Causation in Science

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Woodward, James
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This article discusses some philosophical theories of causation and their application to several areas of science. Topics addressed include regularity, counterfactual, and causal process theories of causation; the causal interpretation of structural equation models and directed graphs; independence assumptions in causal reasoning; and the role of causal concepts in physics. In connection with this last topic, this article focuses on the relationship between causal asymmetries, the time-reversal invariance of most fundamental physical laws, and the significance of differences among varieties of differential equations (e.g., hyperbolic versus non-hyperbolic) in causal interpretation. It concludes with some remarks about “grounding” special science causal generalizations in physics.