Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 85–107

Correlational Data, Causal Hypotheses, and Validity

Authors

    • Philosophy - SECLUniversity of Kent
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10838-011-9157-x

Cite this article as:
Russo, F. J Gen Philos Sci (2011) 42: 85. doi:10.1007/s10838-011-9157-x

Abstract

A shared problem across the sciences is to make sense of correlational data coming from observations and/or from experiments. Arguably, this means establishing when correlations are causal and when they are not. This is an old problem in philosophy. This paper, narrowing down the scope to quantitative causal analysis in social science, reformulates the problem in terms of the validity of statistical models. Two strategies to make sense of correlational data are presented: first, a ‘structural strategy’, the goal of which is to model and test causal structures that explain correlational data; second, a ‘manipulationist or interventionist strategy’, that hinges upon the notion of invariance under intervention. It is argued that while the former can offer a solution the latter cannot.

Keywords

Causal hypothesesCausal modellingCausationCorrelationManipulationismInterventionMechanismRecursive decompositionStructural modellingValidity

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011