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Luke Fenton-Glynn (UCL): “Probabilistic Actual Causation” (BSPS Lecture)
21 November 2016, 5:15 pm – 6:45 pm
Abstract. Actual (token) causation – the sort of causal relation asserted to hold by claims like the Chicxulub impact caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene exitinction event, Mr. Fairchild’s exposure to asbestos caused him to suffer mesothelioma, and the H7N9 virus outbreak was caused by poultry farmers becoming simultaneously infected by bird and human ‘flu strains – is of significance to scientists, historians, and tort and criminal lawyers. It also plays a role in theories of various philosophically important concepts, such as action, decision, explanation, knowledge, perception, reference, and moral responsibility. Yet there is little consensus on how actual causation is to be understood, particularly where actual causes work only probabilistically. I use probabilistic causal models to cast some light on the nature of probabilistic actual causation.
Luke Fenton-Glynn holds a Lectureship in Philosophy at UCL.