, Volume 190, Issue 14, pp 2853–2866

Correlations, deviations and expectations: the Extended Principle of the Common Cause


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-012-0089-8

Cite this article as:
Mazzola, C. Synthese (2013) 190: 2853. doi:10.1007/s11229-012-0089-8


The Principle of the Common Cause is usually understood to provide causal explanations for probabilistic correlations obtaining between causally unrelated events. In this study, an extended interpretation of the principle is proposed, according to which common causes should be invoked to explain positive correlations whose values depart from the ones that one would expect to obtain in accordance to her probabilistic expectations. In addition, a probabilistic model for common causes is tailored which satisfies the generalized version of the principle, at the same time including the standard conjunctive-fork model as a special case.


Principle of the Common CauseCorrelationDeviationExpectationExplanation

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia