On chance in causal loops
Author: J Berkovitz
Source: Mind, Volume 110, Number 437, 1 January 2001 , pp. 1-23(23)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:A common line of argument for the impossibility of closed causal loops is that they would involve causal paradoxes. The usual reply is that such loops impose heavy consistency constraints on the nature of causal connections in them; constraints that are overlooked by the impossibility arguments. Hugh Mellor has maintained that arguments for the possibility of causal loops also overlook some constraints, which are related to the chances (single-case, objective probabilities) that causes give to their effects. And he argues that a consideration of these constraints demonstrates that causal loops are impossible. I consider Mellor's argument and more generally the nature of chance in causal loops. I argue that Mellor's line of reasoning is unwarranted since it is based on untenable premisses about the relation between chances and long-run frequencies in causal loops. Yet, this line of reasoning may still be of interest to those who maintain that causes determine the chances of their effects; for it raises some unresolved questions about the nature of chance in causal loops.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2001-01-01
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