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The Ontology of Causation: A Carnapian-Pragmatist Approach

Dong, Zili (2023) The Ontology of Causation: A Carnapian-Pragmatist Approach. [Preprint]

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Metaphysicians of causation have long debated the existence of primitive causal modalities (e.g., powers), with reductionists and realists taking opposing stances. However, little attention has been given to the legitimacy of the metaphysical question itself, despite our longstanding awareness of Rudolf Carnap’s critique of metaphysics. This article develops a (broadly) Carnapian-pragmatist approach to causation as an alternative to existing metaphysical approaches. Within this pragmatist approach, metaphysical questions about causation are reinterpreted as practical questions about the choice of causal frameworks. To motivate and justify this new approach, I argue that, in emphasizing the priority of ontology over methodology, metaphysical approaches to causation fail to adequately capture the interplay between causal ontology and causal methodology in scientific practice. In contrast, the Carnapian approach provides a more appealing alternative that emphasizes the mutual dependence and “balance” between the two in an ongoing process of scientific inquiry. I use the recent controversy over “What counts as a cause” in statistical causal inference as a case study to demonstrate how the Carnapian approach can help us better understand the role of ontological issues in methodological practices.

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Item Type: Preprint
Dong, Zilizdong67@uwo.ca0000-0002-3697-1592
Additional Information: This is a manuscript accepted for publication in The Journal for General Philosophy of Science. Acceptance date: Oct 20, 2023
Keywords: Causation, Causal inference, Metaontology, Rudolf Carnap, Pragmatism
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Mr. Zili Dong
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2023 20:21
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2023 20:21
Item ID: 22689
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Causation
Date: 20 October 2023

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