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Chapter 7

PHI 1101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Bone Density, Canadian Auto Workers, Childrens Hospital


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHI 1101
Professor
Mark Brown
Chapter
7

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Causal Analysis
The world around us is a really messy web of
causes and effects. Yet, we seem compelled to
try to understand it.
What causes the moon to orbit the earth, the low
and high tides, the changes of the seasons?
What causes cancer, the degenerative process of
physical aging, schizophrenia?
What causes economic inflation, or the outbreak of
wars?
Answers to questions like these, involve making
causal claims.
A causal claim is an assertion about the
cause of something.
A causal argument justifies, or supports, such a
claim.
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Testing for Causes
John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) devised some
methods for evaluating causal arguments.
‘Mill’s Methods’ are really just common
sense, and they are common in testing
scientific theories.
1. Method of Agreement
If two or more occurrences of some phenomenon
have only one relevant factor in common, that
factor is likely the cause.
The method of agreement involves comparing
situations in which the same kind of event occurs. If
the presence of a certain factor is the only respect in
which the situations are the same (that is, agree), then
this factor may be identified as the cause of the event.
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Imagine three people in your residence all
feel sick one night.
All ate at different restaurants; hung out
with different people; worked out at
different gyms . . .
but all took sips from ONE bottle of
water.
If that water-bottle is the one factor
they all have in common . . .
» then it’s reasonable to
conclude that that water-bottle
was likely the cause of their
illness.
The Form of the Method of Agreement:
If we’re trying to explain effect ‘E’ . . .
Instance 1: Factors a, b, c are followed by E.
Instance 2: Factors a, c, d are followed by E.
Instance 3: Factors a and c are followed by E.
Instance 4: b and c are followed by E.
Therefore, factor c probably causes E.
Only one factor—namely, c—consistently
accompanies the effect E.
Conclusion: c likely causes E.
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find more resources at oneclass.com
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