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The Direction of Causation: Ramsey's Ultimate Contingency

Huw Price
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1992, Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers (1992), pp. 253-267
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/192840
Page Count: 15
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The Direction of Causation: Ramsey's Ultimate Contingency
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Abstract

The paper criticizes the attempt to account for the direction of causation in terms of objective statistical asymmetries, such as those of the fork asymmetry. Following Ramsey, I argue that the most plausible way to account for causal asymmetry is to regard it as "put in by hand", that is as a feature that agents project onto the world. Its temporal orientation stems from that of ourselves as agents. The crucial statistical asymmetry is an anthropocentric one, namely that we take our actions to be statistically independent of everything except (what we come to call) their effects. I argue that this account explains the intuitive plausibility of Reichenbach's principle of the common cause.

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