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180373 VO Causation and the Sciences (2010W)

3.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie


Montag/Monday 8.11. 17 - 19 3B
Dienstag/Tuesday 9.11. 9 - 11 2i
Freitag/Friday 12.11. 9 - 11 3F
Montag/Monday 15.11. 17 - 19 3B
Dienstag/Tuesday 16.11. 9 - 11 2i
Montag/Monday 22.11. 17 - 19 3B
Dienstag/Tuesday 23.11. 9 - 11 2i
Montag/Monday 29.11. 17 - 19 3B
Dienstag/Tuesday 30.11. 9 -11 2i
Montag/Monday 6.12. 17 - 19 3B
Dienstag/Tuesday 7.12. 9 - 11 2i
Freitag/Friday 10.12. 9 - 11 3F


Language: English

Examination dates



Currently no class schedule is known.


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course follows the evolution of philosophical theories of causation in response to scientific developments. We will begin with Hume's sceptical examination of inductive inference, and discuss how this develops into a challenge to make sense of our causal reasoning. We will cover standard philosophical responses to this challenge, including regularity and counterfactual theories of causation. We will look at the place of causation in scientific explanation, which has recently prompted several philosophers to develop "contrastive" theories of causation. We will then consider how some particular sciences think about causation, and see how this has influenced some philosophical theories of causation, such as probabilistic and agency theories. We will look at aspects of physics, genetics, medicine and epidemiology, and identify some of the special problems that these sciences encounter in understanding causation.

Assessment and permitted materials

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Examination topics

Reading list

This reading is optional, but it will greatly assist your understanding, and it will help you to participate in discussions.

Lectures 1 and 2: David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, Sections IV & V.

Lectures 3 and 4: David Lewis (1973), 'Causation', The Journal of Philosophy 70: pp. 556-567. Also in his Philosophical Papers Vol II.

Lectures 5 and 6: Peter Menzies and Huw Price (1993), 'Causation as a Secondary Quality', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44: pp. 187-203.

Lectures 7 and 8: Christopher Hitchcock (1995), 'The Mishap at Reichenbach Falls: Singular vs. General Causation', Philosophical Studies 78: pp. 257-291.

Lectures 9 and 10: Peter Lipton (2004), Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd edition), London: Routledge. Chapter 5: pp. 71-90.

Lectures 11 and 12: Sober, E., 1988. Apportioning Causal Responsibility. The Journal of Philosophy, 85(6): pp. 303-318.

Association in the course directory

BA M 15, § 2.5

Last modified: We 19.08.2020 08:02