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Comparing apples with oranges

Northcott, Robert (2005) Comparing apples with oranges. Analysis, 65 (1). pp. 12-18. ISSN 0003-2638


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'If two men lay bricks to build a wall, we may quite fairly measure their contributions by counting the number laid by each; but if one mixes the mortar and the other lays the bricks, it would be absurd to measure their relative quantitative contributions by measuring the volumes of bricks and of mortar' (Richard Lewontin). Thus: 'For it to make sense to ask what (or how much) a cause contributes to an effect, the various causes must be commensurable in the way they produce their effects' (Elliott Sober). These claims sound reasonable but I show on the contrary that, for their contributions to be comparable, it is neither necessary nor sufficient that two causes also be commensurable. Rather, in a sense that I discuss, what really matters is that they be separable.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: causation; commensurability; separability
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Dr Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2018 21:30
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2018 21:30
Item ID: 15412
Journal or Publication Title: Analysis
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Date: January 2005
Page Range: pp. 12-18
Volume: 65
Number: 1
ISSN: 0003-2638

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