Patterns, Information, and Causation

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Andersen, H.K.
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This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. The rich causal nexus serves the role of ‘pixels’ in the Dennettian pattern ontology. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree(s) of counterfactual robustness, their causal profiles, causal connectivity, and to identify their privileged grain size or level. By doing so, I show how the philosophical notion of causation can be rendered in a format that is amenable for direct application of mathematical techniques from information theory such that the resulting informational measures are causal informational measures. This account provides a metaphysics of causation that supports interventionist semantics and causal modelling and discovery techniques.