Matching Items (7)

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Causation as Causal Influence

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This thesis proposes an extension of David Lewis's causal influence account of causation, providing a method to calculate the `degrees of causal influence.' By providing a quantitative approach to causal

This thesis proposes an extension of David Lewis's causal influence account of causation, providing a method to calculate the `degrees of causal influence.' By providing a quantitative approach to causal influence, I find that that the influence approach can assess statements that involve causal redundancies, allowing the assessor to attribute primary causal responsibility to the contending cause with a higher net influence value. The causal influence calculation also addresses criticisms towards Lewis's influence account, namely those involving `inert zones' of influence, the use of the term `might,' trumping versus symmetric overdetermination, and Lewis's clause requiring stepwise influence. This thesis also compares the results of causal influence in multiple toy cases including Two Rocks, both the asymmetric and symmetric variants, demonstrating that causal influence overcomes many of the core issues in Lewis's initial counterfactual account of causation. Using the asymmetric Two Rocks variant, this thesis also provides a detailed example of how to use the calculation and a discussion of the calculation's limitations. The main drawbacks of the quantitative method for causal influence seems to be the effort that it requires and issues in finding measurable qualities to compare the similarity/difference between possible worlds. Using the Two Rocks case, however, the causal influence calculation reaches the same conclusions as what Lewis suggests. A primary remaining issue is applying the calculation to instances of causation by omission, however this seems to only be a problem in using the equations rather than a problem within the idea of causal influence itself. Also, there may still be issues in justifying comparative overall similarity. However, this is an issue that both the counterfactual and influence accounts face.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Perceived control of the attribution process: measurement and theory

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The primary objective of this study was to develop the Perceived Control of the Attribution Process Scale (PCAPS), a measure of metacognitive beliefs of causality, or a perceived control of

The primary objective of this study was to develop the Perceived Control of the Attribution Process Scale (PCAPS), a measure of metacognitive beliefs of causality, or a perceived control of the attribution process. The PCAPS included two subscales: perceived control of attributions (PCA), and awareness of the motivational consequences of attributions (AMC). Study 1 (a pilot study) generated scale items, explored suitable measurement formats, and provided initial evidence for the validity of an event-specific version of the scale. Study 2 achieved several outcomes; Study 2a provided strong evidence for the validity and reliability of the PCA and AMC subscales, and showed that they represent separate constructs. Study 2b demonstrated the predictive validity of the scale and provided support for the perceived control of the attribution process model. This study revealed that those who adopt these beliefs are significantly more likely to experience autonomy and well-being. Study 2c revealed that these constructs are influenced by context, yet they lead to adaptive outcomes regardless of this contextual-specificity. These findings suggest that there are individual differences in metacognitive beliefs of causality and that these differences have measurable motivational implications.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Russellian Monism and Mental Causation

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Russellian monism is a promising theory of consciousness that attempts to capture the strengths of both physicalism and dualism while avoiding their weaknesses. I begin by showing that the Russellian

Russellian monism is a promising theory of consciousness that attempts to capture the strengths of both physicalism and dualism while avoiding their weaknesses. I begin by showing that the Russellian monist’s chief anti-physicalist rival, emergentism, is unable to give an adequate solution to the exclusion problem. Specifically, they fall prey to what I call “the opacity problem.” That is, because the emergentist is committed to there being both a sufficient physical cause and a sufficient mental cause for our actions, it is unclear what difference the mental cause is making in bringing about the effect. This is because, for the physical cause to truly be a sufficient cause, it must be sufficient to bring about the effect as it occurred. This distinguishes mental overdetermination from non-problematic kinds of overdetermination (like double rock throwing cases). I then show how the constitutive Russellian monist is able to avoid the exclusion problem, while the emergent Russellian monist faces similar opacity problems to emergentism. Finally, I give an account of how the constitutive Russellian monist can give a response to the strongest objection against—the subject-summing problem. I argue that we only have translucent access to our conscious states—that is, only part of the essential nature of the state is revealed to us through introspection. I then argue that we have reason to think that part of the essential nature of the conscious state not revealed to us is involved in subject-summing.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Visual analytics methodologies on causality analysis

Description

Causality analysis is the process of identifying cause-effect relationships among variables. This process is challenging because causal relationships cannot be tested solely based on statistical indicators as additional information is

