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23 marca 2023 roku – Overcoming the plurality of causal pluralisms

23 marca 2023 roku – <span lang='en'>Overcoming the plurality of causal pluralisms</span>

Interdyscyplinarne Centrum Etyki UJ (INCET) zaprasza na kolejne otwarte seminarium badawcze na referat zatytułowany "Overcoming the plurality of causal pluralisms". Spotkanie odbędzie się w czwartek 23 marca o godzinie 17:30 w sali 25 przy ul. Grodzkiej 52 oraz za pośrednictwem platformy MS Teams.


Every monistic account of causality faces some criticism and counterexamples. A solution endorsed by many philosophers is to become pluralist about causality. But causal pluralism comes in different flavors. Traditionally, causal pluralism referred to the view regarding the nature of causality (ontological causal pluralism) that there is more than one type of causal relation in the world. For example, Anscombe (1971) claimed that each causal-family word such as push, lower, butn, has a different meaning. Cartwright (2007) offered an umbrella version of pluralism by arguing that the causal words enrich the meaning of the generic ‘to cause’. Hall (2004) claimed that causation is either difference-making or production (or both) and Skyrms (1984) distinguished among three types of causal relations.

More recently, philosophers of science committed to the view that a few concepts of causality are used to distinguish causal from non-causal relations (conceptual or epistemic causal pluralism, see Froeyman & De Vreese 2008). Pluralism about the concept of cause goes hand in hand with both pluralism and monism about the nature of causation. Its proponents often remain silent regarding the ontology of causation. One example of this position is pragmatic causal pluralism (Vandenbroucke et al. 2016). Godfrey-Smith (2010) argued for using a contextually-appropriate definition of ‘cause’ while Reiss (2009; 2015) justified pluralism about the concept of causality by studying inferential practices in social sciences and medicine. Maziarz (2020) argued for pluralism about the concept of causality on inferential grounds (see also Maziarz and Mroz 2020) and showed that using context-dependent definitions is helpful for economic policy-making. Still, another position is to be pluralist about types of evidence (Russo & Williamson 2007; 2011) and either pluralist (Illari & Russo 2014) or monist (Williamson 2006) about the concept of cause.

In my talk, I discuss the main monistic accounts of causality and the criticism they face. I offer a bird-eye view of the plurality of causal pluralisms and argue that all these accounts fail to delineate the areas of application for each of the partial monistic accounts. To solve this problem, I offer a naturalistic analysis of the nature of causation and provide a new pluralist theory of causation. 


  • Anscombe, G. E. M. (1975). Causality and determinism. In E. Sosa (ed.), Causation and conditionals (pp. 63-81). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Cartwright, N. (2007). Hunting causes and using them: Approaches in philosophy and economics. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Froeyman, A., & De Vreese, L. (2008). Unravelling the Methodology of Causal Pluralism. Philosophica, 81(2008). 
  • Godfrey-Smith, P. (2010). Causal pluralism. In: H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies, (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Causation (pp. 326-337). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Hall, N., (2004). Two concepts of causation In: Causation and Counterfactuals (pp. 225-276). MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 
  • Illari, P., & Russo, F. (2014). Causality: Philosophical theory meets scientific practice. Oxford University Press. 
  • Longworth, F. (2010). Cartwright's causal pluralism: A critique and an alternative. Analysis, 70(2), 310-318. 
  • Maziarz, M. (2020). The philosophy of causality in economics: Causal inferences and policy proposals. Routledge. 
  • Maziarz, M., & Mróz, R. (2020). Response to Henschen: causal pluralism in macroeconomics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 27(2), 164-178. 
  • Reiss, J. (2009). Causation in the social sciences: Evidence, inference, and purpose. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 39(1), 20-40. 
  • Reiss, J. (2015). Causation, evidence, and inference. Routledge.
  • Russo, F., & Williamson, J. (2007). Interpreting causality in the health sciences. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 21(2), 157-170.
  • Russo, F., & Williamson, J. (2011). Epistemic causality and evidence-based medicine. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 33, 563-581. 
  • Skyrms, B. (1984). EPR: Lessons for metaphysics. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 9(1), 245-255. 
  • Vandenbroucke, J. P., Broadbent, A., & Pearce, N. (2016). Causality and causal inference in epidemiology: the need for a pluralistic approach. International Journal of Epidemiology, 45(6), 1776-1786. 
  • Williamson, J. (2006). Causal pluralism versus epistemic causality. Philosophica, 77, 69.