Causation, Evidence and Inference
What do we mean when we claim that something is a cause of something else that smoking causes cancer, that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand caused World War I, that the 8-ball caused the other billiard ball to go into the side pocket? In Causation, Evidence, and Inference (Routledge 2015), Julian Reiss defends an inferentialist account in which causal claims are inferred from evidence for a hypothesis and are the basis of inferences to other consequences. Reiss, who is Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, argues that causal claims depend on contextual factors, such as background knowledge and the purpose for making the claim, and that such claims are pluralistic due to the variety of kinds of evidence from which they can be inferred. Focusing on causal claims in the biomedical and social sciences, he provides a critical overview of prominent theories of causation and evidence, and argues that his view can overcome many of the problems that have been raised for these views.