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Flashcards in Causal reasoning Deck (15)
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events of one type are followed by events of another type
e.g. excessive alcohol intake causes liver damage

causal claim


Mill's 5 methods are

- method agreement
- method of difference
- joint method of agreement and difference
- method of residue
- method of concomitant variation


Method of agreement

look for a common factor present in all the cases in which the effect occurred


Method of difference

look at antecedent circumstances when E occurs, and compare these to antecedent circumstances when E fails for occur (contrasting positive and negative instance that are identical except for one factor)


Joint method of agreement and difference

there is some agreement, but also 1+ case where proposed cause is not present, and where the effect is also not present


Method of residues

If we already know cause, we can subtract that to figure out what causes rest of effect (non-dichotomous, able to quantify)


Method of concomitant variation

if quantitative changes in a phenomenon are associated with quantitative changes in another phenomenon then there is likely a causal connection between them
e.g. the more big bang theory I watch, the more angry I become


4 limitations of Mill's methods

1. Don't say how to determine whether the antecedent circumstances have been properly analysed
- Have to use external knowledge to know what we should be looking for
2. Don't tell us which antecedent circumstances to investigate
3. Can never provide a certain, demonstrative or conclusive proof of a causal claim
- Problem of induction a logical asymmetry, can't get to logical proofs
4. Don't provide a mechanical or automatic way to discover causal connections
E.g. Why do my feet hurt, methods don't tell me what to do


Are Mill's methods a generally acceptable method of inductive reasoning?



Advantages of method of concomitant variation

- can be used when we cannot fully eliminate a factor (when method of difference can't be applied)
- gives more information than just relationship between things e.g. shows how strongly they are related


Disadvantage of method of concomitant variation

Direction of causation might not be clear (what causes what)


Joint method of agreement and difference gives us

Sufficient and necessary conditions


Mill's methods show...

establish evidence of a causal connection


Method of agreement is sufficient/necessary

Sufficient because the common factor is sufficient for the effect to occur, but not known if it is necessary.


Method of difference is sufficient/necessary

Necessary because you're comparing factors so
the factor that is missing when the effect doesn't happen must be the necessary factor