Advertisement

Single Case Causes: What Is Evidence and Why

  • Nancy Cartwright
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 379)

Abstract

How do we establish singular causal claims? It seems we do this all the time, from courtrooms to cloud chambers. Nevertheless, there is a strong lobby in the evidence-based medicine and policy movements that argues that we cannot make reliable causal judgments about single cases in these areas. So we cannot tell whether a policy or treatment ‘worked’ for any specific individual. This paper argues the contrary. It provides a catalogue of evidence types that can support singular causal claims, and it develops a theoretical framework that shows that these types are evidence for causation in the single case.

Keywords

Structural Equation Causal Claim INUS Condition Causal Principle Policy Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Alex Marcellesi for research assistance and thank the participants in my winter 2013 graduate seminar on ‘Evidence and Singular Causes’ at UC San Diego as well as an anonymous referee for help with the ideas and details of this paper.

References

  1. Baumgartner, M. (2008). Regularity theories reassessed. Philosophia, 36, 327–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bird, A. (2010). Eliminative abduction: examples from medicine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 41, 345–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cartwright, N. (1989). Nature’s capacities and their measurements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cartwright, N., & Runhardt, R. (2015). Measurement. In N. Cartwright & E. Montuschi (Eds.), New topics in the philosophy of social science. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cartwright, N., et al. (1996). Otto Neurath: philosophy between science and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Glymour, C., et al. (2010). Actual causation: a stone soup essay. Synthese, 175, 169–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hill, B. (1965). The environment and disease: association or causation? Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 58, 295–300.Google Scholar
  8. Hitchcock, C. (2007). Prevention, preemption, and the principle of sufficient reason. Philosophical Review, 116, 495–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mackie, J. L. (1965). Causes and conditions. American Philosophical Quarterly, 2, 245–264.Google Scholar
  10. Maudlin, T. (2002). The metaphysics within physics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Menzies, P. (2012). The causal structure of mechanisms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C, 43(4), 796–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moat, H. S., et al. (2014). Using big data to predict collective behavior in the real world. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, 92–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Paul, L. A., & Hall, N. (2013). Causation: A user’s guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Pearl, J. (2000). Causality: models, reasoning, and inference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California at San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS)Durham UniversityDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations