Choice & Inference readers may well want to check out Alexander Pruss’s thoughts on a recent application (via Michael Tooley) of Carnap’s measure of objective probability to the Problem of Evil here.
I am re-reading the chapters devoted to causal explanation of Woodward’s Making Things Happen: A theory of causal explanation. The book is very interesting and ambitious and probably Woodward is offering there one of the most complete and attractive theories of causal explanation available today. I am sympathetic to some of the main ideas. The purpose of this note is to indicate some potential problems with the general account defended by Woodward.
Some background first. Woodward proposes necessary and sufficient conditions for a generalization to represent a causal or explanatory relationship. The idea is that the generalization should be invariant under some testing interventions on variables occurring in the relationship (page 253). This simple formulation presupposes a lot. For example, it presupposes that the generalization is expressible in a functional form . The technical term “testing intervention” needs to be explained as well. Consider an intervention (meeting the conditions specified by Woodward in chapter 3 of his book) that changes the value of , say , that presently holds to some other value , where is claimed by the generalization to be associated with a value of that is different from the value associated with . So, if abbreviates our generalization we have that is different from and is also different from . Such interventions are called “testing interventions.”
Eventually here, I want to share some thoughts and a question that I have had lately pertaining to de Finetti’s notion of exchangeability. First, however, I want to set the stage for these thoughts by providing some background. If you are already informed on the basic points pertaining to de Finetti’s representation theorem and its epistemological implications, you will probably just want to skip right to the section on “-exchangeability?”.
De Finetti defines exchangeability as follows (p. 123*):
are exchangeable random quantities if they play a symmetrical role in relation to all problems of probability, or, in other words, if the probability that satisfy a given condition is always the same however the distinct indices are chosen.
Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics
Philosophy of Probability III
Graduate Conference 2010
Friday 25th and Saturday 26th June 2010
The Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science announces its Third Graduate Conference in Philosophy of Probability to be held at the London School of Economics.
We are very pleased to have Professor Dorothy Edgington (Birkbeck), Professor Mauricio Suárez (Compultense University) and Dr. Antony Eagle (Oxford) as our keynote speakers.
The conference will commence on Friday 25th June. There will be a conference dinner in the evening. The conference will continue on the Saturday 26th.
The Synthese Conference in 2010 will take place at Columbia University in New York City on April 15-16. The topic of the conference is epistemology and economics. The invited speakers include Alexandru Baltag, Adam Brandenburger, Cristina Biccieri, Christian List and Wlodek Rabinowicz. If you plan to attend the conference, please register (registration is free) by sending an email to
with (1) Name, (2) Affiliation, (3) Country, and (4) write “Registration” in the subject entry of the message. We hope to see you in New York this April!