Causality analysis is the process of identifying cause-effect relationships among variables. This process is challenging because causal relationships cannot be tested solely based on statistical indicators as additional information is always needed to reduce the ambiguity caused by factors beyond those covered by the statistical test. Traditionally, controlled experiments are carried out to identify causal relationships, but recently there is a growing interest in causality analysis with observational data due to the increasing availability of data and tools. This type of analysis will often involve automatic algorithms that extract causal relations from large amounts of data and rely on expert judgment to scrutinize and verify the relations. Over-reliance on these automatic algorithms is dangerous because models trained on observational data are susceptible to bias that can be difficult to spot even with expert oversight. Visualization has proven to be effective at bridging the gap between human experts and statistical models by enabling an interactive exploration and manipulation of the data and models. This thesis develops a visual analytics framework to support the interaction between human experts and automatic models in causality analysis. Three case studies were conducted to demonstrate the application of the visual analytics framework in which feature engineering, insight generation, correlation analysis, and causality inspections were showcased.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Advancing the causal theory of natural selection

Description

The Modern Synthesis embodies a theory of natural selection where selection is to be fundamentally understood in terms of measures of fitness and the covariance of reproductive success and trait

The Modern Synthesis embodies a theory of natural selection where selection is to be fundamentally understood in terms of measures of fitness and the covariance of reproductive success and trait or character variables. Whether made explicit or left implicit, the notion that selection requires that some trait variable cause reproductive success has been deemphasized in our modern understanding of exactly what selection amounts to. The dissertation seeks to advance a theory of natural selection that is fundamentally causal. By focusing on the causal nature of natural selection (rather than on fitness or statistical formulae), certain conceptual and methodological problems are seen in a new, clarifying light and avenues toward new, interesting solutions to those problems are illustrated. First, the dissertation offers an update to explicitly causal theories of when exactly a trait counts as an adaptation upon fixation in a population and draws out theoretical and practical implications for evolutionary biology. Second, I examine a case of a novel character that evolves by niche construction and argue that it evolves by selection for it and consider implications for understanding adaptations and drift. The third contribution of the dissertation is an argument for the importance of defining group selection causally and an argument against model pluralism in the levels of selection debate. Fourth, the dissertation makes a methodological contribution. I offer the first steps toward an explicitly causal methodology for inferring the causes of selection—something often required in addition to inferring the causes of reproductive success. The concluding chapter summarizes the work and discusses potential paths for future work.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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The conceptual span and plausibility of emergence applied to the problem of mental causation

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This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak

This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak and strong emergence as described by Jaegwon Kim. They also consider Kim's objections regarding the conceptual incoherence of strong emergence and the otiose nature of weak emergence. The paper then explores Mark Bedau's in-between conception of emergence and ultimately finds that middle conception to be both coherent and useful. With these three emergence distinctions in hand, the thesis goes on to explore Evan Thompson's recent work - Mind in Life (2010). In that work, Thompson advances a strong emergence approach to mind, whereby he concludes the incipient stages of cognition are found at the most basic levels of life, namely - biologic cells. Along the way, Thompson embraces holism and a nonfundamental
onhierarchical physics in order to counter Jaegwon Kim's objections to the notion of downward causation needed for strong emergence. The thesis presents arguments against Thompson's holism and nonfundamental physics, while supporting his assertion regarding the incipient stages of cognition. It then combines an important distinction between mental causation and the experience of mental causation with Thompson's notion of incipient cognition to arrive at a dual realms approach to understanding mental causation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Cause by omission and norms

Description

Saying, "if Mary had watered Sam's plant, it wouldn't have died," is an ordinary way to identify Mary not watering Sam's plant as the cause of its death. But there

Saying, "if Mary had watered Sam's plant, it wouldn't have died," is an ordinary way to identify Mary not watering Sam's plant as the cause of its death. But there are problems with this statement. If we identify Mary's omitted action as the cause, we seemingly admit an inordinate number of omissions as causes. For any counterfactual statement containing the omitted action is true (e.g. if Hillary Clinton had watered Sam's plant, it wouldn't have died). The statement, moreover, is mysterious because it is not clear why one protasis is more salient than any alternatives such as "if Sam hadn't gone to Bismarck." In the burgeoning field of experimental metaphysics, some theorists have tried to account for these intuitions about omissive causes. By synthesizing this data and providing a few experiments, I will suggest that judgments - and maybe metaphysics - about omissive causes necessarily have a normative feature. This understanding of omissive causes may be able to adequately resolve the problems above.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013