, Volume 190, Issue 14, pp 2853-2866

First online:

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

  • Claudio MazzolaAffiliated withSchool of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Sydney Email author 

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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 Cause Correlation Deviation Expectation Explanation