and it is shown why they don't work. It is demonstrated that not the core of TC but extended versions of TC have empirical content, by means of which they can generate independently testable predictions.

Keywords


Unification, explanation, causality, theory of causal nets, screening off, linking up

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/theoria.11913

 

 

 

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