An Epistemology of Causal Inference from Experiment

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Zwier, Karen R.
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conference paper description
The manipulationist account of causation provides a conceptual analysis of cause-effect relationships in terms of hypothetical experiments. It also explains why and how experiments are used for the empirical testing of causal claims. This paper attempts to apply the manipulationist account of causation to a broader range of experiments—a range that extends beyond experiments explicitly designed for the testing of causal claims. I aim to show (1) that the set of causal inferences afforded by an experiment is determined solely on the basis of contrasting case structures that I call “experimental series”, and (2) that the conditions that suffice for causal inference obtain quite commonly, even among “ordinary” experiments that are not explicitly designed for the testing of causal claims.