Causality in the Social Sciences: a structural modelling framework
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There is no unified theory of causality in the sciences and in philosophy. In this paper, we focus on a particular framework, called structural causal modelling (SCM), as one possible perspective in quantitative social science research. We explain how this methodology provides a fruitful basis for causal analysis in social research, for hypothesising, modelling, and testing explanatory mechanisms. This framework is not based on a system of equations, but on an analysis of multivariate distributions. In particular, the modelling stage is essentially distribution-free. Adopting an SCM approach means endorsing a particular view on modelling in general (the hypothetico-deductive methodology), and a specific stance on exogeneity (namely as a condition of separability of inference), on the one hand, and in interpreting marginal–conditional decompositions (namely as mechanisms), on the other hand.
KeywordsStructural causal modelling Recursive decomposition Mechanisms Causality - Causal modelling
Comments, in particular by Catherine Gourbin, Renzo Orsi, and Frans Willekens, on former versions of this paper, are gratefully acknowledged.
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