Variation of information as a measure of one-to-one causal specificity

  • Pierrick BourratEmail author
Original paper in Philosophy of Science


The interventionist account provides us with several notions permitting the qualification of causal relationships. In recent years, there has been a push toward formalizing these notions using information theory. In this paper, I discuss one of them, namely causal specificity. The notion of causal specificity is ambiguous as it can refer to at least two different concepts. After having presented these, I show that current attempts to formalize causal specificity in information theoretic terms have mostly focused on one of these two concepts. I then propose and apply a new information-theoretic measure which captures the other concept.


Causation Interventionist account Causal specificity Information theory 



I am thankful to the Theory and Method in Biosciences group at the University of Sydney, three anonymous reviewers, and the editors who provided useful feedback on previous versions of this manuscript. I am more particularly thankful to Arnaud Pocheville who introduced me to information theory and discussed it at length with me, and Stefan Gawronski who proofread the final manuscript. This research was supported by a Macquarie University Research Fellowship and a Large Grant from the John Templeton Foundation (Grant ID 60811).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Charles Perkins Centre, School of History and Philosophy of ScienceThe University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

